New Yorkers

I

     They sat next to each other at the bar.  Once their burgers arrived they each poured ketchup on their plates by expertly thumping at the number fifty-seven mark, and  then neatly placing the cap back on the bottle and the bottle back in the caddy.   In a delicate  voice with carefully enunciated speech, she asked for a spoon and scooped out some Grey Poupon.  He grabbed his burger with both hands and took a great big bite.  She nibbled at the broccoli and exclaimed at how delicious it was.  He ate without speaking and she sipped her wine.  This really was very good broccoli!  He wolfed down his burger, not a crumb missed his mouth.  She finally sliced into her burger after removing the top of the bun, and placing it on top of her onion rings which were on a separate plate.  She avoided the underneath bread and meticulously stacked her fork with meat, blue cheese, and mushrooms, dipping into the mustard and then into the ketchup before stuffing it into her mouth.  It was difficult for her to chew.

II

     After the movie, she reasoned that it was a lovely evening so why not just walk for a while.  A young man struck up a conversation, while she didn’t feel compelled to reciprocate after a few awkward moments she resigned herself to being cordial.  “I like your hair.”  “Thanks”  she said.  “Do you have African in you?”  “Yes, I’m black.”  “What? Black?”  “Yes.” He seemed taken aback by her answer as if this was the last thing he’d expected despite his initial observation.  They shared small facts about themselves with one another, what they did and where they were from.  “Oh so you’re gonna go home and write about this?”  He said once she told him she was a writer.  “Well I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to do so” she admitted, to which he exclaimed “I don’t inspire you?  How about we add an element of passion to our story?  Lots of kissing and making out, that’s what we need!  See this is what life’s about, meeting people and creating passion and making stories come true!”  He worked himself up into putting his arm around her shoulder, where it remained stiffly and clung hopefully.  “I’m feeling really comfortable with you.  See this is where we’re going.”  He pointed to the left across the street.  She wriggled out from under his arm and took a step forward.  “This is where you’re going,” she laughed.  “What?  You’re not coming home with me?  You bore me as a writer!”  He shouted to her back as she crossed the street.

III

     She floated through the wide streets swallowed by the grinding noise of garbage trucks crushing and workers constructing.  Suffocating grey filth filled her nostrils, stifling the breath in her throat.  She waited at the light.  There was a man at the corner.  His raisin skin had smooth deep grooves.  He wore a three piece suit, a tweed hat, and steadied himself with a cane.  It appeared as though he had shrunken in the suit over some years.  The ends of his pants were ragged and dusty from dragging on the ground.  His sandals exposed his toes and she couldn’t help but to notice the toenails; long, yellow and twisted with the look of something leaping, they were all but alive.  In his other hand a cup of change jangled.  His dark clouded eyes pierced her and she reached into her purse and felt for money, as she shoved a crumpled bill into his cup she noticed the other woman.  The woman’s hair shone white-yellow and hung straight down to her shoulders.  The last of the day’s sun caught on diamonds and they glinted as she tossed her hair and glanced down the street impatiently.  Her face was pharmaceutical perfection painted eyes and lips and stretched rosy cheeks.  Fair skin blended with taupe suit with nude colored strappy sandals finished off with brilliantly painted toes.  Her eyes were capable of taking in only that which she set her gaze upon and there was no acknowledgement of others in her presence.  She stood there with an enormous designer handbag tucked into the crook of her bony elbow, balanced on tip-toes and stiletto heels.

IV

     A girl walks into a bar.  He sat at the end of the bar reading, and sipping his beer.  He watched her and she didn’t see him.  Suddenly she was aware.  “Another?”  She motioned towards his soon to be empty glass.  He cleared his throat, “yea sure,” his wide bespectacled gaze met hers.  She tilted her head, “what are you drinking?”  She turned and as she walked her shirt slid down; one naked shoulder, her lean back, the curve of her ass and down her long legs.  He felt soft warm skin and breathed heavily.  Completely nude, she turned and caught his stare.  His eyes darted to his phone and he cleared his throat.  A warmth crept up from behind her ears and the corners of her mouth pinched as she almost smiled but then stopped herself.  He looked back up and she regarded him with a cool gaze, before looking away.  She caught her reflection in the background mirror feeling exposed and transparent under the bright lights.  As she paced back and forth she felt his eyes, it became comfortable, expected, desired.  She became aware of herself smiling, reaching, bending, licking her lips.  She noticed his large well manicured hands and looked away.  Two friends joined him.  Boisterous large men, with the air of those who spend a lot of money and take making it for granted   Tomorrow they had forgotten each other.

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