This story started here.
The big glass doors swung open and the first passenger came in. She wore a bright yellow rain slicker and she looked around, with an expression that Billy knew very well.
Then, when she had determined where the restrooms were, she walked quickly in that direction as the others started to come in behind her.
The bus had more passengers than Billy had expected. They looked cold and wet as they trickled into the building, even though the overhang had covered them most of the way between the bus and the entrance. He wanted to yell at them to hurry up and get inside, since a lot of cold air was coming in with them.
He was glad he’d decided to make two pots of coffee. He was also planning to have some coffee himself, after the bus left, before he went home.
If the bus left, and if he was able to go home.
The bus station was far outside the center of town — not near anywhere except the highway. Billy was sure the city buses had stopped running — he could usually see them go by from his coffee stand, and he hadn’t seen one for hours. If the bus left, he’d probably be able to get Cody to let him ride to thecampus stop, and he could walk home from there. He’d get drenched, but it would be better than staying in the station forever. Cody would be an ass about it, of course, but Billy had survived that before.
This was usually a forty-minute layover, but with the bus being so late, it would probably be only five or ten minutes.
The next passenger through the doors was a teenage girl. She had short, blonde hair and she went to one of the plastic chairs and sat down. She was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
Two men came in after the girl, and for a moment it looked like they might be together, but then the older one went toward corridor that led to the restrooms and the other, a younger man with horn-rimmed glasses, headed toward Billy and the possibility of coffee. He looked so desperate that Billy almost started pouring before he was even asked.
There was a woman with a huge purse — at least Billy assumed it was a purse. Then there were three rich kids. Well, he had no idea if they were really rich, of course, but they were dressed the way rich students dress when going on vacation. They were two guys and a girl, and they seemed to move through the waiting room as a unit toward his coffee station.
When they came up to the counter, the first guy ordered cappuccino, and the other guy followed suit. The girl, who was tall and athletic-looking, ordered hot chocolate.
Billy moved to fill the orders. Ordinarily he’d have been tempted to mention to the girl that she’d made a wise choice — the hot chocolate was good, and everybody who had the cappuccino complained about it — but she’d looked over his head as she’d given her order. Clearly not interested in being chatted up by the help.
As the trio moved to take seats, Billy looked around. At least the passengers were all inside now and the doors were closed. He was starting to wonder if Mr. Randall had turned off the heat before he’d left. Maybe he’d been afraid Kelly would forget.
Kelly stood behind her ticket counter, looking very serious. Billy knew this was just her way of goofing around. She was technically in charge now, but that didn’t mean much. Billy and Kelly were both at the bottom of the chain of command, but she worked for the bus company and Billy for the coffee company, so she was the boss. The only other one there was Harvey, the mechanic. He was out back, probably gassing up the bus that had just come in. The others had called out for the day.
Then Billy had to shift his attention back to serving coffee and donuts for the last couple of passengers. One even ordered one of the frozen sandwiches that he heated up in the Radarange.
Then he heard the distant sound of a phone ringing. Kelly bolted from behind the counter and dashed back into the office.
After a minute or so, she came into the waiting room and looked around. "Is somebody here named Stephanie Monroe?"
The blonde girl looked up, frowning. "Yes," she said slowly. "That’s me."
"They want you on the phone."
The blonde girl went into the office, looking puzzled. Kelly hesitated near the open door, and then she stepped forward into the waiting room. Billy noticed that she had put on her bright green company tie and straightened her uniform shirt.