Gregson usually took his coffee black with a doughnut; that way he could indulge two desires at the same time. He walked to Sally’s Diner, across a busy metropolitan street. Downtown Chess-field was full of tourists enjoying 10 o’clock blue skies where the clouds were free to move any way they wished. He walked to the take-out window where a nervous teenager poured his coffee.

“Black with no sugar and a bear claw, if you got it,” Gregson said.

“Yes sir.”

“You must be new.”

“It’s my first day.”

“Well… it’s nice to meet you. My name’s Gregson.”

“Mine’s Alex.”

Gregson smiled and Alex tried to, but something was wrong. Gregson took his doughnut and coffee and walked around the corner. He sat on a park bench and took a drink. It was sugar water.

“What the…? That kid needs some serious direction. Even teenagers can’t screw up a cup of coffee these days. Something isn’t right here.” Gregson pulled his six-shooter from his pocket and loaded the bullets. He walked to the diner with a scowl on his face. Closed signs were hanging in the windows, so he walked through the back door. Three guys with Afros were emptying the cash register.

“I’ve gotten my coffee here for four years and it’s never been sweet,” Gregson said.

They pointed their guns at his head. He stared them down through his peep-sight. “Now, you can drop your guns and turn yourself in before anybody gets hurt or the janitor will have to squeegee your blood off the floor.”

Gregson saw the action in their eyes before they pulled their triggers. He ducked behind the counter and the plates behind him exploded into a million pieces. He rolled onto the floor and shot one of them in the leg.

The other pulled a scattergun and filled the counter full of lead. “Get that sucker!”

Gregson let the air out of his lungs like a pressure cooker.


All three were on the ground. “Sally, I need to borrow your telephone to make a call.”

“Right away, Gregson.”

He dialed. “Yes, police? There’s been a robbery…”

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