by William T. Vandemark
The town diner gleamed in the twilight. Above the entrance, a neon WELCOME
sign pulsed on and off, the hum and buzz staccato.
Lenny stood mesmerized. "Bees and fireflies," he whispered. In the chill October
air, his breath wafted like a ghost. A moment later, a gust of wind snatched it away.
With a shrug, Lenny repositioned his backpack and surveyed the town's
crossroads. Neither headlights nor tail lights shimmered in the distance; neither
gods nor demons tolled the ways. In solitude, he decided to stop. A cup of coffee
and a bite to eat sounded good, company even better.
He strode to the diner's entrance, and paused beneath an awning. At the glass door,
he used his reflection to fix his hair and adjust his collar. He rolled up his frayed
shirt cuffs, plucked nettles from his jeans, and realized he had no socks. He
wiggled his big toe, teasing a hole in his canvas sneakers. None the worry, he
decided. Feet need to breathe.
He reached for the doorknob and stopped.
His cheek twitched, his eye winked, he coughed a guttural bark, the sound capped
with pips and a squeak. A carrion stench filled his nose, and hairs rose on the nape
of his neck.
An hour of company, Lenny silently pleaded. Was it too much to ask?
Pain pierced his right side and in spasm he bit the inside of his cheek.
At the taste of blood, he reached into his pocket and sorted through coins. By
touch, he found the one he wanted. It was ancient, large as a silver dollar, but
colder, heavier, and had a jagged hole in its center. He circled his finger around its
edge until his fingertip went numb, then he touched the wound inside his mouth.
After a three count, he withdrew his finger and spat into his hand. His spit ran
He wiped his mouth, tucked in his shirt, and entered the diner. "Greetings good
people," he said. "Beautiful night, beautiful sight, I'm Lenny, The Amazing Lenny.
And it all changes now."