'Finding Bluefield' Tells a Lesbian Love Story Set Against the Back Drop of the '60s
â€śItâ€™s so hot,â€ť one officer said, â€śI saw a dog chasing a cat, and they were walking.â€ť The waitress went back to adding receipts.
Barbaraâ€™s first bite of pie took her by surprise, baffling her taste buds with a combination of flavors and aromas that she couldnâ€™t identify but wanted to keep experiencing. With pie like this, she decided, she would certainly be passing on the hospital cafeteria as often as possible. She scooped up another forkful of pie and listened to the dropped consonants, the elongated vowels, the unhurried speech that surrounded her. She sipped her coffee and became lost in the soothing symphony of the unfamiliar accent and didnâ€™t notice that someone was talking to her. Slowly, she turned her head toward the voice, still not hearing the words.
â€śI was saying that I made the pie,â€ť a woman repeated. She was holding a plate of fries and gravy. Her brown hair, pulled back and braided, reached most of the way down her back.
â€śThe pie?â€ť Barbara stared into a pair of sea green eyes.
â€śYes. I made it.â€ť The woman sat a few seats from Barbara. Barbara withdrew her gaze and put her coffee down.
â€śDo you know how good this is? Itâ€™s incredible. And the crust. Itâ€™s perfect.â€ť
â€śThanks.â€ť The woman shook a cigarette from its pack and slipped it between her lips. She offered one to Barbara who declined. She reached into her jeans for matches. â€śSo whereâ€™re you from?â€ť She struck a match and touched its flame to the cigarette.
Barbara turned away and lifted her cup. That didnâ€™t take long, she thought as she took a deep breath and inhaled some coffee.
â€śIâ€™m asking because you never had my pie.â€ť When Barbara still didnâ€™t respond, the woman continued. â€śIâ€™m kidding. We get a lot of folks visiting relatives at the hospital, and they come here to get away. And your accent.â€ť The woman slid her plate along the counter and took the stool next to Barbara. â€śI canâ€™t place it.â€ť She rested her cigarette in the ashtray and extended her hand toward Barbara. â€śNicky Stewart.â€ť
â€śOhio.â€ť Barbara shook Nickyâ€™s hand.
â€śSo, Ohio, what brings you to the Bluefield Diner?â€ť Nicky said.â€¨â€śThe pie.â€ťâ€¨â€śI get that a lot.â€ťâ€¨Barbara removed her hand from Nickyâ€™s grip. â€śI came here to get away too. I
work at Bluefield Hospital.â€ť This conversation was already more extensive than anything Barbara had in mind when she decided to venture out of the hospital. After two weeks of cafeteria food, she was simply looking for a change of scenery. What she found was the best pie of her life, but now she began contemplating two years of pie-less hospital cafeteria meals.
â€śReally? You moved here from Ohio to work at the hospital?â€ť â€śManhattan. The accent is Ohio.â€ťâ€¨â€śMust be a good job.â€ť
â€śYes.â€ť Barbara was thinking that this would be a good time to leave. She could do that. She could simply say that she had to get back to work and just stand up and leave and never come back. But those green eyes were fixed on her, and her legs stayed put. Those green eyes made her say, â€śIâ€™m doing my residency.â€ť
â€śMedical residency?â€ť â€śYes.â€ťâ€¨â€śNo kidding?â€ťâ€¨â€śNo.â€ť
Nicky stood and slipped behind the counter. â€śA woman doctor. Thatâ€™s great.â€ť She topped off both her and Barbaraâ€™s coffee. â€śIs it unusual? I mean, it is around here, but is it unusual other places?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s not uncommon.â€ťâ€¨â€śGood for you,â€ť Nicky said, nodding her head. â€śI would go to a woman doctor.â€ť â€śThatâ€™s good to know.â€ť This is not going to go well, Barbara thought.â€¨â€śYour husband get a job here too?â€ťâ€¨And there it was. Barbara took a sip of coffee. â€śThereâ€™s no husband.â€ťâ€¨â€śReally?â€ť Nicky returned to her plate of fries, sitting back down next to Barbara.
â€śHow do you like Bluefield so far?â€ťâ€¨â€śIf by Bluefield you mean the airport and the hospital and now this diner, then itâ€™s
fine.â€ťâ€¨â€śItâ€™s a lot nicer than fine. You need to see more, Dr. Ohio Manhattan.â€ť â€śBarbara.â€ťâ€¨â€śWell, Dr. Barbara, you must see more.â€ť Nicky stuffed her hands in her jeans. â€śI can show you. I know everything there is to know about Bluefield, and the rest I just make up.â€ť
â€śThanks. But I donâ€™t have much free time. Maybe when Iâ€™ve settled in.â€ť Her head swirled with confusion. Did Nicky know what she was doing or was this simply that mythical Southern hospitality? What they were doing might make sense in New York, but she was in Virginia, for Godâ€™s sake. Barbara stood. It was past time to leave. She reached in her pocket for some money.
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