TITLE: RACE CARD
GENRE: Suspenseful Women's Fiction
I eased my black Jetta, freshly washed and Quik-waxed, into a parking space half a block from the diner. I'd skip feeding the meter. My mission would take two minutes.
Who'd be writing tickets before six o'clock? Too early for parking enforcement officers. Or Green Tree cops. Any patrolman starting his shift would be planted at the counter of the town's oldest diner, the Dinner Belle, the same place I was headed.
I pushed through the front door, my high heels sinking into doughy linoleum as I strode toward the counter. No one met my glance, but I sensed people staring. A uniformed cop, pretending to read the sports section of the "Green Tree Standard," surveyed me from the corner of his eye. He rose from his stool, paid his bill, and grabbed a toothpick off the counter.
"Ma'am," he said, inserting it into his mouth, giving me a once-over.
I grinned a tight-lipped smirk as he plodded past me into the pre-dawn gloom to start his day.
A waitress with platinum-blond hair shellacked into a crisp helmet had rung him up. The venerable Dottie, mired in the same bygone era as the diner. Selectively friendly, she used your first name if she liked you.
"What'll it be, dearie?" she asked.
She'd just earned herself the Colonel's B-I-G hello. I beamed and said, "Nice to see you, too, Dottie," like we hadn't seen each other in ten years.
Dottie's eyes shot open, a deeper furrow creasing her cavernous forehead.