Gently Bitten

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Gratuity

"What's that?"  The young man holding the pot of coffee paused, pot held ready but not yet pouring.  Three of the four people seated there were staring at a napkin in the center of the table, with a big spiral drawn on it in black pen.

"It's a magic spiral.  They looked at it for too long, and now they're all hypnotized," said the young woman, the only person at the table who was *not* looking at the napkin.

"Uh huh," said the server.  He gave her a skeptical look, then filled the available coffee mugs.

The next time he came by the table, the four were as animated as any other customers in the diner.  He raised an eyebrow at the young woman... who raised an eyebrow back and nodded towards the center of the table, now devoid of any spiral drawings.

"What was that look about?" said the one guy at the table.

"Oh, he was curious before about the magic spiral," the young woman replied.

"The what?"

She ostentatiously took out another napkin and a pen, and began to draw.   There was something intriguingly fluid about the motion of her hand.  "The spiral," she said, in a suddenly quiet, low, calm voice.  "It goes down. Deeper... and deeper."

From the moment she began to draw the new spiral on her napkin, a hush fell over the table.  The server felt a tingle on his skin; a slight pressure in his ears, as if the whole room had gone quiet.

A noise from the kitchen startled him out of his reverie, and he realized he'd been staring.  He wasn't even sure what the last thing she'd said was.  She was still talking in that low, compelling voice.  But he hurried to the next table, somewhat anxious to get away from this one.

When the four diners had gone-- he noticed, across the room, that the spiral-drawing woman never touched her wallet when it came time to pay-- the server came over to clean the table and found a napkin under the tip money.  Drawn on it was a small spiral.  And a phone number.