Introduction: Friend of the Devil
"Set out running but I take my time, a friend of the devil is a friend of mine” - The Grateful Dead
Most people that walk through the doors of a truck stop diner will eat there exactly once. A hundred thousand strangers will order their black coffees, eat their mediocre burgers, take their hurried pisses, and move on with their lives. Sarah had managed Mickey’s Diner for nearly 20 years, and one of the very few things she still enjoyed about her job was the anonymity. She was just the hand that served the food, the voice that explained the specials, the finger that pointed out the restrooms. She had no familiar faces to remember or befriend, no “usuals” to save a seat for every morning. No one cared who she was, and she never had to care who they were.
This was the main reason she took no special notice of the two rather rough looking bikers who sauntered in one morning. Their black Harleys glinted in the parking lot despite the pale sunlight of early spring. As they sat down at the front counter, Sarah gave them a once-over. They were young, a man and a woman, perhaps mid-twenties. The man had thick curly hair and a tall frame, which he leisurely propped up on the counter. He seemed tired yet cheerful, and would lean over occasionally to murmur to the woman in an amused tone. The woman would smirk, but never quite smile. She was a full head shorter than her companion, yet somehow more imposing. Her long brown hair framed expressive dark eyes, which periodically swept over the other patrons of the diner. Her fingers drummed steadily on the counter top. Sarah could tell both bikers were well-tattooed, even under the dusty leather jackets. In her experience, this was wholly unremarkable.
The man ordered chocolate chip waffles and the woman ordered a black coffee. As the old lady got the coffee, she noticed the sole other waitress, Lizzie, talking to a trucker in the corner booth. She frowned. Lizzie was always a bit difficult to work with. The young girl was pretty and liked to talk, and too often Sarah would have to interrupt her flirting to usher her back to work. In this instance, though, Lizzie seemed rather displeased with the conversation. She smiled strangely at the man, shaking her head at whatever he was saying. Sarah sighed. If he was refusing to pay, as the manager, she’d have to be the one to deal with it. The old woman set down the cup of coffee in front of the biker woman, and noticed her looking over to the corner booth as well.
“No breakfast today hon?”
The woman glanced up for a moment. “No, thank-you” she said, flashing a polite, if worn, expression.
“Alright, I’ll be back with those waffles.”
The old woman quickly made the food, and brought it back to the pair. She placed the waffles and a bottle of syrup in front of the curly-haired man, who eagerly tucked into his breakfast.
“Anything else I can get you guys?” she quickly offered. The man shook his head, shoveling waffle into his mouth. The long-haired woman, however, was still watching the exchange in the corner.
“Does she know him?” the biker asked, nodding towards Lizzie and the trucker. Sarah glanced over to see the young waitress still in tense conversation with the man, now looking very uncomfortable. The man seemed to smirk, gesturing towards her.
“Um, I’m not sure, I’ve never seen him before.”
The biker frowned. “Well, he’s been badgering her to go out to his truck with him for the last 10 minutes.”
Sarah glanced over again and saw Lizzie looking very angry now, putting distance between herself and the trucker. As she did so, the large man hauled himself out of the booth, grabbing the waitress’s wrist with one hand as she tried to back away. The other hand went to her backside. Before Sarah could react, the female biker had sprung out of her seat and strode over to the pair.
“Let go of her.” The words were a quiet, icy growl.
The trucker had to blink in surprise at the sight of the woman. She was tall for a female, but he had at least 150 pounds on her.
“What you fittin’ to do darlin’?” he drawled in a southern accent, maintaining his hold on Lizzie. “Gonna show me what those pretty hands can do?”
The biker stepped right up to the taller man, wearing an expression Sarah had only ever seen in the face offs before the boxing matches on late night TV.
“If you don’t back up, pig, I’m gonna lay you out on your ass” she spat. The man seemed a bit surprised, but slowly broke into a greasy smile.
“That actually sounds-” the man’s reply was cut off abruptly. The shorter woman, in the blink of an eye, had hooked her foot behind one of his and rammed her shoulder into his stomach. As his weight fell backwards, his legs were swept out from under him. The man let go of Lizzie in surprise, and as he fell, the biker descended upon him with fury.
She placed a knee on each of his biceps, effectively pinning him to the floor, and proceeded to pummel his face with forward blows from the heel of her hand. Within three seconds, the floor was covered in red, and the man was screaming half muffled profanities.
Sarah shook herself out of her shocked stupor and reached under the counter. Bringing up the shotgun she kept there for a protection, the old woman fired a warning shot at the front window, shattering the glass.
Everyone in the diner froze.
The biker looked up, chest heaving, hands red. Lizzie stood a few feet away, arms raised as if to shield herself. The trucker lay on the floor, face an ugly mash, softly whimpering. It was a ghastly sight. The curly-haired man, for his part, only seemed slightly perturbed. He stood a few feet away from his companion, arms folded across his chest.
“Dammit Jean,” he groaned. “You coulda just knocked him over.”
The woman did nothing but glare at him. Sarah had had enough.
“You two,” she huffed, gesturing to the bikers with her gun. “Get out. I don’t want to ever see you here again.”
“Yes ma’am” the curly-hair man quipped, tipping an imaginary hat towards the old lady. His companion slowly stood up, stepping over the body of the man she had battered. She cautiously approached a frightened Lizzie, who was gaping at her in amazement.
“Are you okay?” the biker asked in a soft voice. Lizzie opened and closed her mouth, unable to form words. After a few moments, she finally managed to nod in reply. The blood-covered biker gave her a small nod, but said nothing else. She strode towards the door, the curly-haired man right behind.
“I didn’t even get to finish my waffles,” he whined to his companion as they exited.
Sarah didn’t lower the shotgun until after they had mounted their motorcycles and ridden out of sight. She looked back at the mess of the diner, at the pool of blood.
“Welp,” she said to no one in particular. “I guess I’ll be calling 911.”
For the millionth time, Sarah thought about retiring.