Herman asked, "Are you still a donut, George?"
George laughed and snuffed out his cigarette. The waitress came and refilled their coffee cups. Outside, the snow continued to fall, soft and orange like the way good medicine tastes when you're four and a half.
"We're closing soon," The waitress said, a few minutes later.
George said, "I don't know. I don't think so. Maybe some of my barbs have sprung."
"That's good to hear, George. I'll see you in a few months and we'll talk about that." And then, just like always, Herman was gone. There was a nauseatingly blurry moment, and then he was gone, like a movie's special effect.
George smiled. His thick boots tracked water prints, heavy heels, across the faded paisley carpet. George lit another cigarette, over tipped, and walked out into the snow. Outside, George's breath billowed, despite that soft, strange winter warmth that comes at the beginning of a really desperate blizzard.
George inhaled, smiled through stab of cold in his nostrils. He pushed smoke languidly out his nose. The smoke oozed like languid tentacles, like a sentient mustache.
The tentacle man appeared.
George sighed. "What can I do for you on this blustery night?" George said.
"Heard you might've sprung, so I came to take a look." The tentacle man said. Then, without so much as a preparatory blur, the tentacle man had his mouth against George's left ear. The tentacle man said, "But it appears. . . not yet. Springs are still winding. Maybe in the spring?"
And then, his head reeling, George was standing alone, sweating in a dark parking lot while snow settled on his hat and coat and