PREFACE

Some moments in certain places lend themselves to become a story. The cosmic timing of a situation links itself to become something greater. Some would call this happenstance. Others may label it coincidence. A select few would call this magic. For the next eight weeks, Creative Writing Club proudly presents eight tales from the Ram’s Horn Diner, a venture into the magic of coincidence, a serial of circumstance.

PART 3

“Just coffee. Black.” Those were the only three words the detective shared with the waitress, briefly breaking his focus when she came by to take his order. In the back of his mind, he hoped he hadn’t been too cold. She was cute—reminded him of a girl he’d dated way back when. But he hadn’t come to eat, drink coffee or remember better days. He was on the job. Unbeknownst to her or anyone else, he was looking for a murderer.

On the books it was still a kidnapping. That’s what the police believed and were running the case as—perhaps to give the mother who’d hired him some semblance of hope as well as to keep her from doing something stupid like trying to play cop. But she knew better. With all the rumors floating around about disappearances out of the area similar to her son Eddie’s, she grimly doubted at all that he was still alive. She’d known any other P.I. might pass the case up as just another college kid bailing out of the pressures of academia. She needed someone who could believe something darker was happening here.

Detective Malone rarely took cases that weren’t based around some rumor or urban legend, and this was one such case. He was a man who’d seen things in his 10 years as a P.I. to the point he’d always be glad to find out that a story was just a story. This case however, as bizarre as it seemed, just had a smell that he couldn’t shake off him.

His investigation had taken him here, the Ram’s Head Diner, where all he could do was observe.

There was something off about the place, he felt as much through a sense he couldn’t quite discern. What was it? It looked and smelled enough like a diner, and, from the coffee, tasted like one too. Was it someone disrupting the atmosphere in some subtle way? Who was it? The killer? He surveyed the room. At one table there was a group of old men chatting about “fish” before erupting in an explosion of laughter.

Behind them, a perturbed man in a coat seemed to be eyeing his own plate with some degree of suspicion. At the next table a lone man was staring forlornly at a stack of strawberry pancakes. Next table over a man was sitting between two girls, chatting away amongst themselves. Here was also that sound, Malone noticed. That soft whirring sound that seemed to rumble somewhere beneath his feet. Some kind of generator? Maybe his tinnitus? But still, something seemed off about that sound. Neither conclusion explained the muffled sound of shuffling feet he’d sworn to hear for all of a sec-

His thought was interrupted from the paper boy moving past him. He couldn’t have been more than 25, so there was no doubt he could get around someone like Eddie. He was pretty well built too, and someone who could easily overpower him. Could he have been involved?

The paper boy tripped, falling flat on his face at the table in front of the man with the pancakes. He fell so hard that he looked like he might’ve broken his nose. The detective shook his head. Poor, clumsy kid, he thought. Definitely not him.

After he didn’t move for a solid half-minute, people started to worry, Malone included. Unable to get back to people watching, he got up and squatted next to him to check that he was okay. When he did, he saw something that made a light flip in his head. He knew where Eddie was.

After checking the boy’s pulse to make sure he was alive, he let someone else handle him. Not like his clumsiness was his problem-and now Malone had bigger fish to fry.

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