No. 339

If it wasn’t the coldest day of the year, it was close. We were at Dana’s, like usual, when there was a knock at the door.

“Tourist,” said Bill Worsley.

I nodded. Nobody from Fox’s Landing comes through the front door at Dana’s. I sipped my tea and watched to see the stranger enter.

As Dana passed us to open up, she pointed and half-whispered a warning. “Be nice.”

You listen to a girl like Dana.

“Welcome to Landing,” I told our guest after he got in and shook himself off. The man had a hungry look about him. Maybe he’d been on the road too long. It’s a drive from anywhere to Landing. I suppose that’s why we like it here.

 He resisted the urge to get some kind of fancy drink, though. I think Dana respects the ones who order regular.   

The man seemed surprised to hear that Dana ran the store. Maybe we all got used to her being on her own after her parents died. It doesn’t seem like so long ago if you think about it, but time passes slower here. There’s less ways to fill it. It’s been five years since she opened the Coffee shop.

Bill started winding the man up. Like I said, there’s less ways to fill time here. Dana caught him just before he got to the punch line, like we haven’t heard it all a hundred times before. “No, Dana, We were just telling the visitor here that you’re ninety-five years old.”

So she threatened to ban us for a third time. At least this one wouldn’t be my fault.

Audrey Harris asked the man’s name.

 “James Docker,” he said as he pulled his chair a little closer to the table. It was our cue to introduce ourselves.

Bill went first, being the talkative one.

I followed. “Frank Macklin.”

Docker’s handshake was solid.

Emily Wills said her name, but so quietly that I don’t think Mr. Docker heard. In any case, he called her “Emmy” directly after.

Oddly, Dana didn’t come back from the kitchen very quickly after bringing Docker’s coffee.  Sometimes she gets like that. I have a feeling she’s embarrassed that she looks so young. But that’s my granddaughter for you.

With introductions complete, we settled back in to our conversation. I kept my eye on Docker.

You can tell the moment that somebody decides to stay in Landing. For our new friend it was just after his second cup. I think I knew it before he did.