The diner was pretty much empty. Several folk had come in to escape the torrential downpour, have a cup of coffee and wait for it to pass. A couple sat in the far left corner gazing out the window watching the hard rain beat rhythmically against the panes. Two fat men near the entrance ordered Maggie’s Super Special Saucy Supper and proceeded to devour the tower of syrup-covered starch in motion picture silence. The booth across from them sat three young teeny boppers giggling about their evening’s endeavors sipping chocolate milkshakes and speaking in hushed voices. The long stainless steel bar stretched across the diner with sky blue cushioned high stools screwed tightly into the ground evenly spaced alongside each other.
She sat there motionless. The steam slowly rising from her cup was the only indication of this illustration being reality. Large brown curls that would have fallen past her shoulders were tied in a mess and shifted to the left side of her head leaving two locks subtly framing the side of her face. Delicate brown eyes with long black painted lashes curling upwards stared fixedly ahead. Porcelain white hands held the rim of the cup, one holding the handle ever so slightly, poised, as if ready to take a sip.
Entering with his trench coat soaked, he paused, removed his hat and shook it slightly. Raindrops flicked off elegantly and sunk into the doormat that welcomed every customer with a ‘Howdy Stranger!’. Staring at it briefly he smiled and made his way to the bar, pulled out a cigarette and positioned it between his lips.
‘Ya gotta smoke for me handsome?’
Turning, he found himself looking straight into her large doe eyes and examining those palpable red painted lips that had uttered such soft words.
‘Don’t you know smokin’ll kill ya?’
She swiveled on her stool turning her body completely towards him. He noticed how she tilted her head slightly and crooked her smile in amusement, almost mocking him. Her skintight dress had a long open V-neck and was purposely unbuttoned at the top. Protruding from her top left breast was the tattoo of a sparrow holding a banner of which you could only make out the first 3 letters of a name.
‘Well now sugar, there’s worse things out there that could kill a gal like me. Ain’t ya heard? There’s one of them serial killers out on the loose round these parts’
She looked straight into his eyes with curious amusement.
‘And I thought this was just a nice place t’have a hot cuppa Joe.’
Looking straight back at her he pulled out his smokes and handed her one. Leaning over slightly he lit it for her. She inhaled slowly and released the smoke in perfect symmetrical circles continuing to stare right through him.
‘Thankin’ you sugar.’
Swiveling her stool over to face the bar again, she returned to her coffee.
‘Tell me miss, what’s a gal doin’ on her own at this time when there’s a killer on the loose?’
Closing her eyes, she inhaled again. When she reopened them she found his deep blue ones still looking cautiously at her.
She knew. He had found her.
Maybe it was the way he walked and that his shoes squeaked when he first came in. It may have been the stereotypical hair that never moved, the plasticity of his face or even the neutrality of his voice. But there was something warm in his smile, possibly unnatural. She could tell by the coat or maybe it was the tie? It may have been that now the voices in her head had become a buzzing hum in the background, it made the moment more intense and surreal or did it make it more real? She inhaled again and batted her eyelashes.
‘Well sugar, I just wanna be a part of the action.’
‘Headlining tomorrows paper as murder victim number 6?’
‘Number 6? Is that all? I’m sure I’ve read something outrageous, like there’s been 500 murders, or something’
She looked somewhat cocky with a twinge of hidden disappointment. Laughing, he pulled out another cigarette.
‘Victim number 501 then if you like. But tell me, why’d ya wanna go and come to this diner here. Why now?
‘Well, it’s about time I was in the papers.'
Straightening up, he placed his hat back on and motioned her to follow him. Winking she opened her purse, pulled out a mirror and proceeded to apply a coat of deep red lipstick. Returning the items to her purse she stood up. He picked up her coat and helped her put it on.
‘If I’m gonna be on the front page, I wanna make sure I look good.’