The two men sitting in the corner booth were an odd pairing, to anyone interested enough to notice, anyway. Patrons of Adelle’s Diner were generally an accepting lot, content to leave others to their own business. So despite the marked contrast between these two particular customers, no one actually did seem interested enough to notice. Especially at this early hour, people were more preoccupied with the natural beauty of the sun rising, painting the lake and the surrounding forest in stunning color. The mists retreated as towering cumulous clouds reflected and refracted the sun’s light in innumerable shades of red and orange.
The older of the two men looked to be in his sixties. His wispy silver hair was in disarray from his worn paddy cap. The grey herringbone headwear sat beside him on the brown pleather bench seat. He wore a yellow collared shirt beneath a brown cardigan sweater, faded black slacks, and brown leather penny loafers, complete with pennies. His grey pea coat was draped over the back of the bench seat. The twinkle in the man’s blue eyes and his easy smile evidenced the fact that he was comfortable and pleased with his surroundings.
The other man regarded their current setting as if it were capable of infecting him with e-coli. His clothing and manner were better suited to a Four Seasons than a small town diner. His immaculately coiffed hair was thick and black as the coffee that sat before him, untouched. A dusting of silver at his temples leant him an air of sophistication, as did his exquisite navy pinstripe suit, a three piece straight from Saville Row.
He had a wide crimson and cornflower blue striped tie, knotted fantastically at his neck in a double windsor. The cuffs of his pristine white dress shirt extended from the sleeves of his jacket the perfect distance. Dazzling golden cufflinks boasted the monogram POD and were complimented by both a golden tie bar and a heavy Rolex.
This man appeared to be in his early to middle forties. His wingtips were a deep oxblood and were meticulously shined. Everything about him showcased how drab his companion was.
“This is where you want to do this?” The derision was heavy in the younger man’s voice. “Not exactly deserving of the import of the occasion. Although I suppose that is typical of you.”
The old man smiled kindly, taking no notice of the other’s contempt. “The pie here is like nothing I have ever tasted. You should try it.”
The suited man scoffed, flicking a bit of lint from the table with a manicured finger. “We are preparing to cleanse the earth of these ungrateful vermin, and you tell me I should try the pie?”
A young waitress approached to check on the mismatched pair. She kept her dark eyes on her notepad as she asked, “Have you decided what you want?”
“Oh absolutely,” the dark haired man exclaimed with mock enthusiasm, “I’ll have the pie!”
The girl’s eyes flashed up from her notepad as if to see if it were she the man was mocking. Just as quickly, they returned to the paper in her hands, as though she were incapable of meeting the man’s gaze.
“Cherry, apple, or butterscotch?” The girl asked quietly.
“We will both have the butterscotch, dear,” the older man soothed, “And I’ll take a warm up on my coffee when you get the chance.”
The girl nodded gratefully to the old man and left to fill the order.
“Why do you bother to be so kind to them? What have they done for you?”
“Being kind is my nature, son,” the old man answered.
“Son is it?” The well dressed man arched a sculpted eyebrow. “Well, dad,” he drew out the moniker sarcastically, “Forgive me if I fail to see your kindness.”
“You refuse to accept my kindness, Luc, but it is there anytime you ask for it.” The old man’s blue eyes shone with hope, and love.
“That is a topic upon which you and I will eternally disagree,” the man’s eyes were like chips of obsidian, radiating a chill that matched the other’s warmth.
“Why do you have such contempt for them?” The older man changed the topic. “Is it just your belief that I favor them?”
“Why do you have such love for them?” The younger man returned. He paused and laughed shortly, “My belief? That is rich. You made them to worship us, but they have created their own gods. That is why I hold them in contempt. It is high time we reminded them who we are.”
“By eradicating them?” The old man leaned against the seat back, draping an arm along its length.
“It’s not like you haven’t done it before. It is time to once again hit the reset button, old man.”
“I didn’t create them to worship us, or me, for that matter,” the old man said evenly.
“Yes you did,” came the quick reply. “You fashion yourself this benevolent father of all, ‘being kind is my nature’.” The younger man mocked. “That has not always been your nature, and don’t you deny it.”
The older man held the younger’s eyes until the younger man found another spot on the table that needed to be brushed clean. As he wiped at the table he continued his verbal assault.
“Admit it, it incenses you that these insects have fractured you into so many iterations that even you can’t keep them straight. The way they “worship” you, what a farce. Most of them only love you when they need something from you, and cast you aside once they get it, or realize it ain’t happening - then they curse you.”
The well dressed man shook his head in disbelief. “They are all petulant children, each fractured denomination ultimately convinced that they are in the right and in line to inherit your kingdom. You tell them it is not their place to judge, but that is all that they do! They are miserable creatures with no ability to love one another, in fact they despise one another. That is why it is so simple for me to do my work.”
The younger man paused his rant to straighten his tie and collect himself. He patted his hands along the sides of his head, as if his perfect hair had shifted and needed to be repaired. The old man sipped his coffee.
“They are capable of astonishing beauty, and I mourn that you have never been able to see that.” The older man lamented.
“You have lived among them, and still are blind to their follies! Every time you have gone to them, they have twisted your words and used them to justify war on one another, to subject each other to unimaginable pain. They don’t even realize that they are all worshipping at the same altar! They have more names for you than they do for me!”
“They are still at the beginning of their journey. Your lack of patience has always been your downfall.”
“You must be jesting,” the young man stated. “They are getting worse. You should spend more time among them. They are as self righteous as ever, and their capacity to do harm has increased a thousandfold. If we don’t act now, they will wipe themselves out all on their own.”
“Perhaps they will, but I believe that they will choose a better path. You will see.”
“Stop acting like we aren’t going to cleanse this problem. You think they are capable of great beauty, but everything they do, everything they create, pales in comparison to your works. Why give them praise for their pitiful attempts?”
“You cannot compare them to me. Look outside,” the man gestured to the achingly beautiful sunrise, “that is what I do. Wonders of nature and creation, the occasional miracle. They do all the rest. Look at that suit you’re wearing, for example. That is a beautiful garment. I do not make such things.”
“The loss of such things will be a small price to pay to put them back in their place,” the younger man sniffed. “I am giving you a chance old man, as my mind is set. Sit by and watch as I unleash my horsemen, or do the merciful thing and give them a quick end. If you let me do it, they will suffer beyond imagination.”
“You believe that I cannot stop you.” The old man’s kind eyes searched the younger man’s face, as if hoping to find some small shred of compassion.
“You won’t.” The younger stated with confidence. “Deep inside you want to wipe the slate clean. And no, I do not think you can stop me. I have grown powerful in my time away from you. Your efforts would just delay the inevitable, and prolong the pain.”
“Ah, here comes our pie,” the older man’s eyes lit with joy, “Thank you, dear.”
The waitress smiled and nodded, filled their coffees to the brim, and returned to the kitchen.
The old man watched, an amused look on his face as the younger man cut the end of his slice with his fork and raised it to his mouth, continuing his derision of humanity as he did so.
“There is nothing that they create that we cannot duplicate,” he stabbed the air with his pie laden fork to emphasize his point. “Indeed, anything we replicate will be an improvement.”
With that said, the well dressed man ate his fork full of pie. His eyes widened immediately.
“Mmm, this is a treat. Maybe you weren’t wrong to meet here.” He took another bite.
“Their secret is actual scotch whisky,” the old man offered. “Not the cheap gut rot either. No, Adelle uses fifteen year Macallan. There are many who would say that is a criminal waste of fine scotch, but I am not one of them.” The old man dug into his own slice of pie.
The buttery filling was topped with real whipped cream, not the imitation stuff made from oil. The younger man forgot his argument for a moment as he let the pie linger in his mouth, embracing his taste buds like a long lost lover. The scotch added a depth to the butter and brown sugar that truly was profound. The airy whipped cream complimented the warm filling to perfection.
“This crust,” the younger man gushed, “what magic does this Adelle possess?”
“She makes all her crusts by hand, every night,” the old man nodded his agreement. “It is love that you’re tasting, that is the magic in her pies.”
“Surely, you could create something as delicious.” The younger man took a sip of coffee, enjoying the addition of its bold flavor to the sweet delicacy in his mouth.
“Surely I cannot,” the old man denied, “I told you, I don’t make such things. I don’t even make the ingredients in that pie. They do it all.”
“I could get one of my people to do it, I am certain.” The younger man shoveled another bite into his mouth, relishing the perfect explosion of flavor.
The old man laughed, a sound of pure happiness and mirth. “I assure you that one of yours could not even come close. Did you not hear me? Love, son, that is what makes it what it is. Mortal love, not divine love. That is their gift. That is what makes them so fantastically different from us.”
The younger man locked eyes with the older, another fork full of pie frozen in place between plate and mouth. “You bastard.”
“I have been called worse.”
“You did this on purpose.”
“Of course I did.”
“This isn’t over,” the younger man insisted, although there was a lack of conviction in his voice. The pie was just… so… good.
“It is for now, and that is enough.”
The old man rose from his seat and set his paddy cap upon his head. He put on his pea coat as he gazed out the window to admire the view. He placed a hundred dollar bill on the formica table, as he knew Donna, the waitress, could use the extra cash.
“Feel free to finish my piece,” he said as he placed a loving hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “We can talk again later.”
The old man left Adelle’s smiling to himself. No one would ever know that an apocalypse had just been averted by a slice of butterscotch pie.