Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gold After Gray – Part 2

He smiled a grin that was a little too straight, a little too white and a little too fake. His hair was platinum and gold swept straight back. The eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean. His nose was Roman, crooked enough to be strikingly handsome. His cheekbones, elegant chin and jaw line hinted at some noble breeding. The dark suit he wore clung to him cut in a style reminiscent of European aristocracy. It traced the length of his tall, lithe body and made anyone who looked upon him aware of tense muscles filled with a power that could be unleashed any minute. He was out of place here in this dingy diner surrounded by obese truck drivers and used up women. None of them would look at him twice, as if they dare not see a picture of pure human beauty and know that they would never see it again. These types of people would not trust a man like him. Like a woman who hates another woman who is more beautiful, or a man who covets the wealth and perfection of another, he was a nemesis. But he couldn’t blame them; if he ever let anyone really know him they wouldn’t trust him either. They didn’t have to look at him though, they all felt like they had seen him, met him, before. When he looked at someone, when he addressed them it was as if he were speaking to an old friend, and that is how they responded. All these people would love him, if he wanted them to. He would not have to ask, they would ask him if they could. If he spoke a kind word to them they would feel blessed, and everything they thought upon first seeing him would be vapor in the breeze. He could make these men kill each other and burn this diner to the ground if he just called them “pal.” He smiled a moment at the thought then turned his mind back to business. He had no time for games. He was working.

The waitress watched the smile vanish from his face and she felt as if someone had turned out the lights. She stood, slouching, tapping her pen on a green pad, waiting for him to give her his order, which she hadn’t asked to take.

“Black coffee please, dear.” He spoke slowly, deliberately the feint accent of the moneyed south escaping his lips as they parted to flash that brilliant, odd smile. The waitress, well past her prime, blushed and felt something akin to chemistry crackle between them.

“You got it hon’” She answered a little breathlessly. She hadn’t been in the mood to call a customer “hon’” in years. Decades of serving the slobs who passed through this greasy spoon had worn away her desire to please and left a dry splintered courtesy that consisted of saying little and hearing less. Today, right now, she felt like she was eighteen again and this handsome stranger offered a world of endless possibilities; she only wanted to serve him perfectly. She served him from the fresh pot that was in reserve, waiting for the pot of stale brew to be wasted on the other customers. He accepted the cup graciously; looking into her eyes he thanked her. The waitress felt like she might be melting.

“Hey!” One of the perspiring truckers was yelling. “Hey you!” She was standing still waiting for the stranger to acknowledge her again. “Hey bitch! Damn you I need a refill.” The waitress turned her head violently, dull red hair flashing and spinning. The look of wonder had faded from her face, she felt forty two again and her moment’s entrancement had faded. She trudged down to the end of the counter and filled the loud mouth’s coffee cup from the fresh pot she was still holding. Annoyed by the brash loudness, the handsome stranger turned his head, painted the smile on his face and nudged the extremely large, bearded man on the stool next to him. The gigantic trucker turned his head lazily and frowned at the stranger. His grunt of acknowledgment sounded like it was ripped from a snoring grizzly bear.

“Hey, buddy.” Said the stranger, still smiling. The trucker’s demeanor changed in an instant. His frown vanished and the grin that split the salt and pepper of his beard was massive, yellow and crooked. “Fine morning ain’t it” said the stranger speaking in colloquialisms to more easily relate to the man.

“Best I have ever seen.” Said the huge trucker, ready, willing, and able to please.

“That bastard down at the end, the one with the loudmouth, he sure is mighty rude ain’t he?” The trucker turned his head to stare; when he looked back his face was ruddy with anger.

“Yeah, mighty rude… the bastard.” He agreed.

“I say somebody ought to whoop his ass, don’t ya think?”

“Yes!” The trucker nodded emphatically.

“You are a mighty big fella, I bet you could give him a good ass whoopin’ huh? The rude bastard.”

“I’ll kill that rude bastard!” the trucker blurted out and lifted his four hundred pound frame from the bar stool with a slow intensity. He faltered, turned to look back at his new friend and when he saw the strangers glittering smile he charged down to the end of the diner. “I’ll kill you, you rude bastard! You deserve an ass whoopin!” He screamed and with a dive as graceful as a jumping whale he buried his smaller, but still quite large, opponent.

“Don’t kill him pal!” The stranger shouted to his monstrous champion, and then he sat silently sipping his coffee. It tasted terrible to him and a thin layer of grease floated on top splattered into the air by the unwashed grill. At the end of the diner the big man was winning easily, punishing the loudmouth for his rudeness. Every once in a while the behemoth was heard to say “Rude bastard!” Soon he grew too tired to keep hitting the man and instead just laid on him recovering his wind, taking five, before he could hoist himself up and stumble back to his bar stool. The patrons had gathered around the moaning victim, he was beat up but not too bad. The fat man’s soggy fists were heavy but soft. “Nice work, chief” commented the stranger. The fat trucker beamed, he would feel no happier if he had just hit the New Mexico megabucks.

He turned back to the waitress who was grinning stupidly.

“Anything odd happen in these parts in the past few days, hun?” He asked

“Hell yeah!” she answered, happy to have some information to offer the handsome stranger. “Just last night some poor guy got his head beat in with a tire iron down at the Gas n’ Go.” Having what he came for he tossed a few dollars onto the counter and walked out.

As the finger print smeared diner door closed behind him a white sedan with the insignia of the county Sheriff turned off the two lane highway and rumbled lazily into the sun-baked parking lot. No lights flashing, no sign that the disruption inside was any type of emergency. The stranger stopped and leaned against the hood of his black BMW, his elegant form blending in with the sleek lines of the expensive automobile. From his coat pocket he mechanically produced a pair of dark sunglasses and nonchalantly unfolded and placed them on his face. This he did while watching the Sheriff park and step out of the dusty Buick. He was unimpressed, this was another good ol’ boy bumpkin lawman; over fifty, slightly paunchy, with just a hint of a former bullish physique, a mane of graying hair and sagging jowls. The Sheriff reached into the car grabbed his stiff brown hat and virtually slammed it down onto his head. As he approached the stranger could not catch his eyes, the morning sun was bright and the lawman still wore his dark glasses. He had hoped to charm some information from the Sheriff, anything he knew about the incident at the Gas n’ Go, but as the aging lawman approached, a small pin prick of fear ignited in the stranger’s belly. As the Sheriff moved closer it bloomed into a nervous anxiety. Composing himself the stranger laughed away this strange feeling.

“Howdy, boss.” He began “Mighty big tussle in there, I thought that big bastard was gonna kill that poor fella.” The Approaching Sheriff turned his head to look at the Stranger, but kept walking toward the diner door. “I saw it all, chief, I sure wouldn’t mind making a statement.” The Sheriff turned his eyes back to the diner, he never stopped walking. The subdued feeling exploded again in the stranger’s belly. How weak and vulnerable he felt at that moment, his trick had failed, like it never had before. Often young children were immune, but never a full grown man, a man who should be full of doubt searching for anything to fill a gaping hole in his psyche, a man, like all men, searching for approval. He wanted nothing more than to leave this damned county in this god forsaken state, to be far away from this man who had the power to take apart everything that he was, the man whose eyes had looked at him, into him, and found him lacking. The stranger hated that feeling more than anything.

A short lived moment of insanity grasped him he wanted to take the revolver from under the seat of his car and rush into the diner, to kill that old bastard who would not succumb to him, to eradicate any danger he might pose and then use his trick to make every person in the diner claim they had done it themselves. But the men at the top would not like that at all, they would want to know why he had done it, and if they ever found out his trick had failed, even one time, their need of him might rapidly disappear. He was a valuable tool, more valuable than most, only a few were better than he. Yet his stock would crumble if there were more men like this small time Sheriff in the world, luckily in 30 years he had never met another. Trembling slightly he composed himself, nervously smoothed the front of his jacket, straightened his collar and slid gracefully into the seat of his car. The engine roared to life and he carefully maneuvered out of the parking lot turning into the barren New Mexico desert in search of Nobody.


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