Julian materialized just outside Eats on the sidewalk in front of the big picture window. Silently congratulating himself once again on successfully traversing the folds in space-time, Julian peered in the window and was gladdened to see a number of his friends were already on hand, sitting at the counter drinking coffee. It was winter, Julian noticed, and he made a mental note as he walked through the wheezing turnstile door to adjust his calculations. He'd meant to arrive six months earlier.
Roy Bent was holding court as Julian slid onto the empty stool next to him.
"Damn idiot Crass Corner Careerist did it again. Whitehead makes a complete fool of himself every time he opens his mouth."
"Vell Julian, gut to zee you. Vant some coffee?"
"Thanks Bertha. Black and strong."
The powerfully-built Bertha hustled away to get his coffee. Roy turned and slapped Julian on the back. "How'd the search go," he asked.
"Not so good. Thanks Bertha. Cigarette? Thanks. It moved again."
"Damn lake," Roy said. "When ya gonna fucking give up looking for that moving body of water?"
"Can't. It's in my blood. So what has Orville been up to again?"
Across from Julian sat Otis Stinmeyer. Stinnie is a good guy. Very large, very odorous, very single, and with an opinion about everything, especially Orville Whitehead.
"Julian, that damn sucka went an sent out a press thing attacking Kwanzaa. Fer chrissakes."
"Here Julian," Roy said. "Here's his press release in the paper. He says that and I quote, 'They don’t like America and seek to destroy it by pretending that its values as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, don’t apply to everyone.'"
"Who are they?"
"Ya know," Otis said pointing at Julian, "White guys like you who got no beef with blacks."
Roy said, "Fuck he ain't even got any black friends. I always love it when these white guys start talking about black culture like they know the fuck what they're talking about."
"He's got one," Otis said.
"Who?" Roy asked.
"A black friend. Harrison James. You know, that no account smartass who always asks if you understand after each sentence like yer stupid or somethin. He hugged the shit outta Orville last year. Shoulda seen the look on Orville's face, all scared an shit."
"It was fucking hilarious," Roy said. "I thought Orville was gonna shit in his pants."
"Heh. I try to shove Kwanzaa down people’s throats in an effort to divide them, but I thought I was the only one."
"Good one, Julian. Orville is so fucking white I bet he got a halo round his head. He should get a flat tire around midnight in the Kwanzaa part of town, if you get my drift."
Bertha filled Roy's cup. "Roy! Let's not be hopin he gets hurt."
"Nah. Bet you could mother him into being nicer."
Bertha was a former East German world-class wrestler before steroids were made illegal. She has always said she reserved the right to mother a guest into a submission hold.
“Vell. He does need a mutti I tink.”
Next: You never know at Eats.
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