This bit of flash fiction was based on the photo on the following photo from The Angry Hourglass:
The story wasn’t supposed to end that way. It started the right way. I woke up. Pulled on my three-day-old jeans with the hole in the kneecap. Chomped on the good half of a banana. Forewent brushing my teeth; there was no point. And arrived at the corner of Lithium and Crater just in time for the drop-off.
Nothing was said. Packages exchanged. He or she gave me a brown paper bag. I gave them a brown envelope. They drove away and I walked away, bag in hand.
Leave it at the counter, they said. Then walk away. Easy. I didn’t even have to stay and incur the aftermath. That’s what I did. Walked up to the counter, pulled the cat out of the bag, and left it on the counter.
She ruined it. I started to turn away.
“Hey, can I get ya a cup o’ coffee?” she said, in a slight Irish accent.
Nothing to it. She just held out a pot of steaming, freshly brewed coffee and welcoming smile on her face. I was just some guy. And she was just some small-time waitress in a small-time town in a big-time world.
I could drink a cup and then get out. That’s it. One cup. Okay.
“Yeah, sure, I’ll take a cup. No sugar or cream. Black.”
She poured it into a cup, gently set it down in front of me and I took it around the handle and sipped, gently, so as not to burn my lips.
Well-brewed, as good as any cup of coffee I’d had. Been to a lot of diners, but damn fine brew that was.
“Anything to eat? Donny makes a killer ham and egg sandwich. Been doin’ it for about 15 years now, I suspect” she said.
I forgot about the cat. I forgot about the time. I got up, abruptly spilling my cup on the counter and sprinted from the diner, with a look back at the waitress. She waved her hand, shocked, to get my attention.
I noticed she didn’t have a wedding ring on. Damn.