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Out of Place

“Say, mister, you sure do look familiar.” The teenager set a fresh cup of coffee on the counter. He made Nick nervous.

“That so?” the old man, said. “Well, my wife always tells me I never met a stranger.” He took a sip of Joe and ruffled open his newspaper. It was his defense mechanism, like a porcupine puffing out its quills.

“I don’t know.” The boy returned the coffee pot to the burner behind him, then leaned on the counter to study Nick. After a few seconds, he said. “Well, are you ready to order your food?”

The diner was empty except for the two of them, and the cook in the back. There was no place for Nick to hide.

He raised his eyes just enough to catch the boy’s name tag: “Will.” Nick chuckled at how grown up little Billy Fisher had gotten.

“I’ll just have bacon and eggs, if you got ’em.” Nick stroked his beard.

“Sure, I’ll get that right up.”Will’s eyes lingered on his customer while he scribbled on an order pad. “Bacon and eggs, Ralph!” he called as he ripped off the top sheet and pinned it to the wire running into the kitchen.

Nick bobbed his head to get a look at the man in the back, who must have been around thirty. That would be Ralphie Anderson.

“I think I figured it out!” Will snapped his fingers, still facing the kitchen.

Nick sighed. This was always the danger in venturing out into the world. Recognition. He took one more sip of coffee, then lay a finger against the side of his nose.

“Did you used to be a substitute teacher at McKinley High?”

Will spun on his heels to face an empty dining room, and the smile slid from his face.

Published inFlash Fiction

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