Claustrophobia

The diner held a strong, hazy scent of Old Spice and cheap hotel soap mixed with the lingering aroma of freshly burnt toast. It was the typical sort of joint with the typical pink vinyl booths, large sunny windows that looked out onto the traffic outside, and an overhead ceiling fan that lazily grazed through the muggy air.

It was just another typical diner, on any typical sort of weekday...or so one would think. For on this particular day, Neil Irving was occupying the very last booth in section A, a window seat where the seating placement made it possible to see the entire diner.

It was past breakfast, and somewhere in that space between lunch and dinner where the diner wasn't quite empty, and not quite full of patrons. Neil started to feel the eminent trickle of sweat on the back of his neck. The thick fog of heat permeated through his thick brown tweed suit and encased him in a throbbing, heated trap. He ran his hand nervously over his brown hair, pulling it back to keep it from escaping into his eyes.

The menu felt cool in his hands, as his eyes flashed over his choices. He could never really decide what he wanted to eat when he went out, and when the time came to place his order, he usually mumbled off a quick order which was never what he really wanted, but something he ate anyway. He wasn't much of a complainer either.

He watched the waitress of his section with amused fascination. Her shocking blonde hair had been teased and sprayed up into a high bouffant and was decorated with pink ribbons, almost like a Christmas tree. She slathered on a thick application of bright red lipstick, and smoothed out the wrinkles on the front of her pink uniform before grabbing a pencil and sticking it behind her ear.

Neil returned his attention back to the menu, still undecisive, as the waitress approached the table.

"What can I get you, sweetheart?" She said in a repulsively sugared tone. Neil hesitated. Still not ready, but more than desperate to get the waitress to go away. She sensed his urgency and undesive manner quickly, and tapped her finger on the menu.

"This one's good. It's the special today. Turkey sandwich with gravy, and peas and mash."

"Sure, sounds swell," Neil said, quickly surrendering the menu to her. She scribbled down the order quickly. Neil averted his eyes.

"Coffee too, sweetheart?" She chirped.

"Yeah, coffee. Sure," Neil said, averting his gaze to his lap. He had forgotten about coffee and how tempting it sounded even in the dreadful heat of the day.

He quickly scanned the room, he noticed that the telephone had been freed up and he quickly straightened his brown tie before getting up. He searched around his coat pockets for some spare changed and extracted a dime, which he placed in the slot.

Neil dialed the number slowly, and waited.

"Yeah, what is it?" The other line growled.

"Sal, it's me, Neil. Listen, I'm in town..."

The End

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