More Diner Patrons
(We need more characters)
There were two men who frequently came to the diner, always late at night, well after midnight but not at a consistent time. They were an odd pair. Claire didn’t know what their names were, as she had never heard them call each other’s name.
They were both humans. One was maybe 30, the other middle aged. The younger wore shabby clothes, a torn up hoodie with pins and buttons on the shoulders. The other was dressed more formally, but still shabby. He wore a navy sport coat, button up shirt and a fedora, but the coat was dirty, and even the hat had seen better days.
They always looked over-serious and talked in hushed tones, to the point where they were almost comically suspicious. When she came by to refill their coffee or bring their food, they always both looked at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. When she thought about it (she had much time to think in this job) she came to the realization that the way the both of them looked at her made her uncomfortable for different reasons. It seemed likely they were involved in some sort of criminal activity, which was not exactly a rarity among humans in Vermilion. That in itself didn’t bother her over much. While she was relatively ignorant of the criminal underbelly in town, she wasn’t so naive as to miss its signs, nor was she particularly upset by the idea unless someone was being directly harmed.
What made her uncomfortable was simply the way they looked at her.
The younger man looked at her suspiciously, as if she were some sort of undercover spy who was going to reveal his evil plan. Whether there was any evil plan besides something petty like selling recreational drugs or leaking proprietary schematics, she didn’t know. But when he looked at her she got a sense of violence. She couldn’t place exactly why she felt that way, but it was there. His look seemed to say, “if you tell anyone about this, if you pose any threat to my operation, I’ll kill you.” He had kind of a twitchy, anxious demeanor, and it seemed to her like it would be within his character to lash out at any moment, while she was placing pancakes in front of him.
Unconsciously, she had adapted to this by approaching his table very slowly and conspicuously, with a deliberately far-away, aloof look, so as not to seem to be taking him by surprise and above all, not to appear interested in his conversation. Once she had done her waitress business at the table, she walked away quickly — but not too quick, of course.
The older man was entirely different. Unlike his twitchy friend, he was quiet and made almost no gestures as he talked. In fact he sat almost perfectly still. Even the way he ate was stiff. In her head, she described it as “robotic”, then chuckled to herself, realizing that the way constructs moved was actually more fluid. Even constructs like the Helpmate P which were clearly not human, still had expressive, human-like gestures with their hands, and one might also say they had a clear body language and posture distinct to each, similar to humans. By contrast, the way this older man moved was strangely stunted. Perhaps he too was nervous, but had a different way of showing it, by stiffening up rather than fidgeting constantly.
The way the man looked at her was not with suspicion, but with an unmistakable look she had learned to recognize since she was 15 and her previously childlike figure developed sudden curves. The look of someone who looked at everyone and everything as a means to satiate his appetites.
As a waitress, she was well versed in the art of fake smiles. With him, she intentionally amplified the fakeness, so that no one could complain she wasn’t doing her duty, but that he would hopefully understand that she had no interest in any sort of conversation with him.
When these two were here, she hoped that Rachel would be there also. Or even Brick. For all his unfriendliness, he did not seem uncaring.
There was also a young couple. These two made her smile. Both teens, younger than her, and clearly in love. Or at least, in that stage of infatuation that looked enough like love to both parties.
They were both a little odd looking. Not exactly ugly, but imperfect, with peculiar features. The girl wore thick, pink-framed glasses and a prominent nose ring, with short, orangish-pink hair, and a shirt with sleeves that were much too long, with thumb holes cut into the cuffs.
He had buzzed hair beneath a black skullcap. Lots of piercings on his face, and large, sensitive eyes.
They too, talked in hushed tones. With the air of secrecy which often accompanies young love, as if anything they were saying was private and of deep importance.
Seeing these two made Claire happy, as she didn’t see a lot of young people in Vermilion. Humans were rare enough, and most of them were at least middle aged. It was rare to see people younger than her. It made her think this wasn’t just a place for washed up criminals.
There was a man who always came alone. He was well dressed, and not in a shabby way like the other guy. He brought a briefcase which contained a small laptop. He always sat at a table where he could keep his back to the wall, so Claire never got a clear look at what he was working on. But he was polite. Strangely pleasant and well-kept for Vermilion, and doubly so for an all-night diner in Vermilion. She wondered what sort of job he might have, and if he was doing it here at the diner.
Rarely did any women come into the diner, at night at least. Perhaps it was just that the people comfortable wandering alone at night were usually men. She was always happy to see other women, like the girl with the nose ring or even Rachel, though Rachel wasn’t exactly a woman. Was she? It occurred to her that she’d never asked her how she thought of herself. But was that an okay question to ask? Constructs may not have emotions the way humans do, but she had the impression they could definitely be offended.