"I asked my sister to invite you because I have a proposition for the library, Mr. Harker," Amy said while spearing a cucumber and taking a small bite.
"Amy? What kind of prostitution are you into?" Brenda said.
"What kind of proposition?" I said. The sandwich I had ordered from Dotie sat on my plate untouched. All the walk to the diner, Brenda have talked nonstop about how much the town had changed, how it must look different to Any coming back after all this time. Not the diner, though. Dewey's Diner had the same formica countertops, the same tables of chrome and plastic, the same smell of grease in the air. Several people linisde had smiled and nodded at Amy and brenda. Even Dottie, the only waitress in the place, seemed to brighten a little seeing the sisters.
We ordered under the same wave of nostalgia. Brenda soaked in the attention while it bounced off Amy like bees on a battle tank. Dottie asked if Any wanted that triple chocolate sundae she always got. When Amy ignored her and ordered a salad, Dottie said that much be how she lost all that wight, saying, "But you look good, girl. You want ranch?"
Brenda kept up more chatter as we sipped water and when the food arrived Amy made her statement. A proposition.
I asked what kind of proportion in the flat monotone I did not mean. It was the voice I reserved for telemarketer sna library vendors. Those people who are selling something. The tone itself is an automatic brushoff. I felt rude and comforted at the same time. My body would react despite my thoughts straying to Chris and his dead cult leader father back in the genealogy section.
Amy put down her fork. "I work for a private firm looking to relocate some resources to this area. We live in area funding, helping to build where we go. Offering our services to local nonprofits, schools, libraries. I have an appointment this afternoon to talk with Reverend Moore."
"That's all interesting, but what are you offering?" I said.
"I thought you might were gonna get baptized," Brenda said.
"We were thinking computers. We could donate up to fifteen machines, all software included," Amy said.
Brenda said, "What if I get baptised, too? Again, I mean." When Amy did not answer, Brenda shrugged and tucked into her roast beef with side of au jouis.
"What company do you work for?" I said.
"Page and Brin Associates. We're a consulting firm. Nonprofits and companies."
"It's a very generous offer. I'm not sure we can help too much. Lord knows we've cannibalized all the computers we have, but state contracts limit what we can take and who from." I picked up a french fry and ate it dry. My stomach felt full of rocks and it left no taste in my mouth.
Amy said, "I see. Not even if they came as donations to your friends group?"
"Will Reverent Moore maybe baptise Little Major, too? It never said dogs couldn't get baptised…" Brenda wondered to herself, her mouth full of fries and bread and meat.
"The Friends often deal with cash donation or proceeds from the book sale. I can ask our lawyer, see what we can do," I said.
Amy smiled and I saw the sales person in her then. She glowed, showing off white teeth. It was fake, a light bulb rather than the sun. The kind of smile people use in pictures when they are sure they know which is their bad side and are wrong.
"I'm going with you to the church. You know Reverend Moore is single?" Brenda said and dipped her roast beef into the au joux.
To be continued...