He looks up from his mug, following the cascade of sugar up the hand pouring it. There is a girl there - the waitress - and she is smiling, chomping on a piece of gum.
He does not understand this, but says nothing, mostly because it's 3 A.M.
"I thought you needed it sweet, sugar," she says.
He is not sure if this is happening, or if he's imagining it. This is a scene from a movie - from a thousand movies - and the waitress a cardboard cutout straight from casting.
The sugar stops.
"Well?" she says. "Ain't you gon' drink it?"
He does not think that he will, and he does not want to. But he is polite, and she has prepared the coffee for him. The diner is empty, so is the road. No one else is around to drink it, and so he decides that he should.
He lifts the mug, slurps, and takes a moment. It tastes like sweet, hot water. It is how he imagines Oscar Wilde might have taken his coffee, indulgently sweet, maybe offensively so.
He sips again, slurps, then drinks. His neurons fire, and he is grateful for the caffeine, if not for the method of delivery.
His brain is functioning now, and so he begins to gather his thoughts. He is running, and has headed this way because it seemed a bad place to run, and thus a worse place to follow. He stopped here for coffee, because he needs to keep running, and maybe for bacon, too.
He decides that when the waitress come back he will order bacon - four slices, crispy - with buttered toast.
He does not see the waitress however, and wonders if she is out back, smoking. She is not waiting on other customers, because there are no other customers.
Minutes pass, and he finishes his coffee. There is a film on his tongue, and so he gulps down his water. The film remains, however.
More time passes, and he wants to leave now. His stomach is trembling, gurgling, and the bacon no longer sounds good. He tries to stand and look for the waitress, but the cramping sensation in his abdomen will not allow it.
He tries to steady his breathing, and notices that his vision is blurry. He wipes his eyes, but feels nothing. He notices that he does not feel the table when he touches it, does not feel the booth or the floor either.
Then he notices that he does not feel anything, and notices nothing more.