Just a short story I have been working on. Might expand it to a larger piece and might leave it the way it is. Suggestions appreciated.
Jacob sat in the corner booth of Jimmy’s Diner. He loved coming here this time of night because the place was empty and the service was so bad that he didn’t have to worry about being bothered. All that he could hear was the buzz of the neon lights, the hum of the fans over the griddle in the kitchen, and the smack smack smacking of Peggy, the waitress’s, gum.
Tonight was the third night in a row he hadn’t slept. It was the third night in a row he had spent sitting in a booth drinking coffee. The coffee was terrible but it was of the leaded variety and that’s what mattered. The Pancakes were good. It’s hard to screw up pancakes.
Peggy stopped smacking her gum and put down her crossword puzzle. She liked to do the crossword puzzles from the day before so that she could cheat and look at the answers in today’s paper if she ever got stuck. She got stuck a lot. She wiggled herself over to Jacob’s table, her bleach blond perm bobbing up and down like a buoy on a sea of white trash.
“You ready to order honey?” She asked.
Jacob looked at her and cocked his head to the side, not quite comprehending what she was saying. All he could think was that this woman must have spent hours getting that hair just right for the graveyard shift at Jimmy’s Diner where he was to be her only customer. She had made herself look like a strung-out clown just for him.
“You look very nice tonight, Peggy.” He lied, and she leaned in close, smiling like a five year olds carving of a rotten pumpkin.
“Why Jacob, I’m old enough to be your momma and here you are flirtin’ with me… Oh my, what would they say?” Her words wafted towards him on a magic carpet of cigarette smoke and sour milk and for a moment he thought he would be sick.
Jacob looked around the empty restaurant and fought the urge to get up without saying a word and walk out the door. But he knew that he couldn’t. He knew that as long as the sun was down he was safer “flirting” with Peggy than going into the darkness.
“ How you been sleepin’?” She asked as she refilled his coffee.
“Pancakes.” He said, realizing just now why she was still hovering around his table.
“Pancakes.” She replied and bobbled back into the kitchen.
Jacob poured sugar into his coffee. He used his butter knife to stir. He tasted it, added more sugar, stirred again and then leaned back in the booth and shut his eyes. When he opened them, he was surprised to see that someone had come into the restaurant and was sitting in the booth right in front of him. His Pancakes were cold.
From the way the man was dressed, Jacob guessed that he couldn’t be more than 24 or 25. He wore a black hoodie sweatshirt and a black baseball cap with no emblem. The bill of the cap cast a shadow on the man’s face in such a way that Jacob couldn’t quite see if his eyes were open or closed. The man’s complexion was a dark olive, although it was obvious that he was European decent, and he had a subtle smirk to his lips that suggested he knew something that no one else could.
Jacob looked at the clock. It was nearly 5 AM. The day would be coming soon and he would be able to go back to his shitty apartment, but now that the stranger sat across from him, he feared he would never see another sunrise.
“Busy night, Eh?” Jacob said, trying to break the tension, but the man sat unresponsive.
Jacob poked at his cold pancakes with his fork and even though he looked bored and tired, his heart felt as if it would explode. He imagined the look of sheer horror that would creep across Peggy’s face when she returned to find him dead, face down in the syrup. He looked at the Formica table and frantically searched his mind for a way out.
“You want me to heat those up?” Peggy asked. And just like that, she was standing next to his table. He quickly scanned the room, searching for the man in the black hat, but he was nowhere.
“Did he leave?” Jacob asked.
“Did who leave?” She replied.
“The man that was sitting at that booth.”
“Just me and you tonight sweetheart. Just the way I like it.”
This time Jacob was sick. He got up from the table and ran to the bathroom suppressing the bile rising up in the back of his throat. He flung the door open and stopped in his tracks. The room before him was pitch black. He remembered from previous visits to Jimmy’s Diner that there was a big sign on the wall that read, “TURN OFF LIGHT WHEN NOT IN USE”. He always left it on.
He reached inside and fumbled desperately for the light switch, panic filling his very being, and then something from the other side grabbed a hold of his arm. He knew this was the end. For the briefest of moments he thought about screaming for help, but as he was pulled inside, his mind followed into nothingness.
You need to be logged in to comment