He opened the door to the diner and stepped inside. The door slammed shut behind him. It always did that. It was probably the reason why the pane of glass had a jagged crack running from top to bottom. The crack had been there for as long as he could remember. It was a comfortable reminder of why he came here: no one cared here.
He sat in the same place he always sat: a booth in the back near the bathroom. Dorothy, the only waitress this hole-in-the-wall had to offer, acknowledged him with a grunt and asked if he wanted anything.
“Just a cup of coffee and some pancakes, please.” She oinked with indifference and waddled to the kitchen to put in the order. He watched her pour coffee that ...view middle of the document...
The food was always cold. He no longer wondered if it was just his luck, or if the service was really that terrible. Regardless of the cause, the result was the same. There were few people in this place, though it was dinner time. Perhaps everyone else knew to stay away. The booth in the back allowed him to take in everything in the diner at once, and see people enter and exit.
Nick the cook sat at the booth opposite the room from him, reading a newspaper and smoking a cigar. Nick wasn't a small man by any means, but he was a piglet to Dorothy's mother sow. The acrid smoke from his cigar said it was a Carajo, a cheap brand. His grizzled face, squinted eyes, and balding head made him look a lot older than he knew him to be. Nick's pale t-shirt and threadbare, faded jeans looked like they were present at the same food explosion Dorothy must have survived, but neither one seemed to notice. People came here to eat cheap food and try to escape their problems, not admire the view. Nick mopped sweat from his brow with his greasy shirt sleeve, and turned the page.
There were two other people in the diner, both customers. He had not seen them before, and he could almost say with certainty that he would not see them in this place again. They were of no consequence.
Most people who came in here for the first time left without coming back. 'It must be the food', he chuckled to himself.
He had been coming to this diner for most of his adult life, though it wasn't for the food or the service. The food was sub-par and the service was worse. There was no one here he knew outside of the diner, and he wasn't greeted as regular when he came. But he always came here when he needed to think.
He looked down at the notes he had scribbled on bits of scrap paper. 'Stanley' was the name written prominently at the top of the largest piece. 'Ferris' adorned another large scrap. Here and there were written dates and times and noteworthy statements, all jumbled seemingly random on the assorted pieces of paper. Seemingly random, but he knew which order they should be in. To everyone else they would just appear to be random scraps of paper; perhaps musings of a budding novelist.
He arranged them in the proper order with precision and timing that only comes from long periods of repetition.
These notes meant nothing to anyone who happened to glance at them, but they served him well. To him they meant-
'9:13 am, at bus stop. Took bus to Gravelly Blvd.
'9:31 am, got off bus at Crossbys. Went inside.
'10:47 am, exited Crossbys with bags of groceries.
'11:13 am, at bus stop, Took bus to Candlewick Apts.
'11:32 am, got off bus, went back to apartment.
He jotted down the first letter of each word for his notes. His memory, honed to excellence, provided the rest. If he were compromised, there would be nothing to incriminate him.
These notes revealed the current daily life of a Stanley Ferris;...