It was the winter of 1948. It had been a year since Allie had broken off her engagement with Lon Hammond. Lon had moved on. He was heartbroken at first, and he could barely function for the first month or so. Eventually, he accepted that Allie had moved on, and so should he. Lon knew love would find him again; he just didn't know when or where or how.
Lon was a smart man. He was wealthy, charming, funny, and not to mention handsome. And boy did he know it. Every one in a while, he got a little cocky, but never too much that it turned people away. Since the breakup, Lon had dated, but it never worked out. So, Lon decided he would wait for a real love, one that would turn his world upside down.
Lon had to go to court this morning. He is a lawyer and a pretty good one at that. He pays attention to detail, so he could always tell when something was wrong or misplaced. That's how he knew something was wrong with Allie right before their wedding.
Lon slips into his brown trousers with matching suspenders, blue dress shirt, and brown dress shoes. He combs his dark hair back and secures his tie before pulling out a cigarette and driving to the courthouse. It was late morning, and people were already out and about in the small town of New Bern, North Carolina. The people were the same as in any small town: gossipy but polite and hospitable.
Lon knew it was going to be a long day when he stepped into the courtroom. It was hot and humid which made Lon think that everyone would overheat before the trial was over. There were a fair amount of people humming about waiting for the trail to start including reporters and friends and family. He could see his client, Mr. Neil Arnett, sitting at the front, waiting for him to arrive. Neil was a tall, thin man whose messy brown hair stuck up in all the wrong places. He had tried to control it with a little bit of hair gel, but Lon could already see it failing. Neil had a large nose that stuck out in the middle of his long face. He was always nervous or unsure of himself, and Lon could see that as he walked up to meet him. He places a hand on Mr. Arnett's shoulder and sits down next to him. "Good morning, Neil."
Mr. Arnett lets out a sigh of relief. "Thank god, you're here. I thought I was going to have to do this trial myself."
Lon chuckles at the thought of Mr. Arnett taking on the role of being his own lawyer. "I haven't let you down yet, have I?"
"Yet." Mr. Arnett and Lon share a playful laugh before the judge walks in and begins the first day of the trial.
Mr. Arnett was suing the lumber yard for not selling their lumber at the advertised price. The defendant has no reasonable defense, so Lon knew he had this one in the bag. Some of his trials were easily won, but others weren't so lucky. Lon never liked to lose; he was always competitive with other lawyers.
As the day drew to a close, the judge called the trial and said that it would resume precisely at ten o'clock the next morning. Lon packed up his suitcase, said goodbye to Mr. Arnett and his family, and walked out into the cool evening. The sun was setting, but the town was still up and about. He didn't feel like going home. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like he wasn't ready to go home yet. Feeling exhausted after the long day, Lon decided to drive up to the local bar a few blocks away and grab a drink.
When he stepped into the small bar, he instantly felt comfortable. The lights weren't too bright, the place wasn't too small, and the jukebox playing the blues wasn't too loud. There was a long bar across one wall and tables filling up the rest of the space. He walked up to the bar, sat on the stool, and ordered a drink. There were about ten people in the bar: a group of men who were obviously drunk seated at one table, a group of a few college students seated at another, and a woman seated all alone at the other end of the bar.
He couldn't keep himself from glancing over at the woman every once in a while. She had long black hair that brushed against her shoulders and fair skin that glowed in the dim lights. She was hanging her head and occasionally sipping on her drink; Lon guessed it was because she had a long day. She was tapping her foot along to the music. Lon, feeling gentleman-like, couldn't leave this poor woman alone. With one large swig, he finished his drink and walked over to her. He sits on the stool next to her, and she looks up at him. "Hello," he says with a smile.
"Hi," she says, looking exhausted and uninterested.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
She lifts up her drink. "Already got one, but thanks for the offer." There was a few seconds of silence before she took the conversation. "Bennie. Bennie Cleaver."
Lon smiled. "Lon Hammond. It's nice to meet you, Bennie."
"Likewise. Is there any special reason you came over here?"
"I couldn't stand to see a pretty lady like you sitting all alone. I just had to fix it." She laughed, flattered but skeptic, and took another sip of her drink.
"So, what do you do, Lon?"
"I'm a lawyer." Lon decided that he would be staying for a while, so he ordered another drink. "What about you? What do you do?"
"I'm a nurse down at the local hospital." She looked like she wanted to say more, but didn't know what else to say.
"What do you do there?"
"You know … nurse stuff. What do you do at your job?"
"Oh, you know … lawyer stuff." They share a laugh. Lon liked her; she was fun.
They continue talking and joking, growing more comfortable to each other. Glancing up at the clock, Bennie noticed that it was almost ten o'clock. "It's getting a bit late," she says, sounding a bit disappointed. "I should be going." She stands from her stool. "It was nice talking to you, Lon."
"It was nice talking to you, too. Would you like me to take you home?" He asks as he walks outside with her.
"No, thank you. I prefer to walk. See you around?" She sounded hopeful. She wanted to see him again.
"Most definitely." She turns around and walks down the sidewalk, away from Lon. As Lon stepped into his car, he figured he wasn't tipsy yet and could still drive the short way to his home. He couldn't keep his mind off of Bennie. He felt an immediate connection. He had only ever felt this way before about one other person. Allie.