“How the eggs coming?” Dieter asked.
Yanko closed the oven door and turned it off. “Basically done. Just need to let them set, then stir them up and put them out in the warmers.”
Dieter nodded as he transferred sausage links and bacon from the grill to a pan lined with paper towels.
Boris entered the kitchen. “Smell good. Move pastries and juice to buffet table. Food ready?”
“Just about,” Yanko said.
Dieter’s phone pinged, indicating a text message. Boris and Yanko froze, then turned to him with worried expressions. He turned off the grill and pulled out his phone. “Innes,” he said. “Boris, can you move the meat here to a warming pan and take it out when Yanko has the eggs ready.”
The text read, You up? Know what’s going on?
He hit the call button. “Did I wake you? I couldn’t remember if you were opening.”
Dieter stepped back and leaned against a prep-table. “No. I’ve been up for a while. Fays woke Tucker up. They apparently felt this, as did the dragons.”
“The dragons? How’d you know that?”
“Anders was at Steam.”
“No. Really? Wow. He doesn’t know does he?”
“Not that I can tell, but we’ll have to keep an eye on him. But that’s not important right now. Are you and Kip okay?”
“He’s in town, working night shifts this weekend. He’s the one that called me. You know I hate having the TV on when the bar’s busy. I turned on the news as I was herding the stragglers out. So I’m sitting here alone in a dark bar watching the carnage.”
Dieter tried to think of something consoling to say but couldn’t come up with anything.
Innes said, “Hey Clark, last call was hours ago. You shouldn’t be here.” Then clattering sound of a phone being dropped and the call ended.
Dieter looked up. Yanko came over. “Clark? Wasn’t that the guy that got shot?”
Dieter nodded. “Yeah. His boyhood friend.” He hit redial. It rang and rang. Then went to voice mail. He hung-up and redialed.
The call connected. The sound of heavy breathing came through the phone. “Innes?”
Yanko asked, “Did you say Clark?”
“I saw him, out of the corner of my eye, standing there in the dark, illuminated by the TV holding a bottle of beer. For in instant it was like old times when he’d be the last one in the bar and I’d pushed him out so he could go sleep it off down on his houseboat. Then I realized he couldn’t be there. He turned very slowly and looked at me. Tears running down his face and he said, Why, but no sound came out. Then nothing. Empty bar.”
Boris hissed, “Witch.”
Yanko muttered, “Bad juju.”
Dieter frowned at them, then looked back down at his phone. “So how much have you been drinking?”
“Nothing. I’ve really cut back recently. You don’t believe me?”
He sighed. “You know, belief has kind of become a moving target over the last few years. You need to get out of the bar and spend the night at Fi’s.”
Innes was silent for a moment. “No. I need to drive into town and spend a few hours with my husband.”
“Better idea. Drive safe and stop by the Esperanza this afternoon if you have time.”
“Will do,” Innes said and the call ended.
“What do you think?” Yanko asked.
“I’m done with thinking at the moment. I want to get the food out, try to placate the guest the best we can and then drag you home. We can’t do anything about any of this. Meg’s off to Orlando. She’ll help the guys. All we can do is grieve and try to take care of those around us. Right?”
“Da,” Boris said. “Hard fight darkness. Best hide. Protect family.”
Dieter looked into his face, the fresh face of a man in his early twenties. But the eyes were very old, centuries old. They’d seen the worst humanity had offered up. One man killing a few dozen people; what was that to Holocaust and genocide after genocide? But those tragedies weren’t his people, his tribe, his family. He had no words. He walked over to the table next to the ovens and picked up a pan of eggs. The other men took the rest of the food and followed him into the dining room; a quite room without a TV spewing an endless loop of despair and anguish.