Ray comes in the diner alone. He eats alone, too. People drop by
looking for him—some even brave enough to interrupt his meal—but he
shows up by himself and leaves the same way.
Everything about Ray is trim. He dresses like a businessman on Casual
Friday. He’s always clean-shaven, hair and fingernails clipped. When
he does smoke, which is rarely, it’s long, thin, filtered cigarettes.
Ray listens hard and talks in a whisper.
The word is he’s done time, but when you ask what for, the conversation stops.
He eats at a table-for-two by the wall. No one comes in after him
tonight. When he’s done, he peels a few bills off a roll from his
pocket, then nods to Vy at the register and leaves.
Danny and Phil, a pair of neighborhood shakes, eat at the counter next
to me. This whole time, they’ve been chewing, red eyes on their
fries, hardly ever breathing. Once the door bangs shut, Danny peeks
over his shoulder.
“I’m only afraid of two people in this world,” he says. “God and Ray.”
“I don’t think God’s a person,” Phil says.
Danny looks back again and says, “I’m not sure Ray is, either.”