Slow night at the diner this Monday night. So John Wilson, the middle-aged, wiry fellow who handles the counter, is taking care of a few chores. He's atop the back counter, straddling an espresso machine and soft-drink dispenser, vigorously wiping the expansive wall mirror. He's using coffee filters to swab, pages from the Sun-Sentinel to dry. He hops down, takes an order for a bowl of homemade chili, and hustles away to another task. "You folks don't look like smokers," jokes a nearby waiter to four elderly men and women who've plunked down in the heart of the smoking section. They remain, and the two women soon light up. The chili arrives. It's thick. So viscous, in fact, it heaps. Slightly sweet in the first spoonful. A mounting spicy heat builds with each new bite. The beef is finely ground, the red beans firm and flavorful. "More iced tea?" Wilson asks. Indecision. "Hey, as long as you're not driving..." he says as he whisks the glass away for a refill.
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