Silas sat at a picnic table with a quaint umbrella beside an aluminum carport and shoved his hot dog into his gaping maw. His dark eyes flickered along the line of patrons. The stainless steel stand was a regular fixture in front of the lumber yard on Sixth Street. Some people appreciated the wit of Pat, the proprietor. Magnets adhered to the metal sides of the trailer proclaiming, “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you,” and “Best hot dogs in this parking lot.” There was even a plaster dachshund nestled in a hot dog bun with ketchup and mustard on top. Others came for the premium ingredients that Pat used or the friendly smile from a man who prided himself in offering a quick, tasty meal for less than a fiver. A few years ago, the city had even tried to make Pat pay a ridiculous fee on top of his business license by passing an ordinance. Their reasoning was that too many food carts and trucks were hurting the ambiance of the city. The outcry from Pat’s regulars and a local AM radio station just down the street put an end to that particular piece of legislation.
Anne watched Pat pull a bottle of mustard out of a cooler and draw two straight lines on her monster dog, followed by a zig-zag line of ketchup. He produced a pair of tongs and dished out onions, tomatoes, and neon green relish onto her monster dog.
“Celery salt, and pepper,” Pat asked, the hot dog resting in an aluminum foil embrace. A boom box played hard rock softly in the background.
Anne tilted her head and rolled her eyes at Pat. “Oh, Pat, you incorrigible tease, you know what I like.”
Pat grinned and dusted the spices on her hot dog before carefully folding the aluminum foil and placing the package neatly on the table in front of him.
Anne opened her coat and reached into her red clutch. She offered Pat a five-dollar note.
“Meal deal?” Pat asked.
Anne smiled and nodded.
Pat stepped around the corner, and the telltale sound of a cash register sounded over the boom box. He held up a pair of quarters, but Anne waved him off and lifted the door and rummaged around to find a can of soda. She examined a selection of chips and cookies behind a plastic sliding door, eventually selecting a bag of name-brand corn chips.
“How exactly do you know Joaquin?” Silas asked after Anne sat at the picnic table across from him.