Dave’s Diner (full version)

Dave’s Diner

Dave’s Diner, is a shabby place just on the outskirts of Brock Valley. It sits directly behind an old Sunoco gas station. Sometimes the lights from the gas station illuminate and reflect themselves off the rusty windows of the old diner. 

Dave’s gets many customers, a lot of regulars, and some just passing through town looking for a quick bite. Regulars are aware of the highly regarded Sargino family that has been passing this diner down through generations. The generational hand-off got rocky when it came to the current owner, Dave. His father Jeffery fled the town after Dave’s senior year of high school. Nothing to be heard of him since. The diner found itself in the hands of the eldest son, Dave Sargino. 

Dave kept the diner the same, with booth seats as red as roses and dirty car parts that litter the walls inside. 

The Sargino boys find this diner as a place of magic: EVERY Sargino man has found their lovely wife through this diner. The stories vary…whether she was stopping for food, or she was working the tables, either way their marriages formed here. The history behind Dave’s continues long before the very first Sargino wedding, as Dave’s Diner was the very first diner to open in the town of Brocks Valley. 


Now, decades later, the diner finds itself empty and abandoned. Dave Sargino has been struggling to keep the place open for the past month, and if he cannot come up with $2,000 by the end of April, the diner must close. Business has never been a problem at Dave’s, as the doors were always open, people flooding in, filling every booth and barstool in sight. These days, however, Dave picks up extra shifts at his construction site job just to keep the lights on. The place, once crowding like a rock concert consistently, now stands with dimmed lights and dusty booth seats. 


The leaves shook from the trees and the wind whistled in the distance, as Jeffery Sargino walked up to the old diner. He remembered this place; he met Maria there. Jeffery had worked at the front cash register when Maria waltzed in with her friends. It had to be about 1965, the diner was all the rage, and it was a crowded Friday night. Many teens filled the room, but he stared in a trance at her. The way Maria smiled and batted her eyelashes while she laughed at jokes her friends made, everything about her was perfect to Jeffery. Much simpler times back then, but when Jeffery skipped town weeks ago, time soon came to a halt. Maria died while he was gone…and nothing was the same. 

Jeffery climbed the steps and placed his withered hands on the handle of the silver metal door as he prodded it open. He was greeted as he stepped inside and hurried to the farthest booth in the corner. He saw the dust caked onto the table and the dirt that lined the floors; this was nothing like before. 

Jeffery reminded himself he was not here to judge this diner but to talk to his son, Dave. Jeffery left Dave once he graduated high school. Jeffery dealt with a lot while Dave grew up but never wanted to leave the boy too soon. Yes, it was wrong, but Jeffery knew he could not be the father Dave needed.

Jeffery waited with his legs crossed over one another, his brown loafers poking out of the khaki pants he wore. He glanced at the gold watch on his wrist. Just as he looked up, he saw Dave, his little boy all grown up. Jeffery wanted to run and embrace his son, but what Jeffery did not realize was Dave had no clue who he was.


Dave, with a slumped shoulder, dragged himself to the far corner of the diner to serve this unrecognizable man. As he grew closer, Dave realized the gold pin this old man wore: a football pinned into the right side of his striped shirt pocket. If nothing about Jeffery looked familiar, the pin sure did. Dave halted dead in his tracks, it was as if he had seen a ghost.

 “Dad?” he questioned aloud. 

Jeffery’s head shot up, he smiled, a genuine smile for the first time in years, “Yes, Davey it’s me, how are you buddy?”

Jeffery expected Dave to take him back with open arms, he took care of him. Dave could not believe the nerve of his old man! He waltzed into this diner, sat down in a booth, and used that nickname, what gave him the right? 

“You shouldn’t be here, dad!” Dave warned, as he inched closer to the frail old man that sat in this cold, leather seat. 

Jeffery stumbled over his words, there were no right things to say other than his mother had died, and he had to be the one to deliver the news.

“H-how about you?  Take a seat with me, Davey.” Jeffery pleaded; he needed his son to listen to him, even if Dave hated his guts.

Dave grew angrier by the second, he did not need this right now. The diner will be closed permanently this Saturday and he could not get the money. Dave needed a break not a chit-chat with his deadbeat father.

“No, I don’t think I will, Jeffery.” Dave’s words felt like a slap straight to the face, that is the least Jeffery deserved. Dave wanted to scream and tell him everything he had done wrong, but there was little time in the world. 

Jeffery shifted uncomfortably in his seat, he uncrossed his legs and placed his hands gently on the table, “It’s your mother, kid, she’s-”

Dave sprung up at the sound of his mother, “She’s what?” He finally sat across from Jeffery, with his head hung low.

“Well, she won’t be coming home Dave.” As soon as the words left his mouth, Jeffery wished they were not true, like this was some sick joke he had to play on Dave.


“What do you mean, she’s not coming home Dad?” Dave was too old and too tired to play these games with his father and just wanted him to spit it out already so he could get back to work. Jeffery feared for how Dave would react, he would not take it well. Dave was a loose cannon; he could erupt at any moment with seething rage, and this might just push him into an explosion.


“She’s dead Dave, she’s gone.” Jeffery shuddered as he said it, it was like he sealed the deal. He never accepted that Maria was gone, but now that the words came out of his mouth it was final. She would never be back, she sat in a casket six feet under, nothing to be seen of her.

The Sargino boys sat quietly for a while, nothing to be heard between them except the sound of cars outside, barreling down the street.


“When did you find out?” Dave questioned  his old man  sitting across from him.Jeffery hesitated for a moment, should he tell the truth or lie like he had done so many times before to his son.

Jeffery made a choice, the right choice in his eyes, “Last month”, Jeffery sat tight lipped awaiting Dave’s response.

Dave had a right to be mad, Jeffery spent all this time lying. It was time to grow up and step in to be the father Dave needed and lying would just prove he was not ready to be that man.

“Was there a funeral?” Dave could not be angry at Jeffery; he saw the hurt in his eyes and felt like he was looking at his own reflection. 


Every inch of their faces covered in grief and stress, the wrinkles that hung from their eyes and mouths, they were spitting images of each other.

“No, that’s not what Maria would’ve wanted,” Jeffery paused, “All those people seeing her like that, she was sick Dave, real fragile and sickly-looking.” 

“Thank you.” Dave hesitated while he said those words, but his father deserved to hear them.

“It’s the least I could’ve done for her, Bud, just one last thing to try and make things right, I really did love her, and you.” Jeffery explained to Dave.


He was hoping to get his point across that he would always love Dave even if his previous actions didn’t show it.

Dave wasn’t angry or sad, he felt at peace, like these were the words he always needed to hear from his father, it felt like weight was lifted off his shoulders.


Dave stood up and grabbed the little notebook and a pen from the front of his apron, “Well, what can I get started for you, Dad?”

As the sun began to fade slowly into the night sky, Dave and Jeffery sat at that rose red booth, laughing, and talking.

It was like no time had passed at all, as if Jeffrey never left and Maria never died. All the worries Dave had begun to drift away like the wind that whistled outside.

Jenna Holton is an 11th grade student-athlete at Franklin Towne Charter High School. She enjoys playing field hockey and lacrosse, which she has been competing in for three years, winning spring athlete of the year for lacrosse. Jenna lives with her parents, older brother, and her two dogs in Philadelphia, PA. She is in her school’s mentor program that allows upperclassmen to help new freshmen ease their way into a high school experience. She likes to read and watch movies, as well as write.