By J. David Thayer
An Open Invitation to All Time Travelers Living in Our Future:
1. My name, as you no doubt know, is Peter Stanley. And 2. I would very much like to make your acquaintance. If you would be interested in interviewing a Midwestern American citizen from my particular era of history, you’ll find me in a booth near the restroom at the Nothing Significant Diner in Shippley, MO, on 1 January 2021, beginning at noon CST. Look for the portly man facing west and wearing a white fedora with a navy band. Since you no doubt have the ability to calibrate your machines with great exactness, I should expect you to be punctual. Notwithstanding, I am prepared to wait two full hours for your arrival. After such time, if no party has accepted this invitation, the fact shall serve as conclusive proof that 1. Time travel will not be possible in the near future (relative to my own timeline). And 2. Further more, time travel will never be possible for our species at any time.
Rooting for you and for all of us. Good Day.
Peter Stanley posted this same communique in every format he could muster. He flooded his social media platforms, of course, but he also spammed the comments sections of every YouTube video he happened upon over a two-month period. He ran an ad in four issues of the Terrapin Times. He stapled some old school flyers to telephone poles. Gave one to his barber. He even hocked his grandfather’s wedding ring and bought a half dozen overnight radio spots. Then, on New Years Day, 2021, Mr. Stanley took his booth at the Nothing Significant Diner and began waiting for his guest to arrive.
Peter had certainly dressed for the occasion! He came through the door rocking a white fedora with a navy band. No one had ever seen him wear it before. Additionally, he boasted an impressive Hawaiian floral print shirt ablaze with pineapples and oranges and coconuts and colored in stark reds and yellows. The man was a walking vexilloid summoning all scattered fringe to rally for some undisclosed cause. This was not the Peter Stanley Shippley knew. Normally the precautions Peter observed while out in public bordered on paranoia. The man routinely supposed himself followed or eavesdropped upon or otherwise subjected to any number of covert tactics designed to monitor and thwart his Deep State counter-initiatives. This typically led Peter to dress in the most muted tones available. Blacks and grays and olives and browns and always dark glasses. Who knew he even owned clothing this loud! Clearly Peter wanted to make his identification as easy as possible for his hypothetical guest. Nothing would be easy today.
The first hiccup came when Peter first arrived at the diner and found a family of five already seated in the booth mentioned in his promotional materials. Instant panic. He stormed over to the high counter and whisper yelled at proprietor Lee Buchanan manning the grill.
“Lee! Damn it, man! How could you?”
Lee did not instantly recognize the offense he had inflicted. Peter motioned towards the occupied table with his head several times. And he did the same with his eyes after that. Still nothing. Finally, Peter walked over to the community bulletin board on the opposite wall and violently stabbed his own flyer and the corkboard surface underneath five or six times with his right index finger.
“I! Have! A! Reservation! And! An! Appointment! Get me now? Told you about this two months ago when I stuck this up here, Lee! This is history, sir! And you just set those people in my booth? With four or five others still open?”
Then the whole of it washed over Lee Buchanan. He did remember. Remembered the big production Peter had made while affixing his flyer to the bulletin board and tearing down other indigenous leaflets of obvious less importance. Lee was almost looking forward to Peter’s experiment, until three weeks ago or thereabouts. But the novelty of it all sort of fizzled out for Lee and he eventually forgot all about it. Until right then.
“Oh, right! Pete, relax. Think about it a minute.”
“You’re meeting someone from our future, right? But this meeting is actually taking place in that person’s past.”
“And so your guest already knows the Hendersons will be sitting at that booth when high noon gets here today. It’s a matter of record! He or she or it has obviously allowed for this and no journey will be attempted until sometime after Gene busses the booth and Diane brings you your coffee. You’re good. Really. It’s okay.”
Peter considered this logic. There were no obvious holes that he could identify. However, none of this made Peter any less fussy. He pulled himself up to the high counter on the stool nearest the poor family enjoying their New Years Day brunch and tried to unsettle them with his presence. He glared at them and tapped his finger and read the latest Terrapin Times newspaper with exaggerated ruffling and scribbled a big circle around his own add on its back page and did whatever else he could think of to communicate to the Hendersons that they must immediately exit his historic booth. Company was coming! They kept right on eating and never noticed Peter at all.
Finally the booth was vacated of interlopers and bussed and made ready to entertain the Open Invitation at 12:38. Peter Stanley was nearly in a state of apoplexy but Lee Buchanan was absolutely correct. Peter conceded that much if only to himself. It was not actually possible for Peter to be late. His appointment from the future would know exactly when to arrive no matter what obstacles presented themselves within Peter’s timeline. His present was also the other party’s past, and any annoying details would already be fully understood by him or her or it and the same would simply adjust accordingly. Fine! He sat down and began scanning the room for incognito possibles. He made a list of eight individuals on a handy napkin, complete with an approximated floorplan and an itemized location of each. Next came the arduous task of eliminating unworthy suspects in hopes of ultimately discovering his time-displaced comrade. A simple matter of careful and methodical deductive reasoning.
The idea had come to Peter Stanley all at once. It was so simple! Why hadn’t anyone thought of this before? To address the enigma of time travel, one must first consider the nature of time itself outside the confines of our own limited linear experience. To us, A must follow B must follow C and on like that. But if our species ever unlocks the means to jump to any point at any time and in any order, then that old equation becomes invalid. Suddenly everything is always possible, irrespective of order or superposition. If a thing will ever be possible, then it is already possible, right now, to the man or woman or entity living in that day. All Peter would need to do would be to set a single fixed point in history, sent up as a flare of sorts, by which all capable time travelers could set their respective sextants. They would come to him, from wherever or from whenever. See? Simple.
To test this notion, Peter decided to invite any being up to the challenge to meet him for lunch in Shippley, Missouri. By his rationale, his Open Invitation, though tied to a fixed point from his perspective, actually remained valid forever. What difference did it make whether humanity managed to harness time travel in fifty years or in ten-thousand? Keeping this reservation at the diner only required the time machine operator to set the dials accordingly and through the doors he or she or it would come from whenever. Peter and the diner were the constants. The other variables would sort out themselves. However, if the whole of future humanity collectively decided to stand up Peter as he sat there in that booth, given the lengths to which Peter had gone to publicize the opportunity, all of which would likewise become simple matters of researchable history to those living in far flung futures, well. Such a result could only mean humanity never develops the ability at all. Across the entire speciate span from this minute until our ultimate extinction. A sobering thought, but facts are facts.
In any case, that light which dawns only in the minds of generational geniuses shone upon Peter Stanley that day. So inspired, he set out to prove or disprove once and for all whether humans would ever claim navigational superiority over spacetime. All while enjoying French toast and crispy hash browns. Waitress Diane brought this exact order to Peter at 12:43. Only seventy-seven minutes remained in this historic window. He began stirring excessive sugar into his coffee, offset by one creamer. The rapidly-elapsing time made Peter anxious and a touch nauseous. But there were many customers inside the Nothing Significant Diner at 12:43. Particularly for New Years Day. Perhaps his guest was here already and was waiting to make his or her or its move. Lee had some college football slop playing on the house flatscreen and Peter found this unspeakably distasteful. No wonder future ambassadors might be reticent to decloak themselves whilst standing among this rabble of lake country troglodytes. End up with your severed head impaled on a pike likely as not.
The townsfolk thought Peter Stanley a quack. This had been the general opinion for years and not without ample evidence. There had been previous stunts similar to this. His current experiment offered little to challenge the accepted civic view, and Peter received no small amount of brazen mockery from the local halfwits and quarterwits. Even the radio spots, for which Peter had paid good money, were buffered on either side by the sarcastic comments of whichever intern happened to pull overnight board duties at the country AM station.
But as the day approached, more than one Shipplian had to choke down thoughts of rubbernecked curiosity. Noting the absurdity of it all was low hanging fruit, but what if it worked? What if a future traveler came into the Nothing Significant Diner and a person missed the whole thing just to watch the same New Years Day parade available on TV every year? A ridiculous notion, to be sure. But should that remote hypothetical actually come to fruition, being somewhere else instead would be a missed opportunity impossible to substitute. It was worth ordering an omelet and waiting on absurdity just to ensure nothing that horrific ever came to pass. Some rationalized to themselves that they owed it to humanity to be onsite just in case. After all, should an ambassador from the future actually arrive, Shippley could hardly afford to let Peter Stanley stand as emissary for the Terrapin County way of life. Several such-minded people accounted for part of those unusual numbers at the diner that afternoon. But these reluctant hopefuls kept their agendas to themselves, of course. They simply ate their food and stared at Peter’s booth without staring and wondered even what they should root for.
Peter worked on shedding his pouty countenance so as to avoid ruining his big day. He returned to fumbling with the latest edition of the Terrapin Times. Stories of local interest on heavy goldenrod stock. Free copies in the little metal stand inside the entryway vestibule. His Open Invitation announcement was printed below the fold on the back page and measured two inches by three inches. Looked impressive. Should work. Then he remembered that his man at the paper said he’d be at the diner to chronicle today’s event. He lifted his eyes from the paper and scanned the room. No Mike Flannery. 1. The T Times was supposed to be the paper of record for all of Terrapin County! And 2. It only came out once a week! Where in the hell could Flannery be right now that was more newsworthy than meeting dignitaries from the future? He called the paper. New Years Day or not, Mike Flannery answered the main business line.
“Mike? Pete. Where the hell are ya?”
“Peter? What? Oh. The time travel thing. Yeah. I’m supposed to head out to the farmer’s market today out on FM 119. Sorry, buddy.”
“The damn farmer’s market? You can’t be serious! 1. They set up every week! And 2. This is history! What are they thinking?”
“I don’t know. I guess my editor knows for a fact that new trucks of produce unloaded just yesterday and so he knows the food’ll actually be there when I arrive. Meanwhile waiting around for your future scientists is maybe a bit of a gamble. Hate to put it that way.”
“And 3. It’s the dead a winter! They don’t even have melons this time a year!”
“No. No, that’s true. This is root vegetable season. Turnips and potatoes and carrots. Look. Sorry, Pete. I was just heading out. Gotta go. Best a luck to ya.”
The line went dead. Peter Stanley sat there astonished.
“I just got passed over for a truckload a turnips. That really just happened.”
No matter! Back to his list of eight possibles. Six were men and two were women. Three were in one booth together. That was a possibility Peter had not considered but it suddenly made a lot of sense. Why send only one representative when you can send three? Such travel would be difficult. Or at least it would be at certain intersections in history. If it were ever possible at all, eventually time travel should become routine and easy. Compare the Ford Model A to the Lamborghini Countach and then extrapolate that analogy to the production of commercial time machines. Certainly, early models would be crude compared to later models. Perhaps these gentlemen live in a timeline where sending a team of interviewers is just as feasible as sending one person alone. They looked official enough. And they certainly had the air of colleagues rather than close friends.
He watched them.
Wait. Nope. One of them pulled a paper document from a briefcase. A briefcase? What is this, 1986? No way there’s a future where traveling back in time is doable, yet we still carry around hardcopy documents in leather attaché cases. If anything Peter was a future ambassador visiting their archaic present. He crossed all three off the list and with gusto. But suddenly Peter did have unexpected company! Two locals, and he knew them well enough.
“Hey! It’s Pete Stanley, waiting on important dudes from the future!”
Chuckie Jenkins and Zeus Archer sat down in the historic booth opposite Peter Stanley. Both were likely aided by some sort of unidentified chemical courage but that was immaterial. They acted the same high or straight or drunk or sober.
“Here we are, Pete!” They laughed to themselves and high fived each other. “What do you want to know, Earthman of Yesterday?”
“Get outta here. Both a ya. I ain’t in the mood for you two jackasses today. Take your skinny asses outta my booth and go on and pester somebody else.”
“Wait, wait!” This was Zeus. “I have a message from the future!” He closed his eyes and put his fingers to his temples. “Ummm… Your water glass is going to tip over in three… Two… One…”
Chuckie fulfilled the prophecy.
“Happy New Year from the future, Pete! Ya ignorant fat bastard!”
Both erupted in slobbering laughter. Lee had had enough.
“Alight, I’ve had a enough. Beat it! Don’t make me call Sheriff Adams. Or your dad, Chuckie.”
They attempted to save some face in front of the other townsfolk, but neither goon wanted Lee to do either of those things.
“We’re outta here,” said Chuckie. “You just wait, Pete. You too, Grillman. Both y’all just made my list. We’ll square up one day.”
Chuckie and Zeus giggled their way back outside and stumbled down the hill of the adjoining parking lot to Chuckie’s room at the Gizzard Shad Motel. A young woman in a booth near the jukebox inexplicably followed the hoodlums down to the motel room. Now Peter’s list of possibles was down to four. Peter wanted to formally issue a general apology to any future dignitaries who might have witnessed this buffoonery, and he nearly did. Instead, he grabbed a handful of napkins out of the chrome dispenser and began sopping up the puddled drinking water. Gene and Diane came over to assist.
“Sorry, Pete,” said Diane. “You don’t deserve that.”
1:17. Forty-seven minutes remaining. Crossing off the party of three and the girl now inside the Gizzard Shad Motel left four possibles on Pete’s list. One was a woman at the low counter. Pete put her somewhere in her late thirties. She made it onto Peter’s list because Peter had never seen her before. But this was hardly a significant distinction today. Nearly half the diner’s patrons that afternoon were people Peter did not recognize. This was extremely unusual for the winter months. Tourist season brought all sorts of visitors to Lake Pangea down the hill and the entertainment district along Stoneglen Avenue. But this was New Year’s Day and it was too cold for all that. More than simply being unfamiliar to Peter, this woman just seemed out of place. Uncomfortable. She kept looking around as if she were expecting someone. At first this encouraged Peter. But the more he thought about it, the fact that she seemed so disoriented actually worked against her. Peter’s guest would know what he or she or it was about. That was Strike One.
Then she reached inside her coat and pulled out a package of generic cigarettes. That was strikes Two and Three. No way ambassadors from the future continued to smoke tobacco. And if they did, they surely wouldn’t smoke that cheap crap this poor woman pulled from her inner jacket pocket. Peter never considered himself to be a judgmental person, but there he was: eliminating candidates for the most superficial reasons imaginable. Couldn’t help it. Simple deductive reasoning led to conclusions too obvious to ignore just for the sake of upholding lofty ideals of open mindedness. But try and argue with it, if you can! You just don’t send people into the past on official summits with a pack of generic cigarettes. And say you manage to get back to the past and somehow smoking is your hidden vice. Do you then walk into the Git Gone Fast! and buy the cheapest cigarettes available? No! You shoot for the moon! You don’t go through all that trouble just to buy those tubed pencil shavings she was unwrapping and packing away with rhythmic habitual hand motions. High priced tar and nicotine or nothing at all. Nope. Not her. She was out.
Three possibles remained. All were men. Two were together and one was a solo. The two sitting together shared a booth three rows up from Peter and two rows over to his left. They seemed very displeased with their order. Each man picked at his food as if some flexible boom extending into space had deposited an unexpected synthetic substance onto his plate. Peter watched them closely. One could have concluded that these two men were completely unaccustomed to diner food. And Peter did. That was a great sign. All that confused them appeared to be overhard eggs and bacon and hash browns. They called Diane over to their table.
“Ma’am, what is this?”
“It’s what you ordered, hon. Breakfast Salad.”
“Right! But this isn’t a salad at all. What is this? Where are the greens?”
“Oh. See. Gotta read the menu a bit closer, babe. Here at the Nothings Significant Diner, Breakfast Salad is just what we call whatever meat and eggs and cheese and such you order tossed over a bed a hash browns. You just ordered it standard, and that’s what you got. It’s not really a salad per se at all. You must be passing through town. Honestly, I’m not sure anything green has come in here since Lee bought the place a few years back. You want me to bring you something else?”
“No! We can’t eat this and we probably can’t eat whatever else you’d bring out here. Your salad includes no greens? Thank you, but we’re leaving. Your name says it all and shame on us for not taking the warning literally. Our fault. Excuse us.”
The two men got up and hurried out the door. One had ordered and drank an unsweet tea but Diane did not quibble. Peter nearly tried to stop them but he realized there would be no point. If they were there to meet with him concerning limitless time travel, menu nomenclature confusion would hardly spoil the encounter. Eliminated. One possible remained.
Now Peter’s watch read 1:52. No new customers had entered the diner in the last two hours. Either the Open Invitation included this lone remaining man or no one was coming at all. If so, theoretical time travel would be debunked and absolutely. A lot at stake when you consider the whole of it. Now 1:53. Peter panicked. He left his historic booth and approached the only viable candidate left inside the Nothing Significant Diner.
The final possible was a gentlemen in his mid-fifties. All he had in front of him was a glass of water. He sat at a table instead of a booth. That was Strike One but Peter was desperate. He walked over to the table and pulled up a chair opposite the stranger.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Um… Good afternoon?”
“I see you’re sitting alone. You’ve been here a while and you’ve only ordered that glass of water.”
“Should I be concerned right now?”
“I don’t think so. No one else in here knows who you are. Just me.”
“Um. What? How do you know me?”
“Well… I’m the one you’re here to meet. It’s you! It has to be. I’ve run through seven other possible candidates and none of them panned out. That leaves you.”
“I’d love to know how you got here. What vehicle, I mean.”
“Um… A Dodge? Look. You’re really creeping me out. Who are you and what do you want?”
A woman came through the door and walked up to the table.
“Hello, dear! Is this a new friend you just met?”
“I have no idea. Um… Sir? This is my wife Linda. And you are?”
“You brought your wife? From the future?”
“Your wife from the future? What is he talking about, Russell?”
“I don’t know. He just came over and sat down here right before you walked in. I think he’s off his meds.”
“Poor fellow! Let’s try to slip out to the Caravan.”
Peter laid all his cards on the table.
“Okay. Come on. I know it’s you. You got the booth wrong, but fine. It’s me! See? White fedora? Navy band? I know it’s you! Why else would you be sitting here drinking water for the last hour and a half?”
“Oh, dear. Has it been that long? I’m sorry, Russell. I guess I got carried away at the store. It was darling!”
“Never mind, Linda. Look, sir. I think you need help. Honestly, I have never seen you or your hat before. I have no idea what you’re talking about. We’re coming through from Chicago on our way to San Diego and my wife saw your Clemens Department Store there on the Square. And open on New Years Day, even. She dropped me off here and then circled back to do some shopping. I only ordered water because I wanted to wait for her. I kept assuming she’d be here any minute. I was getting worried, honestly.”
“I’m so sorry, Russell. I got you two new pairs of pants.”
“Can we call someone for you? A friend? A doctor?”
Peter was utterly deflated and defeated. He knew this man wasn’t really from the future before he left his historic booth. Somehow he thought he could force the issue if he insisted hard enough.
“No. No thanks. I’m sorry. Sorry to have bothered you. I just thought maybe you were someone else.”
Peter got up and headed back towards his booth. He looked at his watch. 2:07 PM. It was over. Window closed. No visitors from the future. Time travel as a concept splintered into kindling. Peter remembered the Hendersons sitting at his historic booth when he first arrived and decided to try blaming Lee Buchanan one last pitiful and defeated time.”
“Thanks a lot, Lee!”
The proprietor was too absorbed in frying up orders and monitoring their various stages of completion and trying to keep up with a surprising run on key lime pie to register the sarcastic intent of Peter’s comment.
“Sure thing, Pete! See you soon.”
Peter Stanley walked out of the Nothing Significant Diner and went home to his house on Chimney Red Ct and turned on the TV. He stared at the strobing light for several hours without registering the broadcast. Empty. Sad. Confused. Humiliated. A laughing stock and the village idiot once again.
There were four time travelers inside the diner that day. And all of them ordered key lime pie. Our eventual descendants reacquire this forgotten confectionary gem during one particular trip, and the discovery spawns an insatiable craze for key lime pie somewhere off in the future. The reintroduction of the color goes on to dramatically impact fashion for generations. Everyone wearing key lime everything and painting their interiors to match. The Nothing Significant is thus rebranded as the birthplace of key lime pie, and is recognized for establishing its standard of perfection. During Lee’s timeline his pies were considered mediocre at best and many sat in the display cooler undisturbed until two days past spoiling. But don’t tell the future that. Accepting the Open Invitation, but skipping the key lime pie, would be like driving to Niagara Falls and climbing the stairs and then clamping shut your eyelids until someone led you by the hand back down to the car. People were going to ask.
As for the travelers themselves, none of them had made Peter’s list of eight possibles. Too regular or too gauche or too young or just plain too dull and all of this was orchestrated by careful design. None attempted to sit at his booth due to obvious catastrophic paradoxical fallout. Implosion of spacetime and cascading rupture of all dimension and our knowable reality shredded and so forth. Peter had considered this possibility and summarily dismissed it as a naysaying speedbump poured onto the interstate of progress. And a buzzkill besides. But the danger was real enough and the travelers were exceptionally careful. They were there to observe and record and enjoy the pie and nothing more.
Reality implosion or no reality implosion, numerous travelers took sidearms with them and enjoyed emulsifying Chuckie and Zeus where they sat. Given the recursiveness of the endless time loop, the actual risks to spacetime were considered remote enough to allow these satisfying bits of sport. Besides, there was good money in it. Splitting the hoodlum’s atoms into cosmic dust was an added excursion and a significant upcharge. Their boorish behavior and the prochronistic vigilante justice it sometimes inspires fuels countless ethical debates for centuries to come.
To say there were four time travelers present is accurate but incomplete. This same day has been relived countless times, in an endless loop, with future tourists waiting in an automated queue for two years at minimum. Unfortunately, the maths and mechanism allowing for any of this are developed far beyond the timeline of your narrator, so those details cannot be included. However, those brains eventually equipped to unravel the technologies necessary also determined that a maximum of four visitors could answer the Open Invitation without throwing existence into ever fragmenting chaos. So four new and different tourists arrive, the two hours plays out exactly the same, those tourists return to their own timeline, and the next set of snowbirds heads to ancient Missouri on New Years Day 2021. It is only possible for your narrator to gasp these machinations in the most general way, and only a few of those, so this explanation appears to be at an end. Apologies. Hopefully the reader can connect the outlying dots in his or her own timeline.
For all of Peter’s publication efforts, it was a single YouTube spat that did the trick. Peter had spammed the event in the comments of a documentary by contemporary Bigfoot hunter Stoney Gephardt in the Pacific Northwest. Gephardt considered the move a distasteful hijacking of his channel, and the exchange became so heated that the entire thread was documented by exactly the sorts of organizations Peter Stanley feared the most. In fact, it is the Sasquatch Community itself that first references the Open Invitation shortly after the means to attend is discovered. If not for this, the Invitation itself would have indeed remained unanswered.
The first few visits are purely scientific, of course. But eventually everything worthy of study becomes documented and analyzed and catalogued and lectured and papered and hologramed ad nauseam. The life of Visionary Quantum Theorist Peter Stanley most of all. His entire legacy will be included in the most basic holographic primers of childhood education and continuing to study him becomes akin to petting a llama at the zoo. Charming and delightful, to be sure! But hardly a cache of new scientific information. When all academic pursuits are utterly exhausted, the diner is turned over to the tourists seeking archaic pie. Eventually three planets and one comet come to bare some derivative of Peter Stanley’s name.
As the years wore on, Peter enjoyed imagining how far the radio waves from his AM spots must have penetrated into space by now. One day he would have the last laugh. How long would it be before an intelligent race worthy of his time and attention received those signals? How many eons beyond count must pass before a superior being in a separate galaxy would answer his invitation and validate his theory? And by extension, validate Peter himself and the rest of his life’s work? But each time he allowed himself to mentally travel down that seductive road, the natural progression of thought would invariably lead his mind off that flattering pavement and onto the same abandoned gravel wagon trench, where the going was difficult, until finally terminating at the same cruel dead end: 1. He remembered the whole of his theory, not just the pleasant bits. And 2. Specifically, Peter’s experiment had definitively proven this could never be the case. Not ever.
Even four billion years into the future and even in a separate galaxy altogether this could never happen. Else that future being would simply dial up 1 January, 2021. Earth: Shippley, Missouri. And doing so, it would then go backwards in time and thus would have joined Peter at the Nothing Significant Diner on that cold New Years Day. But no being did and therefore no being ever would. He would further remember that he and the diner were the constants. Apparently the other variables could never manage to sort out themselves as Peter had hoped. Myth debunked. Proof and absolute. This was the end of time travel.
But then Peter would also remember the French Toast and the crispy hash browns and the coffee. Not the worst consolation prize ever awarded. It wasn’t the same as meeting his Year 4K doppelgänger, but good food is timeless in its own right. Hey, it wasn’t so bad. He’d been an even bigger fool than this on at least a four separate occasions and he survived those missteps as well. On to the next thing! Remembering the meal always made him feel a little better. Sometimes the memory delivered enough prodding to send Peter back up to the diner and order the same thing again and exactly the same way. He continued eating at the Nothing Significant Diner for the rest of his days. Always French Toast and crispy hash browns and coffee with lots of sugar and a single creamer. But he never sat in that booth by the restroom again. Couldn’t even look at it. And he never donned another white fedora, with or without a navy band. Sometimes his eyes would pause inexplicably on the key lime pie sitting in the display cooler. This happened enough times that he eventually bought a slice to satisfy a vague and random curiosity.
It wasn’t all that great.
About the Author: J. David Thayer is an educator living in Texas. His works have appeared in 24-Hour Short Story Contest (2nd Place), The First Line, The Last Line, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bewildering Stories, 101 Word Stories, Tall Tale TV, Black Petals, Farther Stars Than These, Terror House Magazine, 50-Word Stories, The Drabble, 365 Tomorrows, 42 Stories Anthology, Scarlet Leaf Review, Sirens Call eZine, and Pilcrow & Dagger.
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