In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
March 25, 1993
“Eggs over easy. Sausage and hash browns on the side.” Angie set the plate down in front of John, it was almost three in the morning and she looked tired. A single strand of red hair had slipped from her hairnet and hung unnoticed along the side of her face like a trail of blood. Eyeing his cup she asked, “More coffee?”
“Yes thanks.” he grinned, he wasn't hungry but he ate anyway, “So what's new with you?”
“Since last night?” she refilled his cup, and then gave him a handful of creams and sugars, “Not too much.”
“Still looking for a new apartment?”
“Yup.” her smile faded, “I'd have found one by now if not for Lucifer.”
“What about the place in Watervilet?” he took a bite of sausage. His mind was racing, was he really going to go for it?
She shook her head, “The place was a dump! There were mushrooms growing out of the bathroom ceiling... and not the fun kind either.”
He laughed gruffly, “Well, you could always...”
A pair of wired-looking truckers waved Angie over to their booth. She gave John a “Be back.” and approached the men. “Have you boys decided what you’d like?”
The trucker with a moustache nearly as thick as John’s gave his buddy a nudge, “Yeah but I bet it ain’t on the menu.”
“Oh brother.” Angie said with a roll of her eyes, “Here we go.”
John chewed in silence, his smile faltering.
“You got some beautiful red hair there.” the other, clean- trucker flashed her a grin that looked like a bad fence. “Ain’t her hair beautiful Ed?”
Ed nodded with agreement, “Red on the head, good in bed. Ain’t that what they say?”
John felt his hackles rising. Sounds and images flashed though his mind, the glint of flesh ripped from bone, and the soft hiss of an arterial spray.
“I think the both of you need to calm down.” Angie tapped her notepad with the tip of her pen, “Now what would you...”
The clean-shaven trucker interrupted her, “We got a Jacuzzi in our hotel room. One come by after work and try it out?”
“I don’t think- ”
“Actually,” Ed explained, “We don’t really have a Jacuzzi but if you want you can get into the bathtub and we’ll take turns blowing bubbles between your legs.”
Steadying himself with his cane John got up and headed for the men's room. Alone in the bathroom John splashed cold water in his face and studied his reflection. He was starting to look shabby, his silver locks spilled over his shoulders, his handlebar moustache was in danger of becoming a goatee. Phil had been right of course, he was smitten with the girl- hopelessly so. While he truly cared for Phil and Zara, this was an intensity of emotion that he'd only experienced before in his devotion to Victor Kovach. And who was he fooling? She could never see him as anything more than a friend, if she even saw him at that. For all he knew she just might be putting up with him because he was such and extravagant tipper.
Was it worth then toll it was taking on his self-control? He'd almost lost it back there, over those imbeciles! Even now he could still feel the Metastasis shrieking, trying to tear free of its prison.
One of the truckers, Ed, brushed past on his way to a urinal. John pretended to wash his hands, all the while he scrutinized the man in the bathroom mirror.
It would be so easy.
One swing of his cane was all it would take, he knew just the spot to aim for.
John dried his hands with a fistful of cheap paper towels and headed back out to his seat. It's now or never. He thought as he Angie came back.
“Everything okay sweetums?” she asked surveying his plate, “You've hardly touched your eggs.
“Everything's perfect as always.” he flashed her a grin, “I was just thinking, you need an apartment and I have a whole two-story house all to myself...”
“Uh-ah.” she waggled a finger at him, “You said you hate cats.”
“I do, but I'm sure that Lucifer and I would learn to get along.”
She sighed heavily, “That's a sweet offer Johnny but...”
“I wouldn't try anything funny, we'd just be roommates.”
“Oh, I know that.” she patted his wrist, “But after what I've just been through I really don't want another roommate. I’ve always lived with someone else. I just want to be on my own for a while.”
“I can understand that.” he nodded.
“Besides,” she gave him a wink before heading back to the kitchen, “a handsome bachelor like you probably needs his space.”
John nodded in agreement, smiling dumbly. He picked at his plate, but his appetite was gone.