(This is a scrapped intro to a story I wrote in college.)
(I have no idea where I found the name “Greyloch”, but I thought it sounded amazing.)
(Oh, and Pinnacle City is a completely made-up place in the San Francisco Bay area of California. It’s a magical land of blue skies, glass highrises and restaurants that still allow smoking indoors.)
Inside a diner in Pinnacle City, California, Dana Gear and Adam Greyloch sit across from each other. Dana stared into a breakfast menu while Adam did the same.
“I can’t decide. I never can.” Dana said.
“Take your time.” Adam said. “Leah doesn’t get to work until later, since she stays later at night. My wife Allison is already there.”
“What does your wife do there?” Dana asked.
“Aly’s the head of Arcast Technologies’ R&D.” Adam said.
“Yeah. She’s got a private office and everything. It’s definitely a better gig than working in the cubicles.”
“I can imagine. I worked in a call center for a little bit. Hated it.”
Just then, a waitress came by with a pot of coffee.
“Either of you want any coffee?” the waitress asked.
“Black.” Dana said, her face still buried in the menu.
“None for me, thanks,” Adam said, “But I’ll take a diet soda.”
The waitress took off without saying a word.
Dana looked up from her menu.
“Did you decide on something?” Adam asked.
“Maybe.” Dana said. “I was kind of wondering if it was cool to smoke in here.”
“It should be fine. This city’s one of the only parts of the state where it’s allowed.”
Immediately after Adam finished his sentence, Dana retrieved a Zippo lighter and a pack of Sapphire-99 cigarettes from her jacket pocket.
“Thank God.” Dana said as she took a drag.
“Whatever works.” Adam said.
Dana began looking at her menu again. The waitress returned with Dana’s coffee and Adam’s soda a few minutes later.
“What’ll it be?” the waitress asked.
“Eggs benedict.” Dana answered.
“And you?” the waitress turned to Adam.
“I’ll have a vegetarian omlette.” Adam answered.
“It’ll be a few minutes.” the waitress said as she picked up Adam and Dana’s menus and walked away.
“So.” Adam said.
“Mhm.” Dana took a sip of her coffee, cigarette still in hand.
“Don’t burn yourself.” Adam said.
“The coffee’s not hot enough for that.” Dana said.
“I wasn’t talking about that.” Adam said, pointing to the cigarette between Dana’s fingers.
“Oh. That, too. I’ll be fine.”
“Not in the long run.”
“I started smoking when I was 15, Adam. Don’t worry.”
“And you’re 22 now, right?”
“Yeah. I’ve had that argument every other day for seven years. I’ll manage.”
“I’ll keep quiet.”
Dana looked around the diner for a second. It was fairly empty.
“Y’know, something’s been bugging me, Adam.”
“The hell kind of name is ‘Greyloch’, anyway?”
“A name given to my great-grandparents when they came over here.”
“What’s the original?”
“Y’know, I’m not sure. I figure that’s why the immigration officials changed it.”
Dana took a look around the diner as she sipped her coffee.
“There aren’t too many people here.” Dana said.
“It’s a Wednesday.” Adam said. “People are on their way to work.”
“Speaking of which, Dana.”
“Leah gets into her office at around 11 AM. We probably could have waited a little bit.”
“I wanted to be sure we got there.”
“You’re stressing yourself out. Meeting with Leah isn’t going to be a stressful thing.”
“I needed to be sure, Adam.”
“Alright. No problem.”
Dana sat and drank her coffee. After a few minutes, she took another long drag of her cigarette and tossed the remaining part it into her now-empty coffee cup.
Another waitress came over to re-fill Dana’s cup, but Dana pulled it away before the waitress could pour.
“I’ll need a clean cup.” Dana said. “This one’s gonna be an ashtray.”