From inside the Holiday Grille they see Mac coming. They recognize him, not from having ever seen him before, but from confidence in knowing his type at a single glance. Borderline something or another. There's something about the bluejean jacket and dark striped dress slacks that implies the worst possible miscalculation. His hair is thick and void of precise color--almost black, uncombable.
He comes through the double wood doors after some difficulty with the opposite-angled swings. Smiling hello to a somber business suit he advances to a stool, leaving one space between. The counter waitress halts her conversation with the businessman and straightens up, not pleased.
The businessman arches his eyebrow at the waitress: the intruder's proximity. It's the same uneasy sense in a public restroom when someone takes the next urinal and acknowledges you.
Mac. Or Mack, if you prefer; he's not particular. Mac Arthur--some joke of his mother's that he's never quite grasped.
"Hey. How y'all doing tonight."
The waitress wipes the counter down away from the two men, looking down. "Hi."
"How about some coffee. Bet you got some of that around here, huh?"
The businessman watches Mac being amused by his own joke. The waitress wipes. Picks up a salt shaker. Puts it down. Looks off through the large plate glass windows opposite the counter. There's a motel there. The businessman turns his cup in the saucer, cold. After a space of contemplation, the waitress goes down to the coffee pot, lifts it and looks. Then she pours a cup and brings it to Mac.
The only other occupants of the grille are a retired couple in a booth at the far end by the door, finished eating and now managing to lounge with great reactionary fervor. For having to pay for food they will get their money's worth in seat wear.
The waitress answers the ring: a female friend. Assertive murmurs. The kind of blond that aggressively seeks others of the same acquired-neon-yellow shade. Abruptly she surrenders the call. She looks at the businessman and wipes the counter down again. Facing away from him she moves without progressing in any definite manner.
Mac watches them, back and forth.
The businessman's eyes have become a little frantic, not so much at Mac but the effect Mac has on the waitress, her shying away. He takes a good look at this neighbor, and his irritation layers into a kind of mild dissatisfaction as Mac begins to speak.
"Tell you what. I bet they've got some pie in here. Don't you? This is the kind of place they have pie." The joke again. His face engages the businessman, maniacally friendly.
"Pie," the businessman says. "It seems a distinct possibility."
"Yes sir. That it is. How about you ma'am? Don't you agree?"
The waitress is looking through the plate glass windows across from the counter, at the motel. She seems to hear sounds. "Pie." Monosyllabic. As though a question. "It's not no good. I wouldn't advise you. If you know what I mean."
Mac, thrown. Everything is kind of dead now. The businessman quite adeptly avoids Mac's face.
"Know what? Some guys took a shot at me. Can you believe that. Just sitting there in my Fury. Bang. I mean, it was really like Bang bang. Bang." Mac's lips percussive for effect.
"This," the businessman says, "is now that kind of world." Swirling his coffee cup.
"Didn't get me though. I mean, I moved. And I moved fast, let me tell you." Pause for effect: no effect observed. "My windows were open. It's not going to cost me any money."
The businessman whistles--a tune that makes the waitress notice. She laughs. The businessman cocks a finger at her, drops his thumb. Bang. Then he points through the window at the motel. Bang. She laughs.
"And you know what. I don't think they even knew me. They just acted like they did. I bet they had never seen me before in their lives. They were black guys. But I didn't know them."
The businessman's eyes on Mac like lightning, offended. He's black. He gets up and moves down the counter closer to where the waitress has drifted.
"Hey. I didn't mean nothing." Mac looks to the waitress; she's even more icy than before--that look of seeing everything but him.
The businessman taps his coffee cup. He stands up and walks to the rest room. The waitress finally slides Mac a slice of lemon icebox and becomes inordinately preoccupied with wiping salt shakers.
He's going to ask her something, he's not sure what, whenever she comes his way again. As the businessman turns the corner of the counter she is in the highly visible act of refilling his cup. The businessman, sitting down again, eyes Mac once. Still here. Mac finishes the pie in three forkings and pours more sugar into his coffee.
In the far booth the old woman complains clearly about the oily film on the window overlooking Louisville traffic. The old man squints, nods, clearly dismayed. An unseen cook revels in the cacophony of a dropped pan.
The businessman succeeds in directing the glance of the waitress through the window again. In duplicitous exchange he manages to point out a particular room in the motel. "Yeah, sure," she wipes. This goes on.
When Mac absently edges his saucer back she brings the check pronto. He fumbles with his coffee, finally finishing the last mouthful, spinning quarters to bounce off the saucer. On the walk to the register he tries to peek into the mysterious kitchen.
The waitress's move to meet him at the register is her quickest of the night. Mac feigns searching for dollar bills in the crumpled wads he pulls from his pockets. In the act of straightening them he asks, "Hey, what kind of perfume is that you got on? I might buy some for my sister---"
She manages to roll her eyes without moving her face at all. With a glance toward the businessman she surrenders the change and begins to wipe down the counter. "K-Mart," she says, a hoarse laughter. "Lord. That's all I know."