Big brown eyes bore into my steady blues, begging me to lose. I could feel my eyes burning, tightening at the edges and I knew it was only seconds before…achoo!
“Ha!” I cried. “I win.”
“Only on a technicality,” Roger mumbled, sniffing indignantly as he wiggled his nose.
“Fine. Best two out of three, then. Loser buys lunch.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” I asked, knowing something was up. Roger always won our blinking contests. It was like his super power. For me, it just helped pass the dead time. And today, for some reason, was extremely dead. It was only lunchtime and we’d only had four drive ups.
“I just don’t feel so hot. Me & Teddy ate at that new Japanese steakhouse downtown last night. The food was great, but ever since then I’ve been feeling lousy.”
“Ewh. Sushi. Gag me with a spoon,” I cringed.
“If only it were that easy to shut you up,” I could tell even his half smile took effort . It was then I decided to let up on him. He really didn’t seem like his normal self, so I settled with asking about his dinner with Teddy.
“What was the new restaurant like?”
“It wasn’t bad. I prefer the sushi bar, but Teddy wanted to whole kit and caboodle. Which meant sitting at the hibachi table. Besides the two of us, there was another couple and a family of four that shared in the chef’s performance.”
“Not my usual cup of tea, but sounds interesting.” I took a swig of water and glanced at the time again. Not even fifteen minutes had passed since I last checked.
“Our chef was pretty amazing,” he continued. “With the chopping and the food flipping and flame throwing, it was like watching the Cirque De Soleil… but on a grill.”
“Nice,” was all I could think of to say.
“But the best part was when Teddy saved this kid’s life,” Roger continued, pulling the glasses off his thin face and wiping the lenses where they had fogged over from his body heat. Teddy was a doctor at the county hospital. Not only was he extremely good looking, but he was also kind, funny and smart, to boot. I always thought he was kind of the perfect guy. It seemed to me that all the good ones are either already taken, gay or dead.
“Say what?” I asked, spinning around in the stool, eyebrows raised. “You should’ve led with that instead of making me suffer through the rest of your boring ass story.”
“Yeah, the teenager at the table with us had an episode or something,” Roger kept on, taking a deep breath. “We were on our second or third dish and everything was going great. We were all just kind of joking and laughing when all of a sudden the boy’s nose started bleeding.”
“Nose bleeds are relatively common, though, right?” I asked. My cousin, Brady, used to get them all the time growing up, for no apparent reason.
“Yeah, but ones followed by the onset of a massive seizure… not so much.” He wiped his forehead.
“So, the kid starts convulsing and Teddy and I restrained him until he finally just kind of stopped. The manager had already called 911 but was told by the operator that all units were already out. ETA on the soonest was at least 20 minutes so we put him in the Rover and I drove him straight to County. I don’t know what was going on last night, Eve, but the hospital was jammed.”
“Hey, I thought you said Teddy saved his life. Sounds to me like you did a lot of the heavy lifting,” I teased, until I really noticed Roger.
“Hey. Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look so hot.” His normally cocoa skin was grey and beads of sweat were starting to develop on his forehead and under his eyes.
“I’m fine, Eve.” As if to prove his point, Roger stood up. Not a great idea. I raced over to him and grabbed him under the arms as he started to slump back down.
The sound reverberated throughout the small area, startling me so much I almost let go of Roger. What the…?
I turned to look and for a fraction of a second I couldn’t move. On the other side of the teller window stood a young man. Late twenties, maybe. Nicely dressed in a black button up shirt and dark blue jeans. His arm was raised and fist was still touching the glass where he had pounded on it a moment ago. His face was caked in blood, dark rivers of red-black goo dripping down his nose and chin blending into the collar of his black shirt where everything almost looked normal again. His irises were black end empty, the whites of his eyes covered in jagged red veins. I looked away, focusing on Roger who was like putty in my arms. I dragged him back against the wall and slid his body down into a sitting position, watching as his head slumped over.
When I stood back up, the man was still outside, staring at me with those freaky eyes. What the hell do I do? I could see across to the main building. It looked eerily devoid of movement and when I pushed the call button on our video chat, all I got was a busy tone. I pushed it again. And again. And again. Nothing. I looked around, trying extremely hard to pretend like there was not a deranged man standing less than ten feet away from me. I crossed over to the cabinet where I kept my purse and frantically went through it trying to find my cell phone.
Shit. Lily was playing with it in the SUV. It’s probably still in there.
BAM! His fist slammed against the window again and I nearly lost it, whatever it I had left to lose in the first place.
“What?!” I screamed at him. “What do you want? Go find some other place to bleed out!” His head cocked sideways and he formed a weird “O” shape with his lips. His mouth continued moving but I couldn’t hear a thing. I flipped on the teller switch and a soft smacking sound rushed through the interior speakers. A tingling sensation coursed its way up my body and for a moment I thought my heart was going to beat right through my chest. Then it stopped. He stared at me again and let out a moan so guttural that every last hair stood on edge.
I flipped the teller switch off again and the room went silent. Roger made a noise from his place on the floor and I went back over to him. His breathing was erratic and his forehead was on fire. I was scared shitless but I knew had to get him out of there.