“Bill,” John said, in lieu of hello.
“John,” Bill replied, nodding his head.
“How are you,” John asked.
“Oh, the economy, you know.”
“Yeah, it’s not good, that’s for sure.”
Both men looked down at the patterned carpet covering the restaurant floor, stumped for a minute on how to continue the conversation.
“You’re a ways from home.”
“Yeah well, I’m up here looking in on the folks.”
“Oh yeah I forgot they were up this way. How are they?”
Before he could answer, a man from an adjacent table dropped a cloth sack onto John’s empty plate. John could see the brown and black wallets piled up inside the bag. However before John could reach for his own wallet, Bill hurriedly picked up the sack and said, “Oh that’s okay, John. It was good seeing you again.”
Bill clutched the cloth sack to his chest with his left hand while his right hand continued to hold the shotgun steady. Slowly Bill backed toward the door.
“Nobody move!!” Bill commanded.
In a split second, Bill had backed out of the restaurant, the door slamming shut behind him.
John stared at the red velvet curtains covering the door as they swayed first one way then the other. Minutes passed. The curtains stopped moving.
Reluctantly John turned around in his seat. Everyone in the restaurant was staring at him.
Clearing his throat, John said, “Cheque please.”