Sunday, November 03, 2013

Fast Food of the Gods 02


Of course I was unnerved. Friends don't speak to one another in the bathroom, let alone complete strangers. And how did this guy know my name? And what was he talking about anyway? Afraid of who? I turned my attention back to the business at hand, and said aloud, "Look, mister, I don't know who you think..." I had finished up and was turning back to better address the strange guy, but I was alone.

I washed my hands quickly, and walked out of the restroom back into the lobby. The gang was at our table, but my bathroom visitor was nowhere to be seen. I walked past my friends over to where the man had been seated when we first arrived. His newspaper was still there. I absentmindedly picked it up, and went back to where Erica, Rebecca and Andy were sitting. The three of them were watching me with mild curiosity.

"Did any of you see that old dude?" I asked.

"He walked past me when we sat down," Andy informed me. "Headed into the restroom right after you did. Isn't he still in there? I didn't see him come out."

"Yeah. He..." For some reason, the idea of discussing the "conversation" I had had with the stranger with my friends gave me pause. The whole exchange had weirded me out, and while I knew sharing weirdness made it more comfortable, something held me back. "...Well, he must have left already." I finished lamely.

Rebecca's order was called and mine right after. I got up and told her I'd get both of them. "Such a gentleman," Andy said.

I walked to the counter, pausing momentarily to throw out the newspaper the old man had left behind. As it was leaving my hand and entering the trashcan, I could have sworn that I noticed the date on the paper was not today, nor even the day before, or even a week ago, which all would have been normal. The paper the strange old man had been looking at was dated from April 14th, 1995. Who reads a newspaper that is almost twenty years old? And even more mysterious - that day was Erica's birthday.

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