Like an old television warming up, Thistle's mind eased its way back into the present, his eyes focusing on what looked like a very agitated person.
"Well," said the restaurant patron, finishing his coffee in a hurry. "I believe that's not too good of a thing. I gotta get to work." He was talking to cover his discomfort. He put on his coat as he was walking out; his eyes caught the eyes of the waitress that had served him and communicated macros. Keywords. "Wacko." "My Tab." "Later."
Thistle's eyes settled into the impression in the vacated restaurant nook. What had he said? It was questionable what had come from his mouth. He remembered what he was thinking about, but not what he said.
He must have mentioned insanity. That would make sense. Another person, frightened by the mention of insanity. It was funny to think that the same man who's heartbeat raced at the thought of sitting across the table from a "nut case" with no publicly displayed physical dominance would probably go out into his car and drive along on an interstate highway and have no second thoughts about fear for his life. “Phew!” he’d exclaim. “That was close,” and then he would drive along at sixty-five miles an hour, and even if he saw an accident, as he passed, he might think for a second or two about the horror, and shudder with imagined pictures of gore, but soon he would be barrelling down the interstate again, inches from a concrete surface which would tear his soft skin and mince the bones in his body if he were to suddenly come in contact with it.
And actually, the odds of being killed in a car accident were greater than being killed, maimed, or even attacked by a lunatic. So what should have been of greater concern for the patron wasn't. That part was somewhat humorous to Thistle. But he didn't laugh.
Because it was also ironic. For not even ten minutes later, that same restaurant patron, the one who had arranged to pay his tab later with a glance at his waitress friend, the one who hadn't stayed long enough for Thistle to catch his name, the one who seemed so interested in his safety that he couldn't endure the tumult of an elder's recounting of a story, was thrown from his vehicle because he hadn't been wearing his seatbelt, and rolled almost a hundred feet before coming to his ultimate resting point, in the fast lane of the highway.
And Thistle had seen it coming, and had watched it pass.
Can’t a man pause long enough, ponder long enough to save his life? thought Thistle.
Thistle finished his glass of water, slowly rose from the orange bench seat, and with a small wave to his waitress, left the restaurant.