Tales from the Midnight Hour Diner
Pancakes and a Stranger
By the time my plate of pancakes arrives the majority of the guilt I was feeling subsided, I still had a niggling feeling that this would result in a fight or worse.
She would forgive me, eventually.
But the warm smell of maple and butter was exactly what I needed for the shame to wash away.
“Refill sweetie?” My waitress asks holding a coffee, I must look frightful with a mouthful of pancakes and being day four without sufficient sleep.
I saw myself in a reflection off of the diner window, I look like I’m dying but it’s purely from lack of sleep. As I was driving to the diner I felt my eyes grow heavier than ever before, in fact it was the only reason that I decided to stop.
I’d feel so much worse if I died.
Then she’d never forgive me.
I signal with my fork for the waitress to top up my coffee, black, no sugar.
Perfect from the moment it is poured.
Shamefully scoffing my face with pancakes, even ordering extra bacon which will remain my little secret.
Honestly what human being, what supposed family man goes out for pancakes and bacon at 02:48 in the morning.
I feel like I am about to get caught at any point, feeling surrounded in crumbs.
Doesn’t stop me from polishing off all four pancakes and the side of bacon.
I’m about to signal the waitress, for refill and for the bill.
The diner wasn’t uninviting but it seemed that at this early hour the residents of the establishment are not people you’d want at your Sunday church brunch.
The waitress is attending to a group of hospital workers but registers that she’s seen me with a dry smile that comes around the 5th hour of a shift.
I’m about to finish off my cup of coffee when I’m joined by a stranger.
He sits down with a confidence that is instantly intimidating. I move my wallet and keys close to me as the man leans in close to me.
He smells of strong booze and lighter fluid.
However that is only part of his problem, he also appears to be covered in blood and looks as though he has a bullet wound in his shoulder.
I stay quiet.
“Well isn’t this swell, you sitting here eating pancakes like the fat fuck you are. Me with a bullet in my shoulder.” He says in an all American accent.
“I haven’t eaten today,” I say trying to justify my behaviour to this stranger. He flips my empty plate high into the air and doesn’t even move when it shatters on the floor next to us.
“Don’t give me that shit,”
He puts a gun on the table and I feel a huge knot form in my stomach.
“I promise I’ll not do it again,” I shout my hands up in the air. “I never thought this is what would happen!”
“What did you expect was going to happen?” The man says pulling back the hammer on the revolver.
“I thought I’d have to sleep on the sofa for a couple of days, not this.” I say unapologetically sobbing for my life.
“Afraid it’s past that time. You know why I’m here don’t you, so why did you turn up?”
I’m lost, I knew things weren’t great but I hadn’t thought they were this bad.
“I just needed to get out of the house away from my wife and the baby, just for an hour,” I say confessing to my crime.
I feel like I’ve let down my wife, but I never thought she’d stoop to having me killed.
“Come again?” He says confused.
We both look at each, waiting for the penny to drop.
“You’re Jerry Grimsend?” the man asks.
I shake my head and push my wallet over to him to check.
“Hang on,” he says keeping the gun loosely on me but checking his phone.
A braver man would snatch the gun from him and shoot him dead, as is the law of this land but I’m not that kind of person.
Not on March 21st or ever.
“God damn it he said PM, Jesus I’m such a moron.” He says putting the gun back into his jacket.
I am still frozen.
“I’m sorry man, stay safe.” He says bolting out the door.
I drop my head to my hands and begin crying.
“Here’s your bill sweetie, and a tip for a tip that’s why people get take out.” My waitress says topping off my coffee and leaving me the bill.
I shakily grab my wallet and leave a twenty dollar bill.
“You said that last time,”
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