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The Inheratence
By
aidan

The Inheratence

Tags: new, town

Day of discovery

The Inheritance

Alice Parker sat in the diner drinking a morning coffee that had just been poured by the departing waitress. She sat by the window that read Tommie’s Diner, she was peeking through the letter O as he walked by. He was tall and had broad shoulders. The man was in a suit that needed mending, a good cleaning, then given to The Good Will. He was carrying a guitar case in his right hand, he slowed his pace, turned and walked back. He ran his fingers through his hair a few times as he went over the menu that hung on the door of the diner. She looked him over again, he had been in a fight by the looks of him. His lower lip and cheek were swollen and his right eye was half closed. But he was still good looking just the same. Alice smiled to herself, took another sip of her coffee. Her judgement had just been placed. He - whoever he was, was most definitely a bit of bad news and she took out her book.

She looked down the street at the cars that were passing by Tommie's wondering when she would be able to afford another car, or at least get her car repaired and not be forced to take the transit back and forth from work every day, she had missed that freedom. The freedom she thought was an interesting word. Freedom cost money a lot of money.

She looked up as she began to turn a page, he was still there. He was still going over the menu. She smiled to herself thinking what her father might have said right now if he was still alive.

“If you have to ask the price, then you can't afford it, It's just that simple.”

He pulled out and old wallet, as he did its contents of bank cards, pictures, and receipts spilled out onto the sidewalk. He bent slowly down placed one knee on the sidewalk, he placed the guitar case down and began gathering up his paraphernalia. He looked around checking to see if anyone had just witnessed this embarrassment. Alice's smile left her face and felt guilty of the prejudgement she had placed on him a few moments before. No one stopped to help, they just looked at him as they passed, one man walked over a picture that he was about to reach for just missing his fingers. She saw that the stranger said something to the to the man, because he turned but never stopped he just kept walking.

The drifter wearily rose to his feet, looked at the paper scraps briefly then wadded the cards back into his wallet, returning it to his hip pocket. He reached in a front pocket pulled out a handful of change and began counting his money. She saw he had one bill held by his thumb and finger. He began counting it, sorting it out his with the index finger of his free hand. Looked back up at the menu placed the change back into his pocket, picked up the case and entered the diner.

As he came through the door, she tried to be discreet. Taking the book that she had brought to read and pretended to begin to read taking calculating peeks, took another sip of her coffee as he approached the counter her head went down and began reading. The regulars took turns sizing the stranger up then went back to their meals and conversations. One of the patron’s sitting on the round bar stool at the diner's lunch counter lifted up his coffee cup up. “Brad more coffee when you get a minute, please.” He asked. Brad nodded. Brad watched as the man with the case came in. His guitar case all but missed a few heads as the man walked between the bar and the side tables. He decided he did not want him there, so he chose to ignore him.

The man just stood there patiently. Brad grabbed the coffee pot off one of the burners topped up the customers coffee that were in the middle of their meals, placed it back on the burners walked by the stranger again. Finally, the stranger raised his hand to get his attention speaking up as Brad passed him a third then a fourth time.

“Excuse me, sir.” The stranger said.

Brad didn't stop walked to the other end of the counter and rang in one of the orders handing the change back to his customer thanking him and wishing him a pleasant morning.

“Excuse me, sir.” He raised his voice again. “Excuse me!”

“May I have a coffee and an order of toast?”

Brad stopped in front of him looked him over. Brad nodded “Yeah, you could, but there’s no place for you to sit right now. So why don't you come back after the morning rush is over? It will give you time to go home and clean up a bit, take a shower or something, what do ya think.” Brad said.

The stranger said nothing he bowed his head down on his chest, closed his eyes.

“Could I have a coffee to go then sir, please.” He asked.

Brad grinned, “Yeah, great idea, I can get you a coffee to go, on the house too.” He added.

“I'll pay for it, I have money. Cream and sugar, thank you.” He glared at Brad. Brad glared back then left for the coffee to go.

The stranger turned leaned the guitar case on its end and holding it steady waiting for his coffee. He looked out the window and saw that it had started to rain, he closed his good eye, shook his head slowly. When he opened it again, he was looking into Alice's eyes.

Alice's blue eyes were looking up at him. She was a little nervous, but more was ashamed at the way Brad had just treated him.

“I have plenty of room, you're more than welcome to sit with me if you would like that is?” Alice said smiling.

The stranger looked at her, then over the counter at Brad that was making up his coffee to go.

“That's very kind of you miss and I mean it, It's just I don't need any more trouble today if that's all right with you. I'll get my coffee and be on my way. But thank you again.” He tried to smile. Alice could tell even talking was painful for him.

“No.” She shook her head. “I think I must insist that you sit here.”

She pointed to the seat on the other side of the table she was sitting at.

“As far as Brad goes, he only works here, he's not the owner just a complete ass, everyone knows that. Please join me.” Alice smiled up at him, putting her book down moving her coat and purse from the seat across from her and tucked it beside where she was sitting. The stranger looked over at Brad and thought, Why the hell not.

As he sat down, Brad had his coffee to go in his hand and brought it over to Alice's table. Brad looked over at her and then over at the stranger. He placed the coffee down.

“Your coffee to go sir.” Brad said. The word, go was accentuated.

The stranger looked up at Brad then over at Alice and began to get up. Alice placed her hand on her invited guest's arm restraining him, looked up at Brad.

“Brad, Mr Smith will be joining me, and I would like an order of eggs, bacon, a glass of orange juice.”

Brad began to talk again. “Listen, I thought we had a bit of an agreement here and now...”

“Oh Brad, the eggs are over easy.”

Make it, she looked over at the breakfast special posted over the counter. looked over at her guest sizing up what she thought he could eat then continued with the order.

“Yes, Brown toast, and deep fried home fries.” Alice said.

Brad ignored her order and began to talk again.

Alice tapped Brad on his arm interrupting him again.

“Be a dear and top up my coffee when you get a moment, that's about all thank you, Brad,” Alice said.

She turned to her guest ignoring Brad altogether. Brad smirked looked at Alice and at the his new patron gave them both a Shit-eating grin, nodded at Alice.

“Yeah, Okay.” Brad said nodding his head slowly. “Breakfast it is, then buddy you best on your way.”

Brad let out long seething breath, his nostrils flaring as he walked back behind the counter wrote up an order ticket, slapped it down on the on the order window.

“Order up!” Brad said a bit too loud, the diners looked over at Brad as he gave Alice's order to the cook, turned grabbed the coffee pot and began pouring coffee to a waiting customer.

Alice took a nervous sip of her coffee and wondered if what she had just done was wise. She had no idea who this man was sitting in front of her, or where he came from maybe just maybe Brad had sized him up right from the moment he had walked through the door.

Avoiding conversation, Alice’s guest stared at the table's paper place mat looking at the ads that had been placed by local businesses, little embarrassed at being saved from Brad by Alice. He looked up after a pregnant pause.

“Thank you.” he began. “but I was fine with the coffee to go. I'm not really big on breakfast's but I do appreciate the kindness, then smiled a swollen lipped smile that did nothing for Alice except to heighten her fear. He put his hand out to her to shake hands.

“Shawn Cox, or Shawn Cox Smith I suppose now” He smiled again Alice took his hand and returned the smile feeling a little less tense.

“Alice Parker.” She said, “it's nice to meet you.”

“So tell me, do you do this often Miss Parker?” Shawn asked.

Alice looked up at him with a questioning look.

He continued “I mean, invite strangers to join you for breakfast looking like they just came from a street fight as your guest, order for them while putting the manager in his place all at the same time?” Shawn said.

Alice fears were gone. There was a kindness to him. An unfortunate that needed a friend, and she was glad on this morning, on this day it was to be her.

“Oh not really, I'm just sucker for black and blue eyes, I think you lost that fight though.” Alice smiled at him

Shawn smiled, undid the lid of his coffee to go, took a sip his eyes squinted at its flavour .

“Something wrong Mr. Cox with your coffee” Alice asked.

“A little less cream and a lot less sugar would have been nice.” Shawn said.

He wanted to spit the syrup he just drank back in the cup but thought better of it. His face grimaced as he pushed it down, his eyes gave away his displeasure of its taste but shook his head no. “It will be fine thank you.” He said.

“No problem I'll have the coffee you ordered brought over.” She said.

Before he could protest the waitress stopped by to refill Alice's cup.

“Sandra Mr. Cox's coffee isn't what he ordered. Could you bring another for him, please.”

Shawn shook his head. “No thanks, its fine really.” he said. But he was interrupted.

Sandra smiled enjoying his embarrassment and shook her head. “Nope, sorry, if Alice says it's not good then it's just not good.” She said.

“Thank you, Sandra,” Alice said. Sandra looked over at Brad, who hadn't gotten over Mr. Cox being waited on to make matters worse, he had taken the order.

“No problem Hun, not really sure what crawled up his butt this morning but I'm sure whatever poor creature did is regretting it now, it's probably suffering like the rest of us. He's been a real jerk this morning, none of us has done anything right. I'll be right back with your coffee Mr Cox,” she said and walked away.

Alice and Shawn eyes meet, either of them unable to start a conversation, both caught up in an uncomfortable situation, both letting the pause grow in and still either knew what to say or how to begin a conversation. But after they couldn't handle the silence any longer they both said “So.” At the same time.

Alice forced a smile at her invited guest.“Go ahead.” She said. Shawn grinned back as well. Alice wished he wouldn't do that anymore, his smile was creeping her out, the way the swollen parts of the left side of his cheek made him look. It made him look like he was morphing into an alien or something subhuman.

He rubbed his jaw with the back of his hand as if trying to tuck his swollen lip back in.

“That looks painful.” She said. Unable to let on his beating never had happened “Want to tell me about it.” She asked.

Shawn picked up the chrome napkin dispenser. As he looked though its chrome surface he touched parts of his face sucked on the inside of his mouth ran his tongue over the side of that part of his lip. He touched his eye felt it and squinted when he had pressed to hard. As he set the dispenser back down he nodded.

“Yeah hurts like hell.” He said. “But I still got all my teeth.”

Shawn didn't smile this time which was a relief to Alice, and she was wondering now if she would be able to eat, she was losing her apatite.

“I Should wash up I suppose.” Shawn said. Excused himself from the table and walked to the back of the dinner toward the washrooms. His movements he was sure was not going undetected by his buddy Brad.

Shawn entered the small washroom. It was very clean, floor and the sink was spotless. It was nice to see for a change - it made Shawn feel a little less vulnerable somehow. He removed his suit coat hung it on the hook on the door. He turned and looked at himself in the mirror. Opened and closed his mouth which was stiff from the swelling. His eye all but closed and red filled area where the white of his eye used to be. He took a paper towel whetted it and rubbed down the arms of his suit coat, did the same to his trousers and wiped the mud from his shoes. He washed his face and letting the cold water revive him. Pulled out his comb combed his hair in place.

Pulling his suit coat on his thoughts Miss Parker. Not many would have taken up for the likes of me. He smiled in the mirror his smile did little to enhance his looks, so he cancelled the smile. Opened the door and returned to his waiting host. His coffee had arrived in his absence.

“So Miss Parker. “He asked.” As he sat down. “What do you do for work or do you work?”

“Yes I work, it's only part time at the School. I'm a teachers aid. I do have my licence, but full-time jobs at our school are hard to get. I may have a full-time position next year if I'm lucky.” Alice said.

“What do you teach or do at the school.” Shawn asked. Wanting to keep the conversion going.

“Well.” Alice began. “I would like to teach history, I love history, but for now I am with the special needs children and help out with the children that find reading and writing harder than the other children, some come from very poor homes.”

She blushed after she had said that not knowing Mr. Cox position in life. So she kept going. “Don't get me wrong, I'm not a snob I do enjoy it and it has its rewards.

“Just not what you would really like to do though.” Shawn aided. Alice nodded and took another sip of coffee.

Their breakfast came. Shawn's plate was full of home fries, eggs over-easy and toast that fought for room on his large plate. Alice's plate had one hard boiled egg in an egg cup and one slice of toast, with orange juice.

Shawn looked up at Sandra.“You can't be serious, is this a normal portion here?”

Sandra nodded yes, “It's our normal breakfast, I can have more home fries added if you like?” She asked.

Shawn looked at the plate then at Alice. “It's just so much food here, it could easily feed 3 people.” Shawn said.

Sandra smiled at him. “Well your at Tommie’s Diner, and this is our normal breakfast. She slapped him on the back, now you eat up what you don't eat I can bag for you. I'll top up your coffee's in just a sec.” Sandra said. She left with Shawn not knowing where to start.

Alice looked at Shawn and giggled “I'm sorry when I ordered, I just wanted Brad to leave you alone. I knew after I ordered it it might be a bit much. But eat what you can, you do look hungry.” Alice said.

Shawn began with his eggs then a bit of bacon. He could hardly chew it, his jaw was sore, but it did taste good. Alice cracked the top of her egg and laid the top to the side. She dipped her toast in the 3 minute egg took a bit, watching her guest enjoying his.

“So Mr. Cox.” Alice began.

“Shawn please.” He said.

“Okay, Shawn, what brings you to our town? I haven't seen you before. You don't have to answer if you don't want to, I'm being nosey I know, but guess I'm just curious.”

Shawn continued his breakfast he was eating a little faster now, his jaw was getting a little more movement, and found himself hungrier than he first thought, he was enjoying the meal.

“Well, I'm here to see a lawyer about my uncle's estate. He passed away last month. I'm the only living relative he had and they contacted me last week.” Shawn said.

“Sorry to hear that, did you know him well.” Alice asked.

Shawn shook his head, took another bite of bacon that he had picked up from his plate.

“Never met him, my mother's half-brother, or something like that. I don't think they ever got along because I have never heard of him until his lawyer called me.” Shawn said.

“Maybe I know him, what was his name?” Alice asked.

“You might.” Shawn said. his name was “Benjamin Styles.” Shawn replied.

She tried not to show her surprise to be sitting across from a relative of Benjamin Styles.

“You knew or have heard of him I take it?” Shawn said.

Alice didn't want to get into what she knew or had heard about his Uncle.

She simply said, “Oh, everybody in town knows of Mr. Styles.

“Good things I hope?” Shawn asked again and stopped eating.

“Well lets just say, everyone in the area knows about Benjamin Styles and leave it at that.” Alice said.

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