Where Armadillos Go to Die
Sylvester Bradshaw laid the check on the stack with the others and finished his tabulation. He bound the money with a rubber band and turned to his left. On the floor of his little office in back of the restaurant sat a safe. He twisted the dial and swung the door open and set the money inside.
Beneath the cash rested a file folder. In that folder was the most valuable information in the world, scribbled down in his very own hand on sheets of lined paper. Secret information. Like the formula to Coca-Cola.
Information about what made his invention work, known only to him and his sons, who would never divulge it, if they ever hoped to rise above their circumstances.
He closed the door and gave the knob a sharp twist and then he heard it again.
This time it sounded like a car door being slammed but at this hour there was no legitimate reason for that.
He took his wheelgun in hand. He eased through the kitchen to the dining area where he stopped to let his eyes adjust to the gloom. Tables and chairs materialized from the darkness.
Over in that corner is where the two young men sat tonight, couldn't have looked more out of place if they had been wearing headgear common to the gods of Norse mythology. They ate their fish and French fries slowly and craned their necks every time the kitchen door opened and tried to look inside.
Sylvester made them for venture capitalists the moment they stepped in his restaurant and this surmise they confirmed by leaving him their business cards on their way out and telling him they'd like to come by and visit with him about his invention.
He'd dropped the cards into a drawer with all the others.
Word was definitely getting around. Had been for some months now.
He stood listening. What little illumination there was fell through the window from a lone light on a pole in the parking lot. Dim though it was, it was sufficient.
There was someone there.
The figure of a man standing at the edge of the window.
Backlit as he was by the the kitchen, Sylvester knew the man could see him. "Who's there?" he cried. His voice sounded thin and high-pitched.
The figure moved toward the door, casting his own faint shadow across the red-and-white checkered tables one-by-one. The shadow table-hopped slowly toward the front door and vanished.
The doorknob rattled and the door swung inward.
Hadn't nobody thought to lock up?
The man stepped into the room and Sylvester raised the pistol in a two hand grip and cocked it. He was at the point of pulling the trigger when he stopped. He lowered the wheelgun and let the hammer down with his thumb.
"What in the world-"