Full Medical (Chapter 7, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 7

Cindy's Old Towne Family Restaurant was a refurbished church. Cindy, now white-haired and portly, was only five when her grandfather purchased it many years ago. The archdiocese shut it down and used its sale to help pay for the lawsuits it had lost in the pedophilia scandals at the turn of the century. In that way the Church of St. Francis became very much a secular institution, though the secular Cindy was influenced by her St. Francis as if she were a modern St. Anthony, tending to her flock with the good humor and good counsel characteristic of the best of priests. What her food lacked in flavor and presentation was compensated by her walk-throughs where she talked to the regulars and welcomed the newcomers, although over the years there were more of the former and fewer of the latter as the demographics of Lexington Park waxed and waned, but mostly waned.

Lots of hanging drapes and old quilts on the walls deadened the sound of the dining customers, their chatter and laughter muted to a contented murmur punctuated by the soft percussion of clanging pots and pans. The little naves where the saints used to be made nice private dining spots. The altar where the priest used to say mass, calling for the Lord's light to shine down upon his charges, had become a performance stage, although it was usually dark. On some Friday or Saturday nights there would be a volunteer that would strum a guitar and sing a few songs on that stage, especially if Cindy prodded the amateur crooner with a few beers from the well-stocked bar at the front of the church where they used to keep the proceeds from the collection. These weekend events were random but enjoyable ones that made the white noise hum of the local dining crowd increase in intensity, the noise often interrupted with hoorahs or cat calls, depending on the skill of the entertainer. In addition, on Thursdays there was always karaoke, except on Thanksgiving, of course, when Cindy's was host to the many people around - widows, widowers, and other lonely people - Cindy's friends who didn't have a family holiday dinner to go to. Occasionally the restaurant would even be hired out for a wedding - not a church wedding, of course -- yet it made it very convenient to have the wedding and the reception in the same place.

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