I walked into the restaurant at a quarter-past eleven and found the dining room scarcely halfway full. There was a little placard stuck up on the wall, oily-looking, that told me, please seat yourself, and I did as it told. I quickly espied my dining companion one booth from the corner – the corner nearest the front window, hung with an oversized mirror, silver-plated and undoubtedly a garage sale centerpiece in its time – and she, my companion, was looking quite unruffled in a black bucket hat and black wooly scarf.
I tipped my head in greeting and gave a small smile, very naturally, before sliding opposite her into the booth. She was smiling pleasantly, though I’d have bet she was wearing precisely the same expression a minute, or sixteen minutes, prior, alone with her newspaper in the little booth; and now she was giving me a look through a pair of huge black owl eyes rimmed in wire-frame glasses, and the look was so purely luminous that it took a sudden coughing fit on my part to pull my gaze away.