Cabin D

Cabin D by Ian Rogers Read Free Book Online

Book: Cabin D by Ian Rogers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ian Rogers
Tags: Speculative Fiction
    When the man in the houndstooth jacket stepped through the door, Rachel knew he was going to be trouble. It wasn’t until later, after he had dropped the biggest tip she ever received, that she learned trouble was, in fact, where he was going.
    It was a few minutes past eight on a Friday morning and Rachel was nursing a cup of coffee and leafing through the Sutter County
. The breakfast crowd had come and gone, and she expected things to pick up again, oh, sometime tomorrow morning. The Crescent Diner did a good business in the hours between six and eight AM, but afternoons and evenings were deader than disco.
    At the moment, the only sounds in the diner were the low gurgling of the Silex and the whisper of the ceiling fans turning overhead. Reg was out back having a smoke and the jukebox (which contained such golden oldies as “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Mambo No. 5”) was mercifully silent.
    The bell over the door jingled, and Rachel was so surprised by the sound that she almost dropped her coffee cup. She looked up from the newspaper and saw a man standing in the doorway.
    “Morning,” he said, and gave her a sunny grin. He squinted his eyes in order to read the orange, moon-shaped name-tag pinned to her blue rayon uniform. “Rachel.” He raised a hand in greeting. “I’m Henry.”
    The waitress’s first thought was that the man, Henry, had crawled out of a Salvation Army donation bin. In addition to the houndstooth jacket, he wore a paisley shirt, a plaid tie, and a pair of tan slacks so short they looked like flood pants. He was also wearing mismatched socks—one brown, one yellow and covered with a pattern of lobsters. She wondered idly if the circus was in town.
    She was about to head out back and tell Reg they had another homeless person in the diner, but something made her wait. She stared at the man a moment longer and realized that, despite his ragged, clownish attire, he clearly wasn’t one of the homeless vags who wandered in from time to time in search of food or money. He was in his late twenties or early thirties. He was thin, clear-eyed, and clean-shaven, and he didn’t give off the stink of either cheap wine or puke.
    “Hi Henry,” she said finally.
    “I just hitched in.” His jacket opened a bit as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder, and Rachel caught a glimpse of rainbow suspenders. “A trucker named Eddie Ray said if I wanted a good meal I had to stop in at the Crescent.”
    “You found it,” Rachel said. “In all its glory.”
    “Do you have an extensive menu?”
    Rachel blinked. In the five years she had been waitressing, she had never heard that question before. “I’m sorry?”
    “Well, I have some time to kill—and an appetite to kill, for that matter—and I was just wondering if your menu has a wide selection. I brought a newspaper—” he patted the rolled up copy of the
under his arm “—and I plan to bivouac in one of your booths for the day. If that’s all right by you.”
    “Bivouac,” he said. “Camp out.”
    Rachel was speechless. She was tempted to look out the wide front window and see if there was a camera crew out there. She felt like she was on one of those reality TV shows where they play practical jokes on unsuspecting people.
    “We have a pretty good menu . . . I guess.” She made a vague gesture. “Would you like to see it?”
    Henry held up his hand. “No need,” he said, still smiling. “I trust you.”
    Rachel watched as he went over and took a seat in a corner booth. He put the newspaper on the table and picked up a laminated menu. He began looking it over with the wide-eyed exuberance of a scholar perusing a rare folio edition.
    Five minutes later, he summoned Rachel over.
    “All set?” she asked.
    “Yes. I’d like the Full Moon breakfast—scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, toast (white bread, please), melon, and orange juice. I’d also like an extra side of

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