The rain was heavy as the black Harley slowed to a halt in front of the small diner.
A group of truckers in the only occupied table boringly turned away from the baseball game on the screen to see a wet riding poncho wearing a black cavalry hat and snakeskin boots come in thru the door.
The poncho opened to reveal a tall man in mirror-shades who nonchalantly sat the farthest empty table.
The truckers turned their attention back to the game, some of them muttering about ‘them damm city boys and their fancy bikes’.
A young girl with a worn-out apron approached the table.
“Ya want to see the menu?”
“No, thanks. Just bring me a Corona.”
“Kinda chilly out there with all this rain. Sure you don’t prefer a nice hot cup of coffee?”
“Nah, I’m used to the weather, the Corona will do. But thanks for asking anyway.”
“Wouldn’t you like something to eat? The chili’s not bad, and the cook made his special chicken-fried steak today.”
“I’m waiting for a friend. But you can save me a couple of slices of that pecan pie your boss keeps under the counter for later.”
The stranger looked at her over the rim of his shades and winked. The girl was halfway to the counter before wondering how he knew about the hidden pie.
The bell hanging from the door jingled as a tall and thin dark suit entered the diner. This time the bored patrons paid slightly closer attention. Wannabe bikers were one thing, but a suit was really out of place here. They side-eyed followed him as he made hid way to sit in front of the other stranger.
“Long time no see.”
“What are you doing here?” Answered the thin man in a voice deeper than you might expect.
“Nothing, I just heard the chili was really good in this joint.”
“And that’s why you’re only drinking beer?”
The girl walked to the table again.
“I see your friend’s finally here. And what can I get you, sir?”
“Coffee, black. No sugar, please.”
“You can bring those pie slices too now.”
“I’m not sure we have any pecan pie left, but I can get you some ice cream if you want.”
“Come on, Rose. I really want to try your grandma’s recipe. Just a couple of slices?”
“How in the devil’s name did you…?”
“Lucky guess miss. My friend likes to play with people’s minds like that. Ice cream will be just fine.”
The girl appeared a bit puzzled, but she finally let out a little tentative laugh.
“No, if your friend’s such a good guesser he deserves his slice.”
She returned to the kitchen, unaware of the looks the other customers gave her. Who were these strangers and why were they getting so damn fresh with their women?
“Just here for the chili, eh?”
“I know why you’re here.”
“I’m here to ask you to take it outside. Leave this place alone.”
“I can’t do that. I’m on a deadline And you know how much logistics go into a hit like this. The cook is just about to sneak a smoke inside the pantry right where there’s a gas leak…”
“Right where there WAS a gas leak.”
“You know you’re not supposed to interfere.”
“And you know I always do, so we’re even.”
“You fellas ain’t from ‘round here. Are ya?”
The man in the mirror-shades took a swig from his Corona before answering without even looking up at the big trucker.
“Well, that depends on what you call ‘here’, I guess.”
“What the hell’s that mean?”
“He means we are, technically, from everywhere. So, in a way, you could say we are indeed from around here.”
“You tryin’ to make fun of me?”
“Not at all. I’m actually here to pick you and your friends up. That is, if my friend here stops messing around with my schedule.”
“What’d ya mean pick us up? You fuckin’ cops or somethin’?”
“Something.” Said a pair of glowing red eyes behind the mirror shades, with a grin.
The thin man looked with two pools of black nothingness straight into the trucker’s eyes, sending a shiver down his spine.
“Holy mother of Christ!”
The words came out as a mere whisper. The group of truckers suddenly became very pale. They all hurried out the door like death itself was chasing them… which was just about to be the case.
“Well, you can be happy now. All that planing for a clean job and now I have to chase a group of scared truckers halfway around Texas.”
“It’s raining cats and dogs out there. That’ll surely come in handy.”
“There’s still the girl and the cook.”
“Give them a break.”
The thin man looked at his watch and sighed.
“Their window will close before I can get back anyway, and it’s too late to call for backup. But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“I do want to try their chili.”
“You owe me one. A big one.” Said a voice from a vanishing shadow.
The girl came back with two big slices of pie.
“Where’s your friend?”
“Had to leave in a hurry. Some sort of unexpected problem at work.”
“Well that’s a shame.”
“His loss. You think there’s still some of that chili left?”
“I’m sure I can get you some.” She answered with a smile.