The revelation of getting a ride from a dead woman had thrown me off my game. I knew I wouldn’t be focused on the job, so I decided to hold off for now. It just didn’t seem right to move on so quickly; I was in mourning for Pete’s sake! I walked around until the sun came up and I noticed that the Main Street Diner was open. A healthy breakfast sounded good after all the excitement.
Upon entering the establishment, the first thing I noticed was a grotesque looking woman wiping down tables. She was bent over with a terrible hunchback, and had a lazy eye so off it might have had a mind of its own. The rag she was using to clean off surfaces looked oily and was spotted with mold. I thought the smartest play here was to take a table on the other end of the joint and hope a different waitress was cleaning up after her customers.
I sat down and felt a bit of uneasiness. I peeked back over my shoulder to see one of the hunchback’s eyes darting my way. I quickly spun around and got chills down my spine. Maybe it’s her first day, I thought. She hasn’t had a chance to touch this table with that disgusting rag. I took one more peek, and, again, a single eye staring back. Except I could have sworn it was the opposite eye! I figured she must have been messing with me.
“Coffee?” My waitress asked, holding a pitcher.
“Thanks. Hey, what’s with Igor over there?”
“Who, Marjorie? Would you like her to hypnotize you?”
“No, I don’t want her to hypnotize me! What kind of business are you running here?”
“Oh!” She said, rather excitedly. “That’s what she does here. I thought perhaps you were a return customer.”
“Listen. I have never and will never be hypnotized.” I leaned back and put my hands behind my head. “Only the weak can be hypnotized.”
The waitress looked at me for a moment with a blank look on her face. I assumed she was the type to be hypnotized.
“...I’ll be back for your order.” She said, turning quickly towards another table.
The town was beginning to wake. I watched out the window as the streets and sidewalks were filling up with people heading to work, or whatever activities they had in the 40s… I think Frisbee was a big thing. Just then, I heard what sounded like a bullfrog that learned to speak English.
“Would you like to know your fortune today, sir?”
I jumped at the sight of Marjorie hunched down near my face. I didn’t know quite how to respond, and then I realized.
“Hey, that lady just said you hypnotize people. So which is it?”
“By hypnotizing people I can make their fortunes come true.” She tilted her head to one side, then the other as she explained. Her eyes knocked about like a human pinball machine. She looked like a mob boss making a deal.
“Whatever, sorceress.” I scoffed. “You can’t scare me into falling for your parlor tricks. Shuffle your way back over there,” I waved, “I think I see a clean table for you to oil up.”
“You’re skeptical of my powers. That’s ok, but do me a favor and keep an eye on that couple over there.”
I peered over, trying to see something visible that she had done to them. The man was cupping the woman's hand across the table. He seemed to be fairly calm in watching the woman fidget around in the booth, taking quick glances at the traffic outside, and shifting around again.
“They asked for my help, and I gave it to them.” She straightened up as far as her hunchback would let her, and crossed her arms.
“No!” I shouted. “Hey, this witch has you under her spell! Get out now while you still can!”
The evil Marjorie told me to quiet down, and tried to hold me back. I was too spry and successfully utilized a capoeira technique to avoid the grasp of her dirty claws. The couple, particularly the woman, looked to be in shock.
“What are you waiting for? Can’t you see she’s coming for you?” as I pointed at the evil Marjorie. She was standing perfectly still, looking at both the ceiling and myself.
I held the door open and shooed the now frantic couple out onto the sidewalk. Thinking my job there was done, I headed back to my booth, my nose in the air, but something went wrong. Just then, a scream came from the other waitress, and then several car horns began honking outside. Everyone that had just been quietly applauding my work rushed to the diner windows to see the man trying to get ahold of his wife. She was distraught, in the middle of the street, barely staying on her feet. She looked like a matador trying to take one three bulls who had lost his muleta. Traffic on main street came to a complete halt, drivers were getting out of their cars while the man wrapped up his wife and dragged her to the sidewalk.
I couldn’t help but feel bad about the part I played in causing the scene. Of course, the real culprit was the evil Marjorie. I was calmly perusing the menu when she approached.
“Ochophobia,” she said, hunching over me.
“What’s that, now?”
“Ochophobia is the fear of automobiles. That, coupled with a slight case of Dystychiphobia; the fear of accidents is what the woman suffers from.”
We both glanced out the window again just as the police were arriving to question the couple.
“I had hypnotized her to release herself from the fears and, when she was ready, to cross the street without having a breakdown… You frightened the daylights out of her and ruined everything.”
There was a long pause.
“...The Denver omelet looks good.” I could feel one of Marjorie’s eyes glaring at me. “Yeah… That’ll hit the spot.”
The walk home from the Main Street Diner was a long one. That was when it really began to sink in what a strange place this was. It was no ordinary town, and the time machine house that brought me here was no ordinary time machine house. Rachel Lynn had convinced me to stick around, but I could tell it just wasn’t going to work out. First of all, I was pretty certain at that point that she was never going to put out. I think I had a better shot at the dead one, she seemed really into me.
If what Rachel Lynn had told me were true, that giving up on my desire to be a great cat burglar was what I had to do to get back home, then I would have to change my ways. I thought about what I could do instead. I thought perhaps I could be the owner of the first yoga studio in the area. I would have a burgeoning business in a few decades when the trend really begins to take off.
Then it hit me. I knew what I could do that would help people instead of hurting them… And then I would charge them top dollar! It was something that I wanted to do as a little kid, and thought about doing often. Yes, I was going to do the ole Michael Jordan routine, and go back to my childhood dream while at the height of my career.
I got back to the house and went straight up to Rachel Lynn’s room.
“Just call me Jack Klugman, P.I.” I said, with outstretched arms.
Rachel Lynn was folding some laundry. My sudden announcement startled her so much she threw a blouse in the air.
“Call you what?”
“P.I. ...the I stands for investigator,” I smiled.
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“Oh! The P stands for private.”
“Yeah, Jack, I understand that part of it,” as she hurried past me.
I went to follow.
“Isn’t this great news?”