THE BELL OVER THE door gave a quick chime as the man dressed as a piñata entered Bill’s Diner. He carried with him, resting casually over his right shoulder, an old baseball bat, the handle wrapped in athletic tape. The tape was worn and frayed, as was the piñata suit, and the man who wore it.

He took a seat at the counter next to a woman in business attire. The bat he left leaning against the wall at his knees. The woman turned to look at him as he sat, her eyes going wide. He smiled at her. She returned the smile, but he detected a hint of discomfort around the edges. A tightness that is only there when something is amiss, out of the ordinary. She sat stiffly, as if she suddenly wanted to be anywhere but Bill’s.

He took a quick glance around the diner.

Everything seemed to be chugging along like normal. But then, what was normal? The man who dressed as a piñata ignored the thought. Now was not the time for philosophy. He must not let intellectual frivolity distract him. Something was amiss, if the woman’s body language was to be believed.

Yet, nothing appeared to be amiss. He could see Bill back there in the kitchen. Bill was cooking like there was no tomorrow, his various cooking implements flying with all the precision of a Swiss watch.

The waitress stood leaning back against the wall by the register. The man who dressed as a piñata gave her a nod. As usual, she pretended to ignore him. He smiled to himself, it was their little game.

The patrons all sat at their tables and talked among themselves, probably of lawn care maintenance and which dishwasher detergent worked best. The man who dressed as a piñata cared little for the day to day drudgery of the masses. His job was to protect them, beyond that they were on their own.

But he didn’t detect anything that might make the woman next to him feel uncomfortable.

Could it be him?


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