Mr. Right Now
The stranger hunched over a bowl of chili, watching the waitress who caught his eye when he walked in to the roadside diner. A bit of chili stuck to his lower lip and he quickly wiped it away. He worried that she might notice, but amidst the flannel-clad truckers, bearded transients, and other pinheads frequenting this shit stain, she would hardly notice a bit of chili on a stranger’s lip.
He studied her as she worked. She seemed to be on autopilot. She must have spent years walking the same dirty linoleum course. She shuffled from the cigarette stained bar to each torn red vinyl booth seat, then back. Hell, she could probably recite the whole menu from memory by now. But something in her eyes told him she did not belong here. Something told him that she was just surviving a job that barely paid her rent. She was waiting for Mr. Right to walk through the door, take her by the hand, and lead her off to a better place, just like in the movies. She had given up on her dream because Mr. Right never did walk through those dirty glass doors.
His stomach knotted at the idea and he gave up on his chili. Not today, he thought. Today, he will be her Mr. Right. He pushed the bowl away and stood up. The stranger pulled a black .45 from inside his coat, and racked the slide.
“Alright you motherfuckers, nobody move!” he yelled. Nobody moved. “This here is what we call ‘armed robbery.’ Everyone reach slowly for your wallets and just lay your cash on the tables.”
He remained by his stool and watched everyone laying out their cash. One particularly large trucker was moving more slowly than the others. Instead of a wallet, he produced a large revolver. Before he could get it leveled, the window behind him exploded in a shower of tinted glass.
“You can just put that piece down along with your cash, trucker. I’ll be taking that, too.” The trucker complied, laying the pistol on the table with a shaky hand and reaching for his wallet with the other. He looked like he might cry.
“Anyone else feeling stupid? I guarantee you, my dog barks louder than yours, ” he waited for a response, “that’s what I thought.”
He walked a circuit from the bar to each table, placing the money in his jacket pocket. He put the revolver in the back of his pants, and stopped at the cash register. A thin greasy-haired man in a shirt and tie stood motionless behind it. His hands were in the air and his mouth was slightly open. His nametag read, “Wade – Shift Manager.”
“Open...the fucking...register...Wade, ” he said, leaning in and almost fogging up the manager’s black-rimmed glasses. He felt like he was talking to a child.
Wade fumbled with it, his hands shaking, until finally the drawer opened with a satisfying ching! Wade stood back and put his hands back up.
“Wade, ” said the stranger, “will you please put the money on the counter? I really don’t want to have to shoot you in the face.” Wade nodded and began sliding the bills out of the drawer. “And don’t forget the fifties and hundreds under the drawer.”
As Wade continued stacking cash on the counter, the stranger turned his attention back to the waitress. Like everyone else, she had placed her cash on the counter and did not move. She was still holding a coffee pot and looking at the floor.
“You, ” he said to her as he swiped the untidy stack of bills from the counter. She looked at him tentatively, moving her eyes but keeping her head down. “You wanna spend the rest of your life holding a pot of coffee?”
She raised her head and looked around, first at the nameless rabble of regulars, then at Wade, then back at the stranger.
“Chance of a lifetime, ” he said, holding out his hand.
Her face went slack and she set the coffee pot on the counter. She didn’t say a word, just tossed her order book at Wade’s feet as she passed him.
She took the stranger's hand and they walked silently through the doors. He slammed the door of the 1972 Plymouth Barracuda and twisted the key in the ignition before she even got her seatbelt fastened.
“I may not be Mr. Right, ” he told her as the 426 Hemi thundered to life and he put it in gear, “But I’m Mr. Right Now.”
Bio: JP Anderson writes fiction and social commentary as an escape from his 6' by 6' modular prison cell. He has been banned from 8 shopping malls, 16 churches, and two small European nations for being offensive, immoral, and "posessing a rather offensive odour." Check out his myspace at www.myspace.com/moebiscuits.