When he got back to town the light was low and growing amber. Slicing under branches the sun touched items usually shielded by the trees; the bottoms of doors, asphalt under cars, tabletops by windows; sneaking a flash deep into store displays. It was close to time to shuck his sunglasses. Hunger banged around his gut. A convenience store banana wasn’t enough to get through the day let alone the night. Passing through town he decided to see what the Riverside Diner had to offer for dinner. Bottom line he could get breakfast for dinner.
Looks like the senior rush, he thinks as he pulls up. Full-size American cars are the flavor of the day in the parking lot. They are beasts and their drivers fear banging them together so they are widely spaced and none are parallel. Deciding to park away from the lumbering iron he puts the bike by a blue Toyota Corolla at the far edge of the lot. No need to get the bike knocked down or run over. Walking across the gravel lot he sees gray ponytail come out the kitchen door and start walking toward him. A blue Corolla makes sense for her. As their separation narrows he stares overly hard. He was wrong. She’s nowhere near as old as he thought in the morning. Maybe it was her work scowl but now she’s clearly not much older than he.
She startles him by speaking. “You clean up pretty good!”
“Thank you.” Rubs his chin, “It’s how I lose weight.”
Close together now he realized her face is smooth, without crow’s feet, but not stretched or frozen with botox. She mush run a hard scowl at work. Or maybe she was having a bad morning. They pass. He stops and turns around asking “Hey, what’s good here for dinner?”
Cued by the crunch of gravel from his stop and turn, she turns and starts walking backward like she was born that way. “You like Chili?” She asks still moving away.
Watching her move away he sees her youth as she walks away facing him. “Is it good?”
“Nope,” she turns and then lifting her head and bouncing the words off the trees in front of her says, “The Knife makes great fried chicken!’
At her blue car she pauses with one foot on in. “Billy the Knife. The night cook.” So smooth it looks like the car has vacuumed her in she disappears into the drivers seat, the car starts, clicks into gear and moves.