Police Lunch

by Robert Haig

When I was assigned to the Third Precinct, one of my first stops was to a little diner located on Vernor. My partner introduced me to the owner, Louie. I was also informed that Louie showed police a little love.  Police love meaning a free or discounted meal. I was a little disturbed as Louie’s apron had about a months worth of grill splatter on it. It also appeared stiff and discolored. This was an old school diner and we were seated at the counter, just feet away from our host. Everything had that light coat of grease on it, which seemed to be covered by a light coat of dust. It gave the whole place that furry look. I decided I wasn’t really that hungry and decided to pass on ordering anything. This caused quite a commotion as my partner smacks me on the back stating, “You’re going to hurt Louie’s feelings.” Lou is now leaning over the counter. One foot on the opposite side of the counter, allowing me a good look at his right leg. A black shoe with a broken floppy sole. A once white sock with the elastic worn out,  is now a tan brown color. The shin is chalky white, lacking any hair and has a large purple bruise on it.  He is displaying a sly smile, revealing that he is missing every other tooth. Wedged in one of the gaps is a filter less cigarette. I’ll fix you my specialty he purrs. This is the rookie part at it’s best. You really just want to bolt out of the place, but know this will give you the scarlet letter in the Precinct. Best route is to man up and take your medicine. I try to avoid looking at Louie as his appearance grows creepier and creepier. He is very short and really works the comb over. The eight hairs he has retained are all about thirteen inches long, and cross over the top of his head in haphazard gaps. I shudder to think of Louie’s specialty and flash back to the brain tacos. (both restaurants were in the Third Precinct) I have to sneak a peek as he hovers over the grill. Perfect timing for me, as the long ash tip of his cigarette breaks loose. I look away, leaving it to chance that it didn’t land on my meal. Within minutes a plate is slid in front of me. I’m a bit dizzy as I look down. I find a perfect cheeseburger sitting in front of me. I lift the bun to check, unsure if that is black pepper or Viceroy ashes on my patty. Eat, Louie shouts. It smells wonderful and I take a large bite. It tastes as good as it looks. I find it loses flavor if I look at Louie or my surroundings and concentrate on the burger. We finish our lunch and Louie waits at the register for us. One dollar he tells me. I take out four dollars and hand it over. There is a brief argument and I tell him, I would just leave it on the counter if he didn’t take it. He winks as he stuffs the cash in a dirty pocket. I figured sometimes you just have to pay extra for that type of high class atmosphere.

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