Seasons of Change
place had been buzzing at night. There would be a constant stream of truckers and travelers coming into the diner, but that was before word had gotten out about the Angels. Now, most people tried to avoid Painted Rock at night.
    Truckers would add another hour onto their journey just to bypass the town to avoid the MC that had gained a reputation for taking what they want without asking any questions. The Bleeding Angels were “bleeding” this town dry, and there was no one to call time on them. There was no one left who gave enough of a damn to do something about it.
    Tonight the diner wasn’t even a quarter full, which meant the tips would be pretty pathetic, but at least the night shift was charged at time and a half. I wait for the last few tables to finish up and ask for the check, then go back to the psychology textbook I’d borrowed from the library.
    I had found the psych introductions that we’d had in high school so interesting that I’d become a bit of a nerd, reading whatever I could get my hands on that was linked with the field. I suppose a psych professional would say that my interest in the human brain had something to do with my mother’s breakdown.
    I wonder if there is something to that theory—that I’m looking for a way to bring her back. I read the college textbook underneath the counter until the owner of the diner, Dick, walks in. I then push the book further out of view to avoid a lecture from my boss on the importance of “front of house” courtesy.
    Dick is an improbably small man but he still manages to live up to his name. When he had hired me, he had made it clear that he wasn’t taking me on because of my summer waitressing experience or because of my work ethic—it was because of the way I look.
    He had “suggested” that I undo a couple of the bottoms on my uniform to give the customers enough to whet their appetite so they come back, but not enough to make them feel like they’ve seen it all so they don’t need to become a regular. The only time I followed his so-called suggestion was when I knew that he was due at the diner.
    I quickly realized that flashing a bit of cleavage wasn’t the reason that our regulars kept on coming back—it was Big George’s cooking. He’s the one that makes Dick’s Diner what it is: one of the most successful businesses in Painted Rock. Dick treated him like he was something the man has found stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
    I’d asked George why he lets Dick get away with the way he treats him, but all George had done was concentrate on my lips as I spoke and smile cheekily at me. Then, in the middle of tossing a pancake, he had pulled an earplug out of each ear and shrugged as I hooted with laughter.
    After the business from the truckers started to thin out, so did Dick’s hair and his visits. He pretty much just leaves Big G in charge now and doesn’t even try to make a semblance of a show of running the place. The only time I really even see him anymore is for the monthly handover of payment to the Angels, and every time he sees me he forgets my name, despite having worked here for years and despite the fact that my uniform bears a name-tag.
    “Evening Dick,” I say his name more emphatically than is necessary, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
    “Right, evening...” he starts and then looks at me as if he has never seen me before.
    It’s pretty funny actually; Dick started to forget my name around the same time I told him that if he kept feeling my ass I’d report him to the police back when my dad still had some friends on the force. Dick is known around town for liking girls who are way too young for him—girls who are young enough to be his daughters. Dick edges around me as if he’s concerned he may accidentally touch me and I’ll make good on my threat to report him, and he heads into the back to speak to Big George.
    Only a couple of minutes pass before Dick comes

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