Friday 8 – Sunday 10 February 2013
Morning arrived faster than Eden Gross wanted. She had spent the better part of the night examining the information on the flash drive that had been mysteriously delivered in an unremarkable envelope to her hotel room. Terence Blackwood, head of Blackwood Research and Development would have a fit if he knew that she had come to possess such damning evidence against his corporation.
Over the course of the last six years, he had done his utmost to prevent her from accessing any information that wasn’t already public knowledge, and he had pretty much succeeded through the use low level legal interference aimed at the newspaper all the way up to court injunctions aimed at her specifically. Where Blackwood Research and Development was concerned, Eden Gross was persona non grata. She smiled in her sleep, the very thought of finally having some dirt on Terence Blackwood enough to slip between the layers of sleep and consciousness and stir her.
However, it was the sun not Blackwood that stole her sleep. It didn’t so much as filter in through the curtains as it did flood, bitch slapping the sleeping journalist back to life. She rubbed her already red eyes. They felt gritty and scratchy and in need of a good saline replacement. She made a mental note to find a pharmacy during the day: after food, eye drops were at the top of her list. Eyes still closed, not wanting to give up the last bit of sleep, Eden stretched the cramps from her arms and legs, and her mouth gaped open in a huge yawn.
With her morning rituals completed, Eden left the hotel in search of breakfast. She headed to a little diner a block away from the hotel and sat herself in the booth at the very back of the establishment. It was perfectly placed for her to see who was entering through the main door, and for a quick escape out through the kitchen should the Blackwood goons feel the need to hassle her. A waitress who looked old enough to be her grandmother waddled over to take her order.
‘What do you suggest?’ Eden asked.
‘Another diner, honey,’ came the rapid-fire reply and they shared a laugh for a short moment.
‘I guess I’ll start with a cup of coffee, black, no sugar,’ Eden said.
‘You like pancakes, honey? ‘Cause the cook does a mean stack of banana pancakes with real maple syrup,’ offered the waitress.
‘Yeah, that would hit the spot. Thanks,’ replied Eden.
‘I’ll get him to do a side of crispy bacon and some scrambled eggs too. You look like you could use a decent start to the day.’
The waitress waddled away before Eden could feebly protest that a breakfast that size would be more than she could eat in a week. The truth was, this morning, Eden felt as though she could comfortably devour two or three serves of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. Her mouth watered in anticipation of the meal.
A few minutes later, the elderly waitress returned with a cup of coffee blacker than Eden had even seen.
‘Food will be here shortly,’ she smiled and disappeared again. Carefully sipping the hot coffee, Eden looked around at the other patrons of Clay’s Pigeon Diner and recognised a man sitting alone at the counter. He had grown older since she had last seen him the previous night at the Emergency Department of the hospital, where she’d overheard that his son had died possibly as a result of the Blackwood Facility Five disaster. She resolved to approach the grief stricken father and offer her services to investigate the boy’s death as a part of her current story, but the waddling waitress delivered a large plate of pancakes, bacon, and eggs to her table, setting it down in front of Eden.
Noticing Eden watching the customer at the counter, the waitress moved directly in front of her line of sight.
‘You a journalist, honey?’ the waitress asked in her gravelly voice. Eden looked up at her aged face, tossing around the idea of lying about her profession. Figuring the older woman would have a highly effective bullshit detector, Eden responded truthfully.
‘Yeah, I am.’
‘You here to cover the explosion at Blackwood F Five?’
‘That was a stroke of luck. I happened to be here prior to it,’ Eden replied.
‘You writing a nice story about Blackwood, or are you one of those reporters that likes to rake up dirt?’ The waitress didn’t pull any punches.
‘My relationship with Blackwood,’ Eden said, ‘is less than favourable. In fact, Blackwood himself would probably like my head mounted somewhere on his hunting room walls.’
The waitress glanced back at Carlo Lucciano.
‘You might see fit then to help out Carlo and Anna,’ she said quietly.
‘Why’s that?’ Eden asked.
‘Lost their son last night. Thinkin’ ‘round the place is that his dyin’ has something to do with Blackwood F Five but nobody here even knows where to start lookin’ into it. Maybe you could help?’
Eden nodded, her lips pursed together tightly, fighting the overwhelming urge to leap from her seat and race towards the grieving man. This was exactly the sort of lead she wanted.
‘Maybe you could give Mr. Lucciano my card and suggest that he contact me?’ Eden flipped open her purse, pulled out a pristine business card that hadn’t seen the light of day since its printing, and slid it across the table to her waitress.
‘Maybe I’ll do just that,’ replied the woman. ‘You be sure to enjoy your breakfast there, honey.’
Eden watched as the waitress waddled over to Carlo Lucciano and handed him the business card. He looked at it, back and front, and then looked in Eden’s direction, briefly nodding to the journalist. She took it as a signal that he would be in touch and turned her attention to the large plate of food in front of her as Carlo left the diner.
‘It’s going to be a good day,’ Eden said to herself and tucked in to the stack of pancakes covered in maple syrup.
. . . To be continued . . .