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+ PLEX TOURS .3 The Diner

Alice adjusted the name tag on her server's uniform. She was excited to start her new job – waiting tables between auditions wasn't a burden to her, it was part of the fun, part of the life she had chosen, the dream she was trying to make real. 

“And here's where we sign the task list at the end of each shift,” Miranda said. “That's the last box to check for today's training. Now... I suppose you want to hear about the good stuff.”

It was quiet out front, the lull between lunch and dinner. Marko was prepping for the evening meal in the kitchen. Alice looked confused.

“All the rumour's about this place?” Miranda continued. “You mean you haven't heard the stories about Kelly's Diner?”

“Didn't it used to be a Chinese restaurant once?” Alice asked.

“They say it was a hot-spot for Tong violence. The place was shot up seventeen times. They say.”

Alice shrugged. She didn't like to make assumptions based on hearsay.

“But that's not the weirdest part,” Miranda said. “A lot of people in the neighbourhood say that this place is haunted... And that's why it attracts so much violence.”

Alice looked skeptical. Miranda had been super-nice so far, but maybe this was part of some lame initiation for new staff...

“And, get this, no one knows exactly when it switched from the restaurant to the diner, or what happened to the original owners... But it's been burnt down and rebuilt at least three times since then.” Miranda could see that Alice wasn't overly impressed with the history lesson. “I'm not trying to scare you. I'm not even saying I buy any of this stuff, either. It's actually refreshing to meet someone who isn't all wide-eyed and gullible.”

“I guess urban legends are kind of interesting,” Alice said. She had a strange, fleeting sensation, like a dream barely remembered.

“The only thing that makes me wonder...” Miranda said, “is the Irregulars. A lot of the rumours involve this group of... I don't know what, exactly. But they, apparently, help protect the place. Or try to, I guess.”

Alice was starting to get intrigued. “And who are they?”

“Some people say they're cops, some say they're vigilantes. I've heard that they're members of a local martial arts club. Or that they belong to some support group. A mental health thing.”

Alice had been in therapy when she was younger, because of her dreams. She got nervous when people started talking about mental health, was worried they would judge.

“There's Dexter, he always carries a baseball bat, a tough guy but sweet. Callan, who's quiet but has a temper – I've heard he's some kind of magician. Wraith, very classy, bit cold. Apparently she travels a lot, so business maybe? Spy maybe? Darius, who's the youngest, with a skateboard in one hand and a bible in the other. And then Max... Lots of stories about Max. Schizophrenic, alien, android.” She smirked. “He's nice, though.”

“You talk about them as if-”

“Well that's just it, Alice. I've met them. I've served them coffee. Only a few times over the years - 'the Irregulars', right? - but they're real.”

Alice was listening intently now. “Have they ever...? What do they talk about? Do you think what people say about them is true?”

Miranda looked thoughtful. “They are always polite, they always tip well. They usually look pretty tired. I try not to bother them, even though I'm curious. I figure that whatever they get up to, whatever keeps them busy out there, when they're here they need to relax. To be somewhere comfortable, familiar. To be looked after for a little while. Is that corny?”

Alice smiled. “Not at all.” And felt, in that moment, that if she never got cast, never even got called for another audition, that she would be happy working here for the rest of her days.

The door chimed. Marko called form the kitchen, “Customers!”