New Flesh on Old Bones

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The Reincarnation of Jean Harlow

“Yeah, maybe I have,” said Colton. Suddenly, a look registered in the goon’s eyes, and at that moment, Colton knew Toomey recognized him, and he braced himself for a confrontation.

Like a deadly predator ready to strike, Toomey was on his feet and blocked the narrow aisle. The restaurant chatter came to a grinding halt. All eyes were upon the two men and the air quickly thickened with the anticipation of a brawl.

Toomey was a head taller than Colton and outweighed him by thirty pounds, but most of it was gut. Colton remained cool on the outside, but inside his muscles were winding up tight, ready for a fight. “Maybe you want to step aside.”

“I can’t believe you have the balls to come back here.” Cords of muscles popped in his forearms like taut ropes as he wadded his thick fingers on both hands into tight fists.

Colton was certain the meaty weapons, fueled by anger, could deliver bone-crushing blows. He needed to keep a safe distance. Judging by the length of Toomey’s arms, he was about a foot out of striking distance. That meant that Toomey would have to take a step forward if he intended on landing a blow. Colton kept the provoker’s grease-spattered work boots in his field of vision.

Toomey pointed a finger at Colton and addressed the customers. “Y’all remember this murderer, don’t ya’?”

All eyes fixed on Colton. Their stares felt like a heavy coat.

“He’s Colton Bishop.”

The restaurant goers percolated with interest.

A Kid Rock look alike stood up, gave Colton the once over. He narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, I remember that sumbitch.”

Suddenly, the door adjacent to the end of the steam table swung open and a young woman with platinum-blonde hair stepped out of the kitchen door holding a pot of coffee in one hand and a menu in the other. She hurried over to Colton. “Don’t be harassing my customer, Toomey.”

Toomey shifted his eyes from Colton to the petite blonde. “Why are you takin’ up for this killer?”

“He doesn’t look like a killer to me,” she replied as she looked Colton over. Then she planted the hand holding the menu against Toomey’s chest. “Now sit down and behave yourself before I call the sheriff.” She gave him a shove. Caught off guard, and with a look of surprise on his face, the unbalanced Toomey plopped down on his stool. He scowled. She turned to Colton. “Follow me.” The blonde escorted him through a cloud of cigarette smoke.

She led him to the empty table. After he sat down, she raked a few rogue strands of blonde hair away from her blue eyes.

He thought she looked like a reincarnated Jean Harlow or maybe a modernized version of the film actress. She certainly carried the film stars physical attributes: Five one in height, slim build, she even shared similar facial features. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like―”

“Yes. But most of them are older guys.” She lifted the glass pot. “Coffee?”

He nodded. “Yeah, that would be nice.”

With long, slender fingers tipped with red lacquered nails, she turned the ceramic cup over and poured. “I saw you ride in. I like your Sportster."

He broke out into a grin. “Thanks.”

“A classic?”

“Yep.”

She plopped the menu down and stuck out her hand. “Georgia.”

He took her hand in his. “Colton.”

She approved with a smile.

The curve and fullness of her lips attracted him, but it was the virtue reflected in her eyes that captivated him.

She slowly let her hand slip out of his. “So, what’ll you have, Darlin’?”

He knew that most places like this always had a breakfast special served twenty-four hours a day, and that’s what he requested.

Without writing it down, she asked, “How would you like your eggs?”

“Over easy.”

“Sausage or bacon?”

“Bacon.”

“Grits or hash browns?”

It had been a long time since he had eaten grits. “I’ll take the grits.”

“Toast or biscuit?”

“Biscuit.”

“Anything else?” she asked.

He felt the stare on the back of his neck and looked back over his shoulder and saw Toomey, eyes locked, glaring. He twisted back around. “Yeah, make it to go.”

She grabbed the menu off the table and was gone.

Colton finished his coffee under the watchful eyes of the murmuring patrons. As he finished his last sip, Georgia returned with a white, Styrofoam box and plopped it down in front of him.

He took a ten from his wallet and dropped on the table. When Colton opened the box to inspect the contents he discovered a napkin strategically place on top of the eggs with her name and a phone number.

“In case you want to take me for a ride.” She gave him a smile and a wink. Executing a well-practiced spin that sent the hem of her skirt flaring out giving him an alluring glimpse of shapely legs, she strutted away.

Holding the box in one hand, he headed for the door.

Toomey’s eyes were on him, and when Colton was a few feet away, Toomey stuck his foot out to obstruct his path. “You better hightail it outta here cause next time I run into you...” He grinned. “Let’s just say that it ain’t gonna be pretty.” He drew his leg back.

Colton hurried out the door. A siren screamed in the distance but was getting louder. He jumped on his bike, cranked it, and the engine roared to life.

Toomey rushed out the diner’s door.

A second later, the rear tire spewed dust and shell. As he raced out of the parking lot, he saw faces gaping at him through the windows. Out on Grigsby, the rubber grabbed pavement, squalled, and left behind a long, black streak.

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