Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued
Fiction Saturday – Chapter Two Continued
In a matter of seconds a waitress came over carrying a steaming coffee pot and a six-page menu.
“Yes, please.” She wanted to eat and get out of there as soon as possible.
One driver seated at the counter let out a bark and panted in Beverly’s direction. The waitress shook her head.
“Don’t mind them, Honey. They been sucking in diesel fumes all day.”
As the waitress poured a cup of strong coffee she let her practiced eyes give Beverly the once over.
“So, what can I get you, Hon, or do you need a couple of minutes?” She had her pencil ready to scribble down the order.
“Can I just get a small Chef’s Salad with low-fat ranch dressing on the side?” asked Beverly.
“Sure. I’ll get that for you real quick.” She had it down and was gone in seconds.
Looking around the room, Beverly could tell that she wasn’t in New York anymore. The faces on the people didn’t look strained and suspicious. In the booths with families there were two parents and the children weren’t acting out for attention. No one was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle.
The waitress returned carrying a large bowl teeming with lettuce, cheese, eggs, and chunks of ham and turkey.
“Thank you, very much,” replied Beverly.
As she set down the bowl and a rolled paper napkin holding a knife, fork and spoon, the waitress slid into the booth across from Beverly, leaned forward and spoke in a whisper.
“Look, Hon, I know it ain’t none of my business, but I can tell you’re not from around here and that you’re in a fix. I ain’t prying, but you seem to be a decent sort and if I was you I’d try to not stick out so much.”
“I beg your pardon? What are you talking about? I’m not in any kind of trouble,” said Beverly. She wanted to get out of there. The waitress didn’t move.
“Then why do you keep looking around like you’re expecting somebody to come through that door with a baseball bat? Look, Honey, I been there. I’ve left two husbands—in two different time zones.” She smiled, trying to relax her scared customer.
Beverly looked the waitress in the eyes, then lowered her head, and stared at her salad. “Is it that obvious?”
“Dressed like you are? It sure is, Honey. Look around. Do you see anybody else in here in three inch heels and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag that I’ll bet ain’t a knockoff? You stick out like a nun in a whorehouse. That’s why those goofs at the counter were acting like idiots. You look like a million bucks and you’re sitting here in the middle of the dollar store. You need to blend in so nobody remembers you’ve been here.”
“I thought I was blending in up until now,” Beverly said. “You’re right, I do want to be invisible. How can I do that?”
“Hang on for a minute. I’ll be right back. We’re short-handed and I’m covering six extra stations. Don’t run away on me. Eat your salad.”
She slid out of the booth and quickly moved to three other tables, taking orders and clearing away the leftover scraps of hot roast beef sandwiches and stacks of pancakes.
The ease with which the waitress had homed in on her and what she was doing frightened Beverly. Was she that obvious? If a waitress in Indiana could spot her, how long would it take someone less benign to flush her out?
Beverly looked around the room again wondering if they were already here, just waiting for the right moment to kill her. She could feel the panic rising in her throat—a burning, bile-tasting sensation. She wanted to run—get up from the booth and bolt for the door, take her chances in the parking lot. She felt in her bag for the Charter Arms revolver and flipped off the safety. Before she was halfway out of the booth the waitress was back carrying her steaming coffee pot.
“Where you going? Relax, Honey, you’re safe here. I know everybody in here. They’re all harmless.” She quickly scanned the room. “After a fashion.”
Beverly stopped and moved back into the corner of the booth, not satisfied with the waitress’s appraisal.
“Now, look, Honey, I can see you’re scared, but don’t get panicky on me. You’ll do something stupid if you panic.” She filled Beverly’s half empty coffee cup.
“You’re in the Midwest now, halfway between here and there. I don’t know if you’re heading east or west. My guess would be west. You just reek of New York, Honey. But my point is, you gotta start looking Indiana, or at least like someplace west of DKNY.”
“How can I do that? You don’t know how much trouble I’m in,” said Beverly. Her whisper growing loud enough that the nearest table with a family of four turned their heads toward the booth.
“You’re in enough, that’s all I need to know. Do you have any cash? Enough to not have to use your credit cards?” asked the waitress.
“Yes, I have cash. I haven’t used my cards at all.”
“You’ve thought this out, smart move. Okay, here’s what you need to do. If you are heading west, at the next exit is a Target. If you’re going east, there is a Wal-Mart two exits going that way.”
“I’m going west,” said Beverly. She felt like a student in a class for remedial runaways.
“Then listen to me,” the waitress said. She lowered her voice so that Beverly had to pay close attention. “The first thing you need to buy is either a few turtlenecks or some Almay Concealer makeup.”
“What on earth for? Turtlenecks? Concealer? Why?” asked Beverly.
“‘Cause, Hon… I can see the marks on your throat where he tried to strangle you.”