by Steven J Holetz
1. The Courtesy
Kyle Brown flipped back his rain soaked hood, and entered the front
door of The Boxcar Diner, a converted dining
car which sat alongside highway 2 heading out of Eastwood.
“Hey Melanie, give me some Coffee, would you?” he asked as he walked the length of the empty restaurant,
sitting down across from the diner’s only other patron, a wiry dark-haired man who was seated in a booth at the back.
The waitress moved along the counter of the long, empty Diner, grabbed a large Bunn carafe from a hot plate,
and brought it to the table, trailing steam. She flipped over the heavy mug nearest the man and filled it with practiced
precision. She extended the coffee toward the other man’s mug and was waved off, so she stepped away,
returning to the register and her Sudoku at the cafe's entrance. The new arrival was bulky, muscular,
and in his mid 30’s. He wore his blonde hair cropped close, and a damp navy blue windbreaker bearing an
"Eastwood HS Mustangs" logo, which was zipped just short of his chin.
The man added a sugar to his cup and stirred his coffee, the motion mimicking that of the ceiling fan.
“Johnny Patrick! Welcome back. How you doing?”
The other man waited a beat before answering, assessing the Blonde man through green, narrowed eyes. His
dark hair was still damp from the rain.
“It’s John. And I’m fine. How’s your Dad.”
“The old man’s doing well. He sends his regards. You been following the Mustangs?"
John pushed his cup aside.
“Fuck the Mustangs, Kyle. Why don’t you tell me why you called me here?”
“All business, eh? Just like you big city fuckers. All right, then. Since you’re back, I thought I’d do you a
Kyle took a sip of coffee. John kept his hands folded in front of him.
“It comes down to this. Your brother fucked up. He‘s done something he needs to account for.”
“What did he do?”
“He took something that wasn’t his.”
“Did you talk to Jimmy about it? Maybe he has an explanation?”
“I can’t find him.” He hissed. “He didn’t come to work today. And I don’t give a rat’s ass about an
explanation. Something went missing that I can’t afford to miss. Jimmy took it, so Jimmy’s gonna pay.”
“I hear you, but what I think you are suggesting is not acceptable. You take it in that direction, we have
“Big talk. But I know you’re smarter than that.”
“I know it. Look at you. You’re healthy. Your wife, Ann is it? She’s a sweet lady. You got a baby on the
way. After all this time, you’re starting a new life in your home town. Why fuck all that up for a brother you
don’t even know anymore?”
“My kid’s going to need an uncle.”
“Fuck that thieving piece of shit! Make no mistake, “Johnny”, the only reason I’m even telling you this is
because Dad likes you. I don’t. Never have. So I’m gonna do what needs to be done, and that includes you,
if you get in the way.”
“You know where I stand.”
“Then I guess this conversation is over. Love to the wife.”
Kyle rose abruptly and threw a couple bucks on the table, tossing a terse “Later, Mel” over his shoulder
before exiting. Johnny saw him remove a cell phone from his pocket and dial as he walked, talking as he
walked the length of the diner’s front window. He didn’t make eye contact as he passed, heading to the
John let out a breath that he hadn’t known he’s been holding, and paid his portion of the check.
"Fucking Jimmy", he thought. Back in town less than
two weeks, this was the last thing he needed.
He hadn't even seen his brother since he'd been back! Jimmy Patrick was a good guy, easy going, one
of the funniest you’d ever meet, in fact. But he was also lazy, careless, and occasionally prone to stupidity.
What had he done this time? John knew he had to find Jimmy quick before someone got hurt.
He zipped up his own jacket and followed Kyle's footsteps along the diner’s front door, before cutting
across the parking lot,
avoiding puddles and weaving through the few parked cars.
Gravel crunched under
his boots as he stepped between a van and his pickup. Pulling out his keys, he reached for the car door
handle, and suddenly heard from behind the opening of the van’s door. John started to turn, and everything