Death At The Diner
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Death At The Diner

A short story about a young woman in the days leading up to her mother's tragic end.

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Death At The Diner
Alexandra Michalski

Mother died today, all because of some deranged lunatic. One minute she was opening up the family coffee shop, and the next she was on the ground dying. I was at her side when she left this world for the next. The man who killed my mother was not a stranger to me. For the past two weeks, he would come in every morning and order the same thing; a large coffee and a doughnut. I remember the first time he came into the shop, he stood out like a sore thumb. The morning rush is made up of people on their way to work, and that means suits and ties. This man, on the other hand, waltzed in one morning in ratty clothing that had to be as old as me. I assumed he was looking for handouts and was about to tell him to scram when he got in line behind the other customers. I kept an eye on him as he made his way to the front of the line. As he paid for his order, I noticed that he had given me a fifty dollar tip. That was more than an entire day's tips at once! Before I could thank him the mystery man was gone.

Over the next few days, the man continued to visit the shop in the morning and give me an outrageous tip each time. Mother noticed the extra cash within a day and inquired who was tipping so generously. When I told her about the ratty looking man who came during my morning shift, she asked how such a poor looking man could have so much to give to others. I simply shrugged my shoulders and decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

After a week of this, I finally asked the man what his name was. He told me it was Henry and then asked for my own. I told him it was Maria and I could have sworn that his eyes lit up, almost as if he recognized me. Today was different from the others though, instead of tipping an insane amount he simply handed over a handful of ones. I took the wad of bills from him and noticed that a scrap of paper had gotten mixed up with the cash. I tried giving it back to him, but he declined, stating that it was for me. He then turned around and left the shop, coffee, and doughnut in hand.

When I went on my break an hour later, I unfolded the crumpled piece of paper. It was just an old receipt from a gas station, but there was something on the back. I flipped the paper over and saw some hastily written letters asking for me to meet Henry at the park around the corner. I decided to go and see what he wanted with me. So I told my mother that I was going on a quick walk and would be back soon. She wasn't too happy about me leaving her alone at the shop, but she let me go anyway.

As I entered the park, I immediately spotted Henry sitting on one of the park benches. I sat down next to him and glanced at the huge book in his lap. I asked what he was reading, and he replied with "Nothing." He then stated that he had a couple questions for me and I told him that I had some for him as well.

He let me ask the first question, and I told him that I was curious as to how he was able to tip so generously. He explained that he was actually the CEO of a company who was currently undercover as a poor citizen. He claimed he wanted to see how the other half lived. I nodded my head, and he asked the next question; did I like working at the family-owned shop? I said, "yes" and asked as to how he knew that my mother and I ran the business. He replied that he had heard me call for mother once or twice when the register was acting up. I then asked what had brought him to town and he told me that he used to live here a long time ago, but he had come back to fix something he left behind. He then asked if I felt safe around my mother, I raised an eyebrow and replied "yes?" What was he some sort of social worker? He then started to ask even more weird questions that pertained to mother and the shop in general. Halfway through yet another question I glanced down at my watch and feigned surprise. I quickly apologized to Henry and told him that my break was almost over. He said he understood and I quickly ran back to the safety of the shop.

Mother looked up with worry as I ran in through the front door. She asked if something was wrong. I thought about saying nothing, but I decided to let her know. She listened quietly as I told her all about Henry and his weird questions about her. When I had finished, she stated that she did not want me to go anywhere with this man, and if he tried anything funny, she would call the cops on him. I agreed with my mother and vowed not to go anywhere with him ever again. Sadly Henry continued to come to the shop every day handing me a new piece of paper each day. I assumed he wanted to meet with me again, so I simply stuffed the notes into the back of the cash register. If they were out of my sight, they would stay out of my mind. At least that's what I kept telling myself.

It had been a week since meeting Henry at the park when it happened. Mother and I had just gotten to the shop. We were in the process of opening it when there was a knock on the glass door. Someone obviously couldn't read, our sign still said closed. That didn't stop the person from knocking, so my mother went to the front door to explain that we weren't open just yet. I watched from behind the counter as she had a hushed conversation with whoever was at the door. The conversation grew louder by the second and the next thing I know I heard a gunshot. I saw my mother was falling to the ground. That's when I finally saw who had been at the door, it was Henry. I let out a bloodcurdling scream and raced towards the store phone. Henry took off down the road as I called 911. The woman on the other line told me to stay on the phone, but I hung up so that I could be by mother's side. I looked down at her bloodstained chest and her now pale body. She was losing blood fast, and if the squad didn't get here in time, she was going to die. They didn't get here in time. Before she passed, she took my hand in her own and just like that she was gone.

When the police arrived, they had many questions for me, and I told them everything I knew. One officer asked if he had tried communicating at all after my encounter at the park. It was then I remembered the notes, and I ran to retrieve them. I laid them out in front of the police officers, and we looked them over. Five were requests for me to meet him in the park once more while the other two were quite disturbing. One explained that he believed my mother was a monster and was trying to harm me. While the other had five words hastily scribbled on it; I am sorry my daughter. The man who had murdered my mother turned out to be my long lost father.

This new information helped the cops tremendously, and they said that they would let me know as soon as they found any leads on where he might have gone. I don't have the patience for a long drawn out search and an even longer trial. I was going to find my father myself, and I was going to make him pay.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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