The pancakes weren't bad. Zane was packing his away too. It didn't look the little guy was going to leave me any of his. Our waitress came back to check on us, actually it was Zane she was checking on. The long sleeve shirt she was wearing rode up enough on her wrist when she took his glass for a refill that I saw the fresh scars from the blade or razor. I looked away and pretended not to notice her tug the sleeve back down. She didn't ask me if I wanted a refill. I let it go. Everybody has their load to carry but slit wrists were a baggage claim to a world of pain.
That's when the kindly old Sheriff slipped in under my radar. I didn't realize how conditioned I had become. I also didn't realize that my early warning system that I had relied on for so long had a major flaw. Later I called it the "Nice Guy" blindside. He didn't trip the hostile alarm because he personally wasn't hostile. He was just doing his job. Hell, he was probably thinking about getting a free law enforcement doughnut or its equivalent from the manager of the restaurant. He wasn't heavily armed because he didn't need to be. He was a tripwire tho I doubt if anyone had explained that to him. An invisible string connected him to the real power and cutting it was just another alarm in their response system.
He stood about two feet from us, looked me up and down, smiled a real smile, and asked if he could join us. I looked him over. He was pushing 60, in shape but it was a diminished in shape, time was robbing him slowly. He was wearing a worn khaki shirt with a faded patch that told me he was Circleville Police, maybe it was Centerville? I wasn't sure as it was worn and washed out as his shirt. He was wearing a pair of jeans held up by a garrison belt. His duty belt was minimal and he was packing a revolver. He sure as hell wasn't the tip of a SWAT wedge.
I moved the empty chair out with the toe of my boot and told him "Sure, have a seat." This might be good. He was probably a better source of information than anything the Information Center would tell me and I didn't have to walk anywhere.
"Pancakes huh. They're pretty good here. If you got the time you should try the pumpkin pie. We're famous for our pumpkins."