“How are the eggs?”
“Perfect. Tell…” What was the cook’s name again? He struggled for just a second to remember. “…Frank that he’s gotten them down.”
The waitress smiled faintly. What was her name? Shelly? Sally? Every night for a week he’d been coming here, and he still struggled to remember their names. “Do you need salt? Or pepper?”
He shook his head. “No. I brought my own seasoning.” As she walked away, he pulled a small vial from his pocket and lightly sprinkled a powder over the eggs.
The ringing of a bell signaled the door opening and the arrival of another person to the diner. He turned on the stool to look behind him.
The newcomer was a young man, unshaven. He wore a ball cap and a dark brown coat that was drenched from the evening’s rain. When he waved the man over to join him at the counter, his nervousness was obvious. Dark eyes twitched back and forth as he weighed accepting the invitation. His hand clutched tightly at something inside his coat pocket.
But ultimately he slowly shuffled his way over. “Do I know you?”
“Sit.” He gestured at the stool next to him.
Hesitation gave way to nervous resignation, and he sat.
He slid his plate in front of the newcomer. “You have to try the eggs.”
The man eyed the eggs, skepticism mixing with puzzlement. “Are these…”
“Over easy. Yes.”
After a single bite, he began eating in earnest. “I haven’t had eggs like this since…”
“Your mother. I know. Eat. Don’t talk. Took me a week to get Frank to cook them just right. They always came out over-medium, the yolks just a little too hard. But he finally got it.”
Eating eagerly, the newcomer obviously agreed. “Excellent.” His anxiety seemed to have subsided.
He patted him on the back as he stood up. “I’m glad you enjoyed them. I wanted to be sure you got them one more time.”
The puzzlement returned to the newcomer’s eyes for a moment before he let out a violent cough.
The man pulled a bill from his wallet. Shari. That was her name. “For your trouble, Shari. Tell Frank, 10 seconds. No more. Remember. And… ah… call the police. I believe they will be interested in your latest customer.” The newcomer continued to cough, flecks of red covering the plate in front of him.
Shari had rushed over to help him. That’s when she saw the gun fall from his pocket. She turned to ask the man for help, but the bell had rung and he was gone.