“Morning,” Alfred said.
“Hello,” James replied, not looking up from the menu.
“Good morning,” Biggleboth added.
“Where’s Quigley?” Alfred asked, taking a chair at the small corner table and waving to the waiter for a cup of coffee.
“Jack? Couldn’t come. Doctor’s appointment,” James said.
“The doctor? I didn’t know he was sick,” Alfred said.
“Well maybe it was his barber. Appointments, all the same. Who can keep track?”
“What will you have?” Biggleboth said. “I’m thinking about the bacon.”
“Only the bacon?” James asked.
“Is there anything more than bacon that’s worthwhile?”
“You should really consider the hollandaise.”
“On its own?”
“Oh, before I forget,” Alfred said. “I saw the damnedest thing on the way here.”
“Oh really? What was that?” James asked.
“Well there were these two young gentlemen, and they were both dressed in orange.”
“I don’t imagine that’s so strange,” Biggleboth said.
“Not on its own, no. But one held a whistle and had the most distant look on his face, and the other was gazing off at the crowd down the way with a glassy kind of resolve, just something odd in the eye, you know?”
“A crowd, you say?” James said.
“Ah,” Biggleboth said. “The pilgrims. Their devotion ever inspires. I think I will get the hollandaise after all.”
“I’m having the chocolate,” James said. “It’s nearly lunch.”
“You don’t say,” Biggleboth said, craning his neck in the direction of the waiter, who’d still not arrived with Alfred’s coffee.
“But there’s more,” Alfred said.
“To the story. There was also a grandmother, nervous as a bloody virgin on her wedding night.”
“I don’t think she’ll be bloody until after the wedding night.”
“Biggleboth, don’t be coarse,” James said.
“It’s not coarse, James,” he replied. “Merely factual.”
“And it’s not just that. She had an air of espionage about her. Something hidden under a shawl on her head.”
“Double-O Grandmother. Well, it’s the perfect disguise,” Biggleboth said. “Just black please,” he added, the waiter finally emptying a carafe of steaming coffee into their mugs.
“Alfred, are you going to have the chocolate or the bacon?” James asked.
“The waffles. But anyway, I’m only getting to the best part. At the same time as this, behind them all I spotted the strangest fellow.”
“Waffles? Have you gone Belgian on us?” Biggleboth asked.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting that,” James said.
“Yes, neither was I,” Alfred said. “Especially since he had this haunting look in his eye, which I could only describe as knowing. Indeed, he knew something. But what could it be?”
“I meant about the waffles,” James said.
“Quite,” Biggleboth said. “Shall we order then?”