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|Two customers and an accident all have a connection with one another. All constructive comments appreciated.||
By Caroline S. Brightman
Tracey heard the buzzer go as the diner door opened. She was quite surprised, as she had locked it just a few minutes back. She came quickly out the front.
“Sorry, we’re closed,” she called.
The man gave her an engaging smile. “Couldn’t I just grab a piece of pie and mug of coffee? I’m starving; I promise I’ll be quick. I’ve had a heavy schedule all day.”
She couldn’t resist his plea and took a mug from the shelf. “Mm. Okay – as long as you’re quick, mind. My husband will be here soon to take me home.”
“Is he coming by way of Oakley?” He asked sitting down on the stool.
“Yeah, that’s right. Why?” She motioned to the pies in their see through containers.
He took the coffee and pointed to the pecan pie as his choice. “The road’s blocked. There’s been an accident between an oil tanker and a station wagon. The tanker’s overturned spilling all its fuel across the road.”
“Oh! That doesn’t sound too good, does it?”
“The driver of the tanker’s dead but the other driver and his passengers will pull through.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I saw it happen. I overheard the paramedics,” he explained, reaching for the pie.
“How horrible. It can’t have been pleasant to have witnessed that.” She looked at her watch. “How long do you think the road will be blocked?’
“Quite some time I’d guess.” He ate a piece of the pie. “Mm. This is really good.”
“Oh – yeah. Thanks,” she replied distractedly. “I think I’ll phone Paul - see how long he’s gonna be.”
“Even if your husband turns around and cuts across Arlington, he’ll be a good hour or more depending on traffic.”
“Funny! My mobile’s dead, yet I only charged it up this morning.” She went over to the payphones but they were not working either. “That’s strange they’re all dead too. Must be a fault on the line. Have you got a mobile I can use?”
“Sorry, I don’t carry one. No need to.”
“Well, you may as well take your time now,” she sighed. “I just wish I could’ve got hold of Paul.” She took out another mug for herself gesturing to his empty mug. “Would you like another coffee?”
‘Sure. Why not Tracey?” he smiled, acknowledging her name badge still pinned on her uniform.
‘Funny isn’t it?” she said, sipping the hot coffee.
‘What is?” he asked, watching her face take on a dreamy expression.
“Well, you can probably board a plane and go to another country faster than the time its gonna take to sort out that accident. The world sure is a funny place. Not that I’ve ever been anywhere. Always wanted to travel, mind. Just never got round to it yet. I keep saying next year…and one of these days I mean to. Have you travelled much?”
‘You name it, I’ve been there.”
“Really? Oh, you’re having me on!” she grinned.
“No, I’m serious,” he reassured her. “I’ve been all over the world. Sometimes it feels
like a non-stop hurricane – whirling from one place to another. Never stopping long
before I’m off somewhere else.”
“I don’t think I’d like to travel that extensively,” she frowned. “What line of business
are you in then?”
“Retrieval. It keeps me very busy. As a matter of fact, I have an appointment due
The buzzer went as a young male opened the door. He looked nervously around.
“Sorry, we’re closed for the night,” she told him, somewhat relieved that she wasn’t
alone. She did not like the look of this youth, nor his shuffling in the doorway.
But how on earth had the door opened yet again she puzzled. Twice she had
locked it and now twice it had opened. When Paul finally turned up she would have
to get him to check it out before they left.
He stepped further into the diner his eyes fixed on Tracey. “You! Open the till and
give me all what’s there,” he ordered, pulling a gun from out of his sweater pocket.
“Do as you’re told and no one need get hurt.”
Tracey looked at the youth and then at the man, willing him to help her somehow.
But he just stared at the youth. She quickly opened the till and brandished a few
dollars in her shaking hands. ‘Here. That’s all that’s there. Take it and go!”
“No way! There’s gotta be more than that,” he exploded waving the gun in his
agitation. “Where’s the rest? Don’t go foolin’ with me.”
‘That’s all there is. I banked the rest earlier. We don’t keep much cash in the till
‘You’re lyin’!” His eyes were like leaping flames. “I’ll teach you to fool with
Tracey shook her head, fear welled in her body restricting all speech. He aimed the
gun, shot and ran off; the buzzer acknowledging his swift departure. Her body slowly
slumped to the floor.
The man quickly came round the counter and knelt by her side.
“Oh God! I’m bleeding. Help me!” She looked at the blood seeping down her apron
in horrified fascination. How much there was.
“There’s nothing to fear Tracey. Here, lean on me.” He gently tried to move her into a more comfortable position.
“Go…go down the road and call an ambulance,” she gasped, wincing at the pain.
“There’s no need for that Tracey.”
“What…What do you mean? Paul – where’s Paul? Please! Go phone an ambulance.”
“Tracey, do you remember saying how much you would like to travel?”
“What’s the matter with you? Can’t you see that I need an ambulance? Oh, there’s so much blood…got to stop the blood. Oh Paul, where are you?” She shut her eyes. She so desperately wanted Paul to be here.
‘Tracey, listen to me!” She opened her eyes again questioningly. He looked deeply into her eyes trying to get her to focus on him.
“No! I need help…why won’t you help me?” She could not believe he was still there and not trying to get help of some kind.
‘Tracey, please listen to me, I have come to take you on the greatest adventure of them all, and –”
“Are you mad! What are you talking about? Don’t you understand…I’ll bleed to
death unless you help me…Please help me…I don’t want to die!” Her voice rose in
panic. Why couldn’t she make him understand?
“Everyone has to die. Now it is your turn Tracey… you are my last assignment here.”
“No! No! What’s wrong with you?” She looked fully in his face. “Who are you?”
“I’m Death. And your journey’s just about to begin.”