Chapter 3

Knick stood looking up, Bud’s Restaurant Since 1939. For a moment time moved through his eyes as he remembered the sign and the fragrant smell of sweetness from his youth. So much has changed, Bud is gone, generations have moved forward and someone else is now minding the business. He entered and spotted Bud’s famous quote “An apron is just a cape on backwards” posted as a reminder to all real men that a pie baking superman can act in many different roles. The fine aroma of fresh pastry lingered all around contrasting the heaviness of an aged establishment. He spied the booth on the end, vacant and beckoning . He hung his enfield woolen outter coat on the rack and slid into the booth so he had a view of the entrance. He could smell the aged wool combined with the interior of Bud’s which reminded him of his grandfather, Dusty, now gone but always remembered for his love of pie. It was getting later so the crowd was thin and quiet. The young lady working the counter and cleaning glanced over and said, “what can I get ya?

“Coffee and a nice slice of cherry ” Knick grinned. Bud’s cherry pie had always been his favorite as well as Ossie’s and Dusty’s. He thought to himself ‘this one’s for you pops”. As he was waiting, he noticed a young boy dawdling slowly behind a young woman, possibly his mother, heading to the exit. He was dragging his arm down the counter dodging the stools anchored to the floor seemingly bored as though he was playing a game. Knick noticed the lad’s clothes were old and faded, shared through concerned neighbors perhaps or passed down from an older sibling. His sneakers were torn on the edge from years of play and mischief. Knick remembered his own well worn Keds from the day. How they literally had to be unwearable before he would part with them.

He spotted something about this youngling’s behavior which piqued his interest. The lad was looking intently toward the end of the counter where a dollar bill sat next to an empty plate. The waitress who had paused her work to get Knick’s pie was in the back. As the lad slowly strolled and lagged, he was now glancing about reading any eyes upon him riveted by the unguarded treasure that lay before him. Knick in an instant read the intent and he watched undaunted with an unbending focus tapping his finger in an almost silent rhythm. The not so innocent tadpole glanced back one last time and locked eyes with the stranger at the far end of Bud’s place. Knick stared deeply into the wide brown eyes and suspended the moment in time. The young thief stood poised as a statue as Knick’s essence flowed within inches of his face. His smaller fingers hovered over the greenback motionless. Knick’s phantasm whispered “don’t!” and in a split second the youth dropped his ploy as he brushed his fingers across the dollar and stared in disbelief into the deep void of the strange man’s eyes. He sped ahead to catch the opening and disappeared into the darkness as the door quietly closed. Immediately the door reopened and in stepped Officer Rori Whitlock looking over his shoulder intently, dressed for work and ready to begin his shift. Knick watched as Rori strode commandingly toward the booth they would share.

“What’ll it be Whitlock?” The waitress asked as she was converging with Knick’s pie and a fresh pot of coffee. “Any more of that coconut cream Jenny?” “Coming right up, you want a cup too?” “Please,” smiled Rori.

Knick was pouring cream into his coffee and without looking up said, “Rori Whitlock cop of Defiance. How long has this been going on?” in the tone of a pleasantly surprised long out of touch friend.

“Going on a decade, since I left the service.” The two rangers grinned at each other as Jenny set a cup and the pie before Rori. “You two set?” Jenny injected. “Set point and matched” Knick retorted.

Then there was a pause and silence. They both shared the moment looking each other over. They were like brothers from different mothers. Rori’s blue eyes probing and Knick’s green eyes reflective, Rori’s brown skin glistening and Knick’s tan skin absorbing. For a moment they were transported back in time to the day almost 20 years ago when they both enlisted in the US Army, never knowing the moment and hour that lay ahead of a fateful reunion. The hypnotic moment was broken as neither wanted a recap of the past knowing full well that all answers were to be discovered in the present. Knick spoke first. “You know I spotted a future you; and I saved him from your wrath a second before you came in the door.”

“What.. that little Piker flying out the door who almost ran into me?”

“That’s right.” Rori laughed, “well I hope you put the fear of bejesus in him” as he scooped up a large bite of pie.

“Let’s just say I shared a bit of a moment with him” as Knick sipped his coffee to wash back a bit of his pie. Jenny reappeared with her pad. “Say is this coffee with a cop tonight?”

“No Jenn, this is coffee with an old friend”, as Rori looked up smiling. Jenny’s eyes were twinkling with mischief as she slapped down their bill and said “well I’ll leave this then for youse all to fight over. This could be fun to watch.” Knick chuckled and snatched the bill. “This one’s on me.” The young Jenny danced to the end of the counter, snatched the money off the counter by the door, and cleaned up that service.

The old friends devoured their pies sprinkled with conversation and drank coffee until Bud’s was deserted and they sat alone. Jenny flashed the lights up front, on off, on off. “Hint, hint”. The two seasoned rangers had covered a lot of ground as time had allowed. Knick stood up straightening, grabbed his coat and strode over to pay Jenny. Rori lingered by the door. As they began to exit Rori said, “Knick first of the week, after Ossie’s funeral stop by the station. We need to discuss further what I told you about the accident.” As Knick paid and tipped young Jenny he nodded, “right-y-o old friend.” The two stepped out into the cold, turned and walked in opposite directions, Knick to old blue and Rori into another night of unknown darkness.

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