The people in the diner were only a step above the very ones he had been working so hard to help. They worked hard, had their vices and were most likely stuck right where they were. It is a hard climb to get above one’s station in this world, but one little slip and you can fall so far down the ladder that you never stop.
A short, swarthy, little man is staring at me. I think he wants me to lock gazes with him, but I am not in the mood. I know who he is, not personally, but I have seen the look. He stands and walks out of the diner, curiously ignoring me now. He will head place a call once he is outside. Albert will know I’m here.
The same waitress brings my toast and cup of burnt coffee. I try to ask for coffee, but she turns and walks away from my table before the plate stops rattling. A couple of packets of sugar and some tasteless, dry creamer are added to the cup and I choke down my first sip of the day. Something about the coffee scalding my throat and stomach sets off an internal need. I haven’t eaten since we started running and I realize that I am starving. I devour the soggy toast after spreading a thin layer of grape jelly on it and choke down the rest of the coffee, a poor final meal if things go bad.
I look up at the clock on the wall and note that Albert’s informer has been gone about fifteen minutes. I should get going, but as bad as the coffee is I need a second cup. I wave the waitress over and ask for a refill from the dirty pot she’s carrying. She gives it to me with a tired sigh and manages to spill only a little. It doesn’t taste any better than the first cup, but it satisfies my need for the touch of reality it offers. I place the rest of my money on the table, the tip is more than the bill, and walk out front just in time to see a grey sedan with black windows pull up across the street.
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