Short Fiction - Crime
by R.J. Mangahas
Jake turned up his collar as the red orbs of the bus's tail lights faded into the rainy night. Slinging his duffel over his shoulder, he entered the diner with the burned out 'n' in the neon sign. Inside a big bear of a man, probably a trucker, sat at the counter. A waitress was bringing a check to a couple sitting in one of the booths.
Jake set down his bag and sat at the counter. The big man at the other end gave him a polite nod. Jake returned it, flipped over the coffee cup in front of him and picked up a menu.
After a stop at the register, the waitress, whose tag read 'Sheri', came over to Jake, a pot of coffee in each hand.
"Fill ya up there?"
"Sure," Jake said.
"High test or decaf?"
"Something nasty out there, huh?" Sheri said as she poured the coffee.
"The weather. Pretty nasty."
"Sure is." It had been awhile since Jake had seen weather, or anything for that matter, from the outside world.
"Did you want something to eat? We have a great smoke house burger on special."
Jake eyed the menu. "I think I'll just have some scrambled eggs, ham and wheat toast."
"Sure thing." Sheri wrote down the order and passed through a small window to a short order cook. On her way back she picked up a plate heaped with eggs and sausages and another with a short stack and brought it over to the trucker at the other end of the counter.
Jake figured that she'd be the easiest so he'd save her for last. He wasn't too sure about the short order cook. The trucker would present a problem.
" 'Scuse me."
Jake looked over and saw that the trucker was talking to him.
"Think you can pass me that syrup next to you?"
"Sure," Jake said, sliding it down the counter.
Jake nodded at the big man and gave him another quick glance. The trucker was a big guy, but one well placed strike would---
"There you go," Sheri said, putting Jake's food down. "Can I get you anything else?"
While Sheri refilled the trucker's coffee, Jake took one more side glance at the trucker.
"How was everything?" Sheri asked when Jake finished.
"It was great thanks."
"Would you like to try some of our blueberry pie?"
Sheri opened a glass case that was sitting on the counter and sliced a piece for Jake. "You want some more coffee?"
Sheri refilled Jake's cup then went off to collect the money from the now empty-booth and the trucker who had just left.
Jake took a couple of bites then stared off into the rainy night.
"The pie okay?" Sheri asked.
"It's fine," Jake said. "Just thinking about stuff."
Sheri smiled. "I know how that can be."
"Is there a place I can freshen up a little?"
"Sure," Sheri said. "There's a bathroom down that hallway, past the kitchen on the left."
Jake finished his pie and went down the hallway.
Jake dried his hands and looked into the mirror, trying to find some resolve. Pulling a razor from his coat, he ran his finger along the edge. Still sharp. On his way back, Jake stopped at the kitchen where Sheri and the short order cook were talking.
After he was done, Jake went back out front, opened the glass case on the counter and helped himself to another slice of blueberry pie.
R.J. Mangahas is currently a walking cliche: He works in a bookstore while working on his novel. He also has had one play produced and lives somewhere in New England.