Breakfast aromas wafted throughout the small diner, accompanied by the sizzling of food and bustling noises of the cooks, waitresses, and patrons. It was almost noon, the sun already rising high into the sky, beating down its hot, heavy rays. He wasn't very accustomed to the heat, but he was thankful that it was a dry one, unlike in the Upper Midwest. The mugginess that was present there during the spring and summer months, drenching and weighing you down, got old fast. At least his clothes weren't sticking to him, even if the temperatures reached higher levels for longer. As long as there were establishments with running AC, like the diner, that he could keep ducking into, he'd be fine.
He paid little attention to the people coming in and out, instead focusing on the food that had just been delivered to the booth. Across from him sat a slender woman, curls of red cascading down her pasty, freckled shoulders. She didn't seem to care if strands of hair dangled close to her food as she hunched over inhaling it.
"Could you pass the salt, Dyanne?"
Dyanne looked up from her plate with a perplexed expression, cheeks full of food she continued to chew while asking, "What do you mean 'pass the salt'?"
Her large emerald, doe-like eyes and tiny nose buffered against his disgust of people who chewed with their mouths open. "I mean, could you please pass the salt."
"I don't give a shit about politeness. Reach out your arm and get it your damn self."
"You know I could make you..."
"Are you threatening me?"
"Just stating a fact. Besides, you do it better than I can."
With a huff, Dyanne flicked out her hand, the salt shaker sliding across the table to him. She avoided his triumphant grin.
The two of them ate in silence until Dyanne finished her meal. It was apparent she wasn't going to let him finish his in peace. "So are we going to talk about what's going on?"
"In regards to?" he asked, knowing full well her reference.
"To what the fuck is going on." He also knew that Dyanne was already exasperated with his antics. "Everything is going to hell. Mass murders, terrorist attacks. Rumors of secret government experimentation. Potential super soldier projects. You name it. Cities across the US... No, the world..." She took a deep breath before continuing. "Cities reporting the sightings of others. Being reported in this city."
"It sounds like a clusterfuck that we shouldn't get involved with."
"Shouldn't get involved with? I concur! But then why the hell are we here? Let's just keep on passing through, like we always do. Leave it all behind."
He shrugged. "I'm curious. Thought we might take a quick look around."
His partner was dumbstruck. Her bright green eyes searching his, attempting to figure out if he was being serious or not. "You're curious? That's your excuse? That's why we're here, in the middle of the shitstorm?" Dyanne threw her hands up in defeat. "You're curiosity is going to get us killed." She shoved his half-eaten plate of food to the side of the table next to hers and leaned in over the table, her voice becoming a whisper. "How long, Jack? How long do you think it will be before these "Specials" are everywhere? If what some claim is true, they are already springing up everywhere and fucking shit up. And how long before a civil war breaks out or the government decides to hunt them down with little care about who gets caught in the crossfire?"
Jack agreed it was a legitimate concern and he didn't have any soothing words of wisdom to calm her, not that anything would anyways.
"Are you going to need a takeout box?" Their waitress, an older woman dressed in jeans and a white, stain-splattered shirt, was standing at the end of the table, a finger pointing to his leftover food.
"You know what, Doris? I think I'm good, thank you," Jack answered. "I believe my lovely wife, Dyanne, will be picking up the tab."
"Bullshit, Jack." The comment caused Doris to pause in the search for their bill in her apron's pouch.
"Jack and Dyanne? Like the..."
"Yes, like the song." Dyanne's tone was laced with irritation, but the waitress didn't seem to notice, taking pride in her astuteness.
He also ignored his wife. "It never gets old." He turned and smiled at Doris, who had resumed digging for their check. "You know, I thought I recall you saying this was on the house?" She paused again and gave him a skeptical glace. "Something about it being our first visit?"
"I don't remember saying that..."
"You don't?" Jack raised a questioning brow. Locking eyes with her. "Nothing about our first visit being free?"
"I..." Doris was lost in thought, rummaging through her memories of their previous conversation. Her face brightened as though a light bulb had just turned on in her mind. "You're right, we do sometimes offer that special. I'm sorry, I must have forgotten. Been working long hours lately, a lot on my mind."
Jack shuffled out of the booth. "No worries, I completely understand. A lot going on in the world today." Dyanne followed suit.
"There sure is. Thank you for stopping in." Doris offered them both a wide smile and wave. "Don't be strangers!"
He heard the waitress's farewells being interrupted by another group of people who were in the booth next to theirs asking about the same special being applied to their meal. Unfortunately, when confronted about it, she apologized, claiming to have no idea what special they were referring to.
Jack smiled to himself as his partner lead the way to the front of the diner. Another couple had just finished paying and were heading towards the exit. One of the men, attempting to be chivalrous, reached to open the door when it suddenly threw itself open, causing him to stumble forward.
Without slowing her stride, Dyanne walked past them and offered, "Must be the wind."
Jack shook his head, apologizing to the couple as he followed his wife out into the hot, but breezeless, afternoon air.
Thanks for reading! What did you think about the piece? Any constructive criticism is welcomed!