Stranger, part 4

Joe woke up the next morning unsure what the day would bring. He might be out of money, but there was no reason he couldn’t run his restaurant a few more days. And besides, he didn’t know what else to do. Joe was a man of routine. But the day didn’t go according to his routine. His regulars came and went, but so did new people, and it seemed that every person who left was happier than the last. There seemed no pattern or explanation, the new people had little in common, but for every one that left two more entered. By the end of the day, he’d done more business than the entire previous week. He and his small staff were much too busy to reflect on the oddity of it, and by the end of the day he could do little more than close the shop and drop into a seat. He went home and slept, and the next day started much the same. Mere hours had passed before he was forced to close due to an empty kitchen.

He spent the rest of the day scrambling to pay bills and restock his kitchen. That evening he and his wife talked about their unexplainable fortune, and dreamt together of success.

The rest of the week went much the same, and it wasn’t until then that he learned that he had been mentioned glowingly by a local newspaper. Days and weeks went by likewise, with people spilling out of his tiny restaurant. Joe was nearly as overwhelmed by this level of success as he had been by his near failure, until one evening, after seeing the last of the staff out and starting to clean up, a man in an expensive suit knocked on the glass door over the closed sign.

Joe waved away at the man and yelled “Closed!” through the thin glass. The man simply knocked again. Irritated, Joe unlocked the door and set his foot behind it, just enough to allow him to talk through the opening. “We’re closed, you want something come back when we’re open.”

“You’re a busy man, and I’d prefer to have your attention. I’m here to talk business on behalf of William Pierce.”

Joe could hardly open the door and stammer welcomes fast or enthusiastically enough. William Pierce was well known as the younger brother of one of the richest and most influential men in the city, possibly the state. Joe stammered and tripped over his tongue as he offered the man a seat.


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