Julia stared at the man across the counter --a customer asking after one of her employees. She narrowed her eyes and said, "She's not here."
"Are you sure?" The man asked. He wore a light grey suit, with a white shirt, black dress shoes. He also wore a huge, black scarf.
It was June in Detroit. Everyone was sweating, except this man, who stood, legs spread, grinning politely at Julia the barista, owner of The Coffee Space, just off the Cass street corridor.
Julia smiled politely, her eyes still narrow. "She doesn't work today." She growled.
"I understand your concern for your friend? Your colleague. But I want you to know I will take good care of her." The man paused, furrowed his brows and nodded, as if asking: Understand?
Accidentally, Julia nodded.
"At least," The man with the gigantic black scarf and light grey business suit continued, "I will make sure not to turn her into a monster like myself. I recognize that I am a monster, and so, I think, do you. My past stains me." He smiled. The man's teeth were thin and crooked and often overlapping, like a trampled match stick box. "You do not think that I fit, and I know I do not fit, within your conception of normal, or nice, or safe. For myself, you are right. But: I will take care of Sara, and I will take care to keep Sara from becoming." The last word hung in the air, and the man in the grey business suit cocked his head and smiled. "At least these days, recently, you see, I am a conscientious monster." He grinned again, without revealing his teeth, this time.
Julia shuddered, goose flesh ran up her arms, which she rubbed, hugging herself.
"May I leave something for Sara?" The man asked.
"Sure." Julia whispered.
The man pulled a wide envelope from inside his thin suit jacket. The envelope was yellow --a standard inter office business envelope, yellow, with a series of names crossed off, leading to the bottom of the page and the name Sara Miller. The man adjusted his scarf and said, "Please take care that Sara gets this. Thank-you. Sorry to bother." He held the envelope out and Julia took it.
"Will do. Bye." She said.
The man smiled, tipped an imaginary hat off his bald head. He pretended the hat fell down, he picked it up, dusted it, blew specs of imaginary dust from his non-existent hat, set it back on his head and turned, and left.
Julia, paler than normal, thin lipped, leaned against the counter top. Next to her, the large yellow envelope glowed softly.