The Royal Donut had been a neighborhood destination for decades. The smell of freshly slathered ring donuts hit you as you turned the block. The atmosphere was charged by the childhood memories the smell created. You could almost watch new customers be struck by, and then get lost in, the wave of nostalgia. Oscar was behind the counter, a muscular tattoed man in his mid-thirties.
Locals remembered him starting there as a bright eyed teenager. He had run around the place like a whirling dervish refilling coffees, learning to casually, but purposefully, up sell a prepackaged dozen donut holes.
When his father died suddenly the previous spring, it was assumed the business would disappear. Surely, we thought, such a prime location would become another trendy Euro cafe with designer lattes and overpriced store-bought coffee cake. Oscar simply showed up behind the counter a week or so later, as if he had always been there.
I wondered if Oscar had returned out of a sense of duty. Off in some other life, only to be called up to take over the Royal. I imagined him giving notice at his job, and with solid conviction, returning to the shop on Main Street.
The torch passed, the old ladies would gossip over how long Oscar would remain single. Kids would wink and charm their way to a kid-sized bagel. He was very sure to use all of his father’s old-fashioned terms and phrases.
“Krullers are fresh; maple bars are fine too.”
“How about a bag of donut holes with that?”