At midnight I heard bacon sizzling in the abandoned restaurant along the boardwalk. Each evening the heavy smells woke me in my apartment above the beach. Following my nose, I stepped carefully down the stairs.
The restaurant had closed a week ago and the chairs were like crouching dwarves under the shadowed tables. The woman was behind the bar working at the griddle, hair flopping at the shoulders of her nightgown, her eyes cast downward, even as she turned to me.
“Richard, darling. How do you like your eggs?”
I didn’t know who Richard was. I stepped up to the bar.
“Are you ready?” the woman said.
A groan to my left startled me. I flung my eyes into the darkness. A derelict slumped in the corner, the moonlight reflecting on his greasy face, his drug-filled eyes shining with a knowing calm. My heart began to beat in my ears.
The woman flipped the bacon on the griddle with a dusty spatula. Her shuffling movements made me think she was sleepwalking, drawn to the restaurant from one of the summer homes along the shore.
The woman placed a bag of something on the counter, a substance that shimmered in the dank lighting.
“Once you’ve seen it,” she mumbled, “once you’ve finished your breakfast…”
“I’m not who you think I am,” I tried feebly.
“Then what are you?”
I didn’t have an answer.
I was startled by a loud noise, the door slamming shut behind me.
I turned to the woman, her face devoid of expression, and suddenly I knew what this woman wanted from me and my heart began to beat faster and faster.