He flips open a menu. I slip a quarter
into the table-top juke box, punch up
"Thunder Road," try to remember
who died, who got married the last time
we saw each other. The waitress pours
coffee. He orders cottage cheese, fruit,
tells me he runs marathons now. I want
pancakes, bacon and eggs. I can feel
his eyes poking my belly, explain
"I still shoot hoops two nights a week."
He slides a card across the table.
The letters of his name are slanted
like the sleek curves of a sports car.
It says he's some kind of consultant.
Computers. Graphic design. I put it
in my pocket, stare out the window,
watch long lines of people burrow
into the subway. He adjusts his tie,
asks if I'm still trying to save the world.
I admit I run a group home for retarded
kids, that I started writing again.
The waitress asks, "Everything okay?"
He's still married to Janey,
their second child's due in June.
This time, he wants a son. I'm tired
of living alone. I miss Erica.
Bad. He shakes his head, says
"You're just not getting laid enough."
I laugh, ask "Does it show?"
All I know, is that when I get home,
open my apartment door and slide
my hand down the wall, it takes
longer each night to find the light.
When the waitress clears the dishes,
he points to his cup for a refill.
I pick up the check, figure out
my half. He stirs milk in, lifts
his cup with two hands. "My father
passed away a month ago. Bone cancer.
Got so bad, I had to force myself
to visit the last few weeks."
I reach across the table, fold my hands
over his, help him put the cup down.
First published in Skidrow Penthouse.