Time to Eat

Drumwell watched the yolk ooze from his pierced fried egg. It flowed against the dam built of bacon. He sipped black coffee from a beige mug, never taking his eyes off the golden trickle. When the reservoir reached peak capacity, Drumwell snapped the corner off his burnt toast and dipped it in the yolk. He stirred gently and then ate the bread and drank the remainder of his coffee before shifting his attention to the morning paper.

It’s the front page story. Pretty big news for a pretty small town.

“Hey Doll, I’ll have another one.” Drumwell, not looking up from the paper, dangled his empty mug in front of the passing waitress.

“Sure thing.” the waitress complied, grabbing the mug. She stopped when she noticed the newspaper. “Got any leads, mister?” she asked.

Taken aback, Drumwell looked up from the paper and gave his uppity waitress the stern eye.

“What’s a broad like you doin’ askin’ questions like that?”

“I figured you’s a detective. I seen you around, ya know.”

“Of course I got leads,” he lied, slouching back in the well worn Hermister’s Diner booth bench. “A couple are berries too, Doll.”

The waitress rolled her eyes. “My name ain’t Doll, mister, I’m Missy.”

“That woulda been my second guess,” Drumwell shot back. “..and I’m Drumwell, not mister.”

“Yeah, but ‘mister’ is a nice thing to call someone if you don’t know his name. ‘Doll’ just ain’t very nice. Anyway, Drumwellll...” Missy sassed, “I figured you’s a detective and I seen you lookin’ at the story everyone’s talkin about. And bein’ a detective, maybe you’s someone that’s actually tryin’ to figure out what happened. Maybe you know somethin. And maybe you’ll tell me!”

Drumwell grimaced. “So I’m not the only detective in here. Tell you what, you solve the mystery of where’s my coffee and maybe we talk”, he nodded toward his mug in Missy’s hand.

“Geez, alright, alright,” Missy turned and sauntered toward the counter. “One coffee, comin’ up.” She pushed through the sky-blue swinging kitchen door and tossed the empty mug on the prep table. She picked up a telephone handset.

Drumwell drew a pouch and a clump of papers from his pocket. He wet his thumb with his tongue and peeled a single paper from the clump. He unfastened the pouch flap and pulled it back, immediately enriching the air with the fragrance of smooth Maryland tobacco. Unaware of his waitress’ glare through the kitchen door window , he pinched at the tobacco and sprinkled a line of it onto his paper.

“Yeah.” Missy said into the handset, peering through the kitchen door window. “Yeah, yeah he is. He just wants more coffee.” Her glare hardened to a scowl as she observed Drumwell patting his overcoat to find a lighter. “Jesus Christ, he’s gonna smoke.” Missy snapped her fingers at Gladys the dishwasher and pointed at the coffee cup. Gladys frowned, rinsed her hands, and collected the mug. Missy nodded to Gladys and wrapped up her phone call. “Yeah. Yeah. Ok, I gotta get back out there. Yeah.” She hung up the phone and pushed the kitchen door open, then realizing she forgot the coffee. Missy stretched her hand back into the kitchen where Gladys gave her the mug full of breakfast blend.

“Here’s your coffee, Drumwell!” Missy hurried to Drumwell’s table as he picked up his hand-rolled cigarette.”Here ya go.” She put the coffee down in front of Drumwell, hoping to redirect his intentions.

“You’re a real dish, Missy. A real dish.” Drumwell said out of the corner of his mouth with a wink. He opened the lighter’s lid with a flick of his wrist and struck at the flint wheel with his thumb. He did not achieve ignition and again struck the wheel. A small flame danced to life. Missy grabbed Drumwell’s wrist as he moved the lighter to the cigarette in his mouth. “Hey, what gives?” he exclaimed, dropping the unlit cigarette onto the table.

“You ain’t gotta smoke that in here do ya?” Missy pleaded with a frown. “Mr. Hermister don’t like it and besides, no one else is smokin.” Drumwell peered around the diner. He saw many patrons growing more curious toward the outcome of his conversation with Missy peering back, but he did not see cigarettes, lit or otherwise.

“Fine,” Drumwell conceded with frustration. “I’ll be back sometime.”

Drumwell tossed some currency on the table and collected his belongings as Missy took his plate away. Wearing a frown, he opened the diner door and stepped outside into the grey rain of the gull-burdened boardwalk to enjoy a cigarette and consider his next avenue of investigation.

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