Read an Excerpt
He had his book--Tom Clancy today--his cigars, and a five dollar bill. All he could drink coffee, one scrambled egg, one English muffin and a nice quiet booth in the back.
Damned close to heaven, if you asked him.
He liked this place because it was simple and quiet, the booths were comfortable and the food was reasonable. The coffee wasn't bad at all and the guy who worked the night shift took good care of things. He'd been getting up at 4:30 a.m. for twenty plus years, and, just because Bill didn't need to be at PT at five anymore ... Well, work started at 7:30 and this got him a nice quiet way to wake up.
He grunted at Cappy and nodded at a couple of vets at the counter and went to sit in his booth, opening his book immediately.
It wasn't too long at all before Jack came back with a cup of coffee and the little bowl of sugars and creamers. "Morning, Sarge. The usual?"
"Yes, sir. Looks like there's a cold front coming. You making something warm for lunch?" He put half a sugar and a whole creamer in his coffee.
"Sure thing, it's Wednesday; that means there's chili. You think there's going to be rain or even snow with that cold front?"
"Weatherman says not; my knee says yep." He grinned. "Don't know about you, Jack, but I'm going with the old knee." It was dead-on accurate. Had been since he'd had a metal pin put in after a bad landing.
Jack nodded, lines around the man's eyes crinkling. "I'll go with your knee, too. I can't remember the last time it was wrong. I'll go get your breakfast."
"Thank you, sir." He bent to his book, taking a quiet look as Jack walked away. Fine-looking man, that one. Hard-working,too, with an ass that wouldn't quit.
About a chapter into his reading, Jack was back with his breakfast. The man knew just how he liked it. Hell, Jack had been making it long enough--he ought to know.
"More coffee, Sarge?"
He nodded as he unrolled his silverware. Shit, Jack could probably tell him what he wanted for supper on any given day. "Thanks. Business going good?"
"Not bad. That chain restaurant that opened up down the road hasn't hurt business as bad as it could. We saw a definite dip though." Jack shrugged and winked. "They'll come back for my pancakes."
"That and the coffee. There's some stuff worth driving the few extra blocks." Besides, why spend his money on some chain when he knew where it was going here?
"Yeah. And service. I've always said there's something about a place where they know you by name." Jack smiled and nodded toward his book. "What's on today's reading menu?"
"Executive Orders. I'm thinking I still like Hunt for Red October better, but it's something to read. You're welcome to borrow it when I'm done." Jack always asked, and then he always offered to share.
"I'm still working my way through The Sum of All Fears, but when I'm done, I'll gladly trade it in for this one." Jack nodded at the bench across from him, the question clear. Jack didn't always have time to sit and chat, but when he did, it made for a nice diversion.
He nodded, peppering his egg and scooping it onto the triangles of bread.
Jack sat across from him. "You doing anything special for the holidays, Sarge?"
"Nope. I'll probably spend it at the veteran's home or sitting on the sofa watching the tube." Wasn't anything open then, and people were always busy visiting or some such nonsense.
"Yeah? Mother's going on a cruise this year, so I'm picking up a few extra shifts around then, though the kids like getting the extra hours while they're on holiday. I suppose I've a date with my own tube." Jack blinked and reddened just a little and then chuckled. "That didn't quite come out right."
He damn near swallowed his tongue laughing. "There's not a damned thing wrong with a man and his tube."
"No, I don't suppose there is." Jack gave him a wink.
"I hear some places may stay open Christmas, too." He shrugged, took a swig of coffee. "Hell, I might just order a large pizza the night before, you know? Go the easy route."
"Pizza? For Christmas dinner? That just doesn't seem right." Jack frowned and regarded his folded hands for a moment. "Now I make myself a little turkey, all the fixings. Some pie. I wouldn't mind having someone to share it with." Jack shrugged casually. "It just wouldn't seem right you having pizza while I've got a spread on."
Bill tilted his head. He wouldn't mind company, not at all. "I could bring some beer and..." What was that red shit in the can? "...cranberry sauce?"
"That'd be great. If you came around eleven we could make a day of it--watch the pre-game stuff, the weird specials, the games." Jack smiled. "Stuff our faces."
"You want me to bring some doughnuts or coffee or something?" Oh, that was a good-looking smile, too. Brought to mind how long it'd been since he'd had a warm body close enough to touch. Down, Tiger.
Jack chuckled. "It's been a long time since you did a traditional holiday dinner, hasn't it?"
He felt his cheeks heat. "Twenty, twenty-five years, I guess."
"Really? Wow. All right then, I'll have to do it all up right for you. What's your favorite half-time munchie?"
"Of all time? Those sausage balls--the ones with cheese in them." He was really blushing now, feeling spoiled. "But I'll grab some chips, dip."
"Oh, no you don't. I've got this sweet little guacamole, a spinach dip and some cream cheese crab dip. You bring the tortilla chips, but I'm going to cook you up a feast." Jack was smiling, rubbing his hands together. "Now don't feel bad--I really do enjoy cooking."
"Yeah? What kind of beer do you drink, Jack?" Oh, he was getting all hot and bothered. He was going to have to jack off twice Thursday morning.
Maybe three times.
"I like the microbrewery stuff actually. But I'll make do with Coors." Jack looked at his watched as the bell on the door sounded. "And I've got to get back to work. I'll catch you tomorrow with my address for Thursday, 'kay?"
"Yeah, sure. Thanks again. It sounds fun." He finished his egg and almost managed to get back into reading before he left his fiver on the table and headed into work.