I like this story, I like where it’s coming from and understand that you have a good command over the language. The flow is very good too. This is one of those unique stories that nobody writes.
-"...although the hems of his pants and the elbows of his jacked showed considerable wear..."---I think that’s Jacket.
Now I am going to get dirty: Just in case you want to make any improvements. You don’t need to, it is fine as is. This is just my opinion. I am not an editor and am probably wrong about half of the suggestions I make.
As I said the flow is good but I think the pace is a little off. It is more paced like a novelette than a short story. That may also be due to the fact that there are sentences here that don’t necessarily contribute in moving the story forward.
-"...academic enrolled at the university here in town, and that he often could be seen strolling around town with a backpack and a camera."--- Here you have gone out of your way by having your character, the waitress, remember of an instance, where she heard something from somebody else, about OTHER events that take place outside of the setting of the story. That is complicated, unnecessary and does not help move the story forward.Remember, Marc, this is a short story; every word must count. What if your main person did something within the setting of the story that revealed character and pushed the story ahead?
Another subject that I want to talk about is the characters. You have two characters here, and plenty of words, yet I don’t feel like the characters are coming through the best they can. I don’t really feel how he feels and don’t see what she sees. Why not point things out that all the readers can connect to. Maybe the waitress's nail polish is faded and chipped away? Maybe she is old school and keeps her pen on her year, or maybe not? Maybe her uniform is clean and well kept but her watch is old and cheap. After all she is poor not shabby! I hope you understand what I mean.
I think you chose a great setting. A diner! I was expecting and explosion sense. I don’t think you completely capitalized on that. There is ample opportunity for you to bring us, the readers, into the setting. This place probably smells of all kinds of foods. We learn later that you character was hungry. What if he could smell all the dishes that went by? What color is the uniform of the attendants? Is the diner one of those dark, romantic ones, or a Denny's type? Touching on the 5 senses will bring a lot of life into the setting and also let us be on the same page as you are, as far as the setting goes.
Overall, I like your work, even though I see more potential in you as a writer. If you choose to work on this story please keep me in the loop. I would love to review it again.
Thanks for sharing this story with me,
You are a good writer, keep writing.
Any short story writer's must-read: