Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Not This Time
by Cristie Marcus
The waiter took out one of those nifty, crumb-collecting tools and in a few wrist-swaying motions, swept the white linen table cloth, depositing the knife-like device, crumbs and all, back into his shirt pocket. He placed two dessert menus down and asked if they'd care for coffee and perhaps an after dinner drink.
"I'll have an espresso," said James. "A double."
"Nothing for me," Sheila smiled.
She skimmed the menu, knowing full well she would not order anything more. The meal had been extraordinary, and extremely expensive.
"That was one of the best meals of my life. But, James, Honey, you hardly touched yours, you feel okay?"
What was going on with James, she wondered; he never suggested going out to dinner, let alone to a place as snazzy as this. Course after delectable course had been elegantly served; the attentive wait staff living up to the impeccable reputation of the world famous restaurant. Everyone in the in the dimly lit room spoke in "best behavior" hushed tones, separately sharing the extravagant dining experience.
The waiter delivered the espresso. James twisted a lemon peel then dropped it into the tiny cup, the aroma strong and bitter. Sheila sipped her glass of Cabernet. They'd emptied the bottle of her favorite, Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon—1996—Napa Valley Vineyards, which was not that unusual for them; but, Sheila did notice, James seemed to drink faster and more than she.
"James, are you alright?" No answer. "Hey, Sweetie, what's up? You okay?"
James kept looking down stirring his coffee as the organic raw sugar cube dissolved. Suddenly the top button of his shirt popped off and shot across their booth, followed by the middle two buttons. James lifted his face to Sheila, his eyes red-rimmed and earnest. Within seconds, his shirt ripped apart, exposing his muscular torso. Then his skin began to split open.
Sheila put her hand to her mouth. Before she could speak, James' heart burst out of his chest, landing, in the center of the table. A red circle spread out around it on the white, crumb-free, table cloth. The rhythmic lub-dub, lub-dub of the pulsating heart was the only sound Sheila could hear.
Shocked, Sheila sat expressionless.
Then James' guts spilled out onto the table and oozed over the coffee cup and silverware, coming to a stop before flowing onto the floor.
I don't believe you, was all Sheila could finally say. She stared at the heap of moist, glistening entrails and organs, amazed at the different colors and textures.
"Sheila, doll, I'm spilling my guts here," James pleaded.
"Yeah, James, that's what you said last time, and I'm not buying it. Not this time." Sheila slid out of the booth. "Now pick up your guts, pack them away and take me home."
Cristie Marcus writes all over the world, but lives in Santa Rosa, CA.
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