He sat at the same table inside the diner like he did everyday, and ordered the same breakfast; two egg over easy, two pancakes with syrup, four strips of crisp bacon and a black coffee. His presence was always anticipated by a certain waitress, who had the name 'Jane,' plastered across her name tag. She was what one would call curvy and had nice skin and her hair was as red as the dust from mars. Her beige uniform fitted her form perfectly, showing off her flat stomach and ample behind that he couldn't take his eyes off. The patrons couldn't help but notice their silent but understood attraction for each other, how he would thank her excessively for her service or clean up after he had eaten, putting everything in a neat pile and leaving her hefty tips. Colin Tindale was a mystery writer. He was a tall man in his early forties, with a full head of brown hair, interspersed with gray ones just over his ears. He had the look of a dark Matthew Modine and he dressed well, maybe because he could afford to do so. Today he wore a navy blue Ralph Lauren turtleneck sweater, beige slacks, maybe the same brand and a black pair of Hush Puppies loafers and a long tweed coat, as if portending today's weather
Colin was an accomplished writer of a series of mystery books and whenever he came into the diner, it wasn't just to eat but to scout for characters and he did this by gaining inspiration from the other customers around him. From his vantage point, he just had to sit and covertly observe them. He marveled at the old woman who was once very poised and beautiful. She would sit quietly in a corner with her shawl thrown over her shoulders and order her tea and pie and the handsome, middle age gentleman who wore an almost oversized trench coat. He loved to sit by the window with a hot cup of coffee, black, and longingly look outside like he had lost something precious, like his heart to some distant love. Everyone inside 'Lily's Diner' knew who Colin Tindale was and in some way were wildly aware of the release of his new book tomorrow. The book was touted to be one of the best murder mysteries ever written in a long, long time. Jane came up to his table and poured more coffee into his cup. She just smiled at him and moved away. She could see that he wore no socks, even though it was cold outside and declared to herself that he had nice ankles.
Colin finished his breakfast and habitually left back one pancake and a strip of bacon. He left Jane her usual tip, waved to her, pressed his hat to his head, threw on his coat and left the diner; all eyes were on his back.
Everyone read the book with fervor. 'The Death Of A Waitress,' was the name of Colin Tindale's new book and in no time it hit number one on, 'The New York Times Best Seller' list. He had grown accustomed to fame and having money and this book was just another coin in the basket as he would say. Before his success, putting words and ideas together was all he lived for, but that art became burdensome; sated. Maybe the acquisition of a hefty retirement fund was all he needed to secure himself for old age and a cabin in Maine. Now that he had those things, writing became blase' to him. Colin though, flinched at the thought of giving up writing altogether. Once there was a public that loved him, he will shamelessly continue to mersmerize their souls with the art of his youth. He hadn't been to the diner in awhile. For the past week he had been travelling the country, attending book signings and suddenly he felt the need for pancakes and Jane......Jane's coffee that is. He missed her in some inexplicable way and with it being cold outside, he longed for her warm smile to get his fire going.
As he passed by the diner the other night from a book signing stint, he rolled down the his car window and looked inside and saw her in her perpetual jolly mood, intermingling with the customers. Colin found himself envious of them basking in her presence and wanted to go inside, but he was so tired from all the driving. Tomorrow for sure he will go in for breakfast but when tomorrow came, he just slept and slept. But today, Tuesday, he must have pancakes. The minute he entered the diner, his eyes sought her out, but all he saw were somber faces and darting stares and he swore he had another head growing out of his neck. He took off his hat and sat down, all the time his eyes searching for her but there was no Jane. This was her shift, maybe she was sick. Nonchalantly, Sue, another waitress came up to him and briskly poured him some coffee; her visage one of subtle contempt.
"Where's Jane, is she around?" Colin asked calmly, taking up the coffee cup and putting it to his lips.
Sue didn't respond but just moved to another table. He lifted an eyebrow in her reaction to his inquiry and sipped his coffee and as he did he could see the customers whispering, their lips moving, forming words that proved to be senseless and surreal.......dead? Jane was dead?
"Dead? How can she be dead? I saw her in here two nights ago and she looked very alive to me!" He promulgated, looking around.
"They found her body two blocks from here, hogtied and with her throat slit.....," Mr. Moody related onerously amidst bites of his sandwich.
".........just like in your book, Mr. Tindale. I don't trust you writers.....locked up all day, all alone with crazy thoughts circling your heads. Maybe you can tell us who would commit such a heinous crime? Was it you, Mr. Tindale?" Said another patron, female by nature, namely Mrs. Dewer.
" Have you all lost your goddamned mines?! How can you think such a thing?" Colin shoved his cup aside and stood up, "the news is as bad as it is and now you crazies come up with this lunatic idea that I am responsible for this?!"
"Apparently you came up with one, too. Poor gal, how she must have suffered,"
"What? I.....Jane, where is she?!" Colin demanded and dropped himself on to the chair with his head in his hands. Tears were beginning to well up in is eyes.
"Where every dead person should be, if they are not buried, in the morgue." Sue said without any remorse for her raw words as she moved behind the counter; the coffee mug still in her hand.
" Is this what everyone in here is thinking, that I killed her?"
"In here and everywhere else. People knew you had a likeness for her just like your character in your book had for the waitress he killed, but the police say they have a strong lead and an arrest is imminent, something about fibers under the fingernails and a bloody boot print. How can you have missed this?" Sue pointed out.
"Sleeping. I slept for the entire day, yesterday."
His head was still in his hand, "I don't care what you people think, I liked Jane and there's no crime in that and if the police say they have a lead, then that's a good thing!"
"Good for you, but we can't be convinced otherwise. I would lock you up just for writing that crap. Now the poor girl's gone!"
"You will not prevent me from holding my head up high when I leave this diner because all I did was write a book. You and your small town, lynch mob attitude can kiss my ass for all I care!"
Colin stormed out of the diner with his hat in his shaking hand and his head dizzy. He was truly saddened for Jane's unfortunate demise and he will see to it that she has a good burial but he vowed never to go in the vicinity of 'Lily's Diner,' ever again.