The first night the man orders an apple fritter, it is three in the morning, the street lamp is broken, and the nightly fog obscures the waterfront’s run-down buildings, except for Chuck’s Donuts, with its cool fluorescent glow. “Isn’t it a bit early for an apple fritter?” the owner’s twelve-year-old daughter, Kayley, deadpans from behind the counter, and Tevy, four years older, rolls her eyes and says to her sister, “You watch too much TV.”
The man ignores them both, sits down at a booth, and proceeds to stare out the window, at the busted potential of this small city’s downtown. Kayley studies the man’s reflection in the window. He’s older but not old, younger than her parents, and his wiry mustache seems misplaced, from a different decade. His face wears an expression full of those mixed-up emotions that only adults must feel, like plaintive, say, or wretched. His light-gray suit is dishevelled, his tie undone.
An hour passes. Kayley whispers to Tevy, “It looks like he’s just staring at his own face,” to which Tevy says, “I’m trying to study.”