They found themselves in a diner halfway between King Street and campus. The décor here was just as cheesy as Golden Dragon, but with a more fifties inspired flair. They sat at a booth far from the door, right across from the men’s bathroom. The air stank of grease, ketchup, and coffee, with a faint undertone of ozone that could never be explained. Mark slid his bandaged hand under the table when the waitress brought them coffee. The few patrons were muttering about the accident, and he didn’t want to attract questions.
Mr. Cross’ hands shook when he lifted his coffee cup, but he managed not to spill any as he sipped the hot liquid. In the bright lights of the diner he looked even worse. Mark wondered what he would look like in broad daylight. A walking corpse, no doubt.
“Are you all right?”
Mr. Cross carefully set his cup down. It made a soft clattering sound as the ceramic jittered on the Formica tabletop. “Yes. I’m fine. Just getting old is all.” He sounded tired and resigned. It reminded Mark of his Nana who responded to every inquiry of “How are you today?” with “Just sitting here, waiting to die.” The thought of Nana, brought unpleasant memories. Memories he shared with Mr. Cross. He wondered if the old man ever thought he was turning into their grandmother.
From his demeanor, and obvious ill health, Mark began to regret demanding answers. But he needed to know. He had thrown himself across the path of a speeding pickup truck to save a stranger. If he was going to continue influencing Ashton Miller’s life, he needed to know why.
“So,” he started slowly. “Ashton Miller. This guy. Is he going to be president some day?”