Uncomfortable

window-564287_960_720He stretched his legs until his knees locked straight.  He crossed his arms over his chest and lowered his chin and drew a line along his collarbone. He sighed, “I’m uncomfortable.”

“Would you like another chair?” The priest sat straight. “We could change places.”

He sat straight and pushed his hips into the back of the chair. “No.” He scratched his shoulder through his sweater. “No.” He sighed. “I make people feel uncomfortable.”

“Why do you say that?”

He stood up and walked to the window. He looked at the snowfall. “I’ve been told that.”

“Do you think it’s true?”

He turned and looked at the priest. “Yeah, it’s true.”

“How do you make people uncomfortable?”

He took his hand and reached below the back of his sweater and scratched the top of his shoulder blade, “God I hate sweaters.” He dropped his head to the back of his neck and blew a breath out of his circled lips. “I just say things that make people uncomfortable.  That’s all.”

“You do.”

He laughed. “I know.” He took his index finger and rubbed his right closed eye. “But do know why I do?”

“Tell me.”

He crossed his arms. “I’m so Goddamned tired of bullshit.”

“Well, perhaps you need to think whether or not your behavior is appropriate.”

He sat down. “I’m too raw.  I know that.  I get all that.  You know what I was thinking about?”

“Hmm.”

“You know when you were a kid and you saw how many times you could rub one out in a row?”

He laughed. “You serious?

“Yeah, of course.  Every guy did that.  Why do we have to pretend we didn’t?”

“Okay.”

“Well remember how you actually hurt yourself?  Like before you learned about lubrication? Remember that?”

“Where’re we going here?”

“All that friction!  Until you were raw!”

“And?”

“So I’m raw. My conversations are raw.  I was thinking about how my conversations rub against people’s conscience. I was just thinking about it today.  That’s all.”

“Do you think you should change?”

“No. I’m comfortable. I’m okay with me.”

“Okay.”

“You know what else I was thinking about today?”

“What?”

He sat straight. “Now this has nothing to do with sexuality…”

He interrupted. “Why do you feel you have to add a disclaimer?”

“Because I don’t want you to dismiss what I’m going to say and label it a gender issue.  That’s why.”  He stood up.  “I was thinking about the movie Reds today.” He walked to a book shelf and fingered the spine of a book.  “Do you remember that movie?”

“I don’t think so.”

1 (1)

He turned toward the priest in the chair. “Diane Keaton.  Warren Beatty. Anyway.  There’s this famous scene where Diane Keaton is looking for Warren Beatty.  She’s waiting for him to get off a train.  And when she sees him, it’s a big moment. And I know how she felt.  I so know that feeling on her face.”

“Okay.”

“Now the feeling doesn’t matter but I thought about the whole thing.”  He put his hands into his pockets and leaned against the bookshelf. “When I was a kid, I identified with women more than with men.  I knew how they felt.”

“Okay.”

“No. Not okay.” He mimicked the priest and elongated the O in the word. “I told you this isn’t a gender issue.  I’ve never felt like I was secretly a woman or that I was gay or anything.” He stood straight. “I’m just saying I was emotionally intense and other boys didn’t seem to be, so I always felt more …” he struggled for the word and found it, “kinship with women.”

“I understand.”

“I didn’t see myself in other guys.  I just didn’t.” He turned back to the window. “And then one day I did.”

“One day you did what?”

“One day I didn’t identify with women so much.  One day I saw the guy’s side of everything.” He sat down.

“Why are you so fidgety today?  You’re traveling the room.”

“I don’t know.  I feel uncomfortable with putting all this into words.  I’m just so Goddamned tired having to defend every emotion I have.”

“Do you feel I’m contentious?”

“No Padre.  Not at all.”  He laughed. “I’ve just had so many experiences lately where I’ve said something and someone contradicts it.  It’s fucking exhausting having to defend yourself every time you open your mouth.”

“Do you think you see conflict even when it doesn’t exist?”

He laughed.  “No!  And this isn’t about any of that.  Anyone with an opinion encounters opposition.  Well, unless they’re Kleenex.”  He shifted in the chair.  “My point is I thought about that movie today and I thought about how much I’ve changed.  I’m more comfortable being a man than I was.  That’s all.”

“Okay.”

“I think it’s helped me in my writing.  Seeing both sides.  That’s all.” He patted the armrests and rubbed the texture smooth. “This really isn’t a conversation I can have with people.”

“Why not?”

“Tell people I identified with women more than men as a kid?”

“I don’t’ see a problem.”

“An unmarried man in his fifties talking about all this shit?”  He laughed. “I’m too old to justify my life.”

“Who’s asking you to justify it?”

“The Goddamned world Padre.” He sat straight and adopted a slanted accent. “Hi!  When I was a kid I found my echo more with women than men!  I did!”  He laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“I think you’re defining gender roles too rigidly.”

“No.” He sat straight and pointed his finger.  His vocal tone was heated. “No we are.  Our whole society.  Things aren’t more fluid.  They’re more defined.  Now everyone is told to define themselves.  We’ve never been so restrictive. You say you’re a heterosexual male and you’re told to examine yourself and redefine everything with more rigidity.  That’s the world.”

“You think that’s true?”

“Yes.  I do.  Everyone is looking for definitions to everything.  We fucking label everything. Gender fluid?  We’re fucking defining something as fluid?  Can something that is in constant change really be defined?”

“Why do you have a problem with this?” The priest shifted in his chair. “I guess I don’t understand the problem.”

“Everyone is so uncomfortable being defined.  But they want to be defined as undefined. It makes no sense.”

“Does it have to make sense?”

“No.” He stood up.  “No it doesn’t.  Just things I’m thinking about.  Anyway, today I realized how much I haven’t changed.  And I thought I had.  That’s all.  I thought about Diane Keaton and I knew I was still just me.”

“Is that a good thing?”

He smiled.  “I don’t know.  I’m not all that comfortable with just being me.”  He looked outside and watched the snow cover the sidewalks.

On The Surface

“Jesus Christ! We’re painting this room grey!”

“Swirling Smoke.” Jack dipped the roller into the pan and traveled the incline until the roller was damp. He lined from baseboard to molding and rapidly smoothed the trek with hurried whisks. He bent to the pan and rewet the roller.

man-with-paint-tray-looking-up-at-white-wall-184314540-57c868465f9b5829f4ca3ea3

“Swirling Smoke. That’s ass. It’s grey.” Tim lifted his sweatshirt from the waistband and mopped the sweat from his face. He dipped the brush into the can, soaked it with paint, and edged the window. “And I’m stuck doing the goddamned trim!”

Jack methodically moved along the wall: roll, sop, whisk.

Tim set the brush on the drop cloth, grabbed the sweatshirt from the waist, and pulled it over his head. “What the fuck is this heat on?”

Jack turned and saw Tim pinching paint drops from the hairs that descended from his navel. “Quit bitching. We’ve got to get this room finished by the weekend. You bitching is just going to make it worse.”

“I don’t want anyone in here. I use this room. This room is mine. I don’t want anyone in here.”

Jack set the roller on the lip of the pan, pulled the plastic paint gloves off his hands, and walked over to the pack of Camels that balanced on an ashtray that sat on the floor in the corner. He lit a cigarette and took a deep drag. “Listen to me. This is our room. Ours. Just because I don’t use it doesn’t mean it’s not ours.”

“Fine.” Tim snapped. He grabbed the sweatshirt off the floor and used it to wipe the sweat from under his arms. “How long are they staying?” He picked up the brush and returned to the window.

“Just the weekend. Annie and Dave are coming Friday night and Joe is coming Saturday morning.” Jack exhaled and tamped the cigarette in the ashtray.

Tim pitched the brush at the drop cloth. “No fuckin’ way! Joe isn’t staying here! I can’t stand that sonofabitch!”

Jack silently walked out the room; Tim’s volume followed him into the kitchen. He withdrew two beers from the refrigerator and returned to the room. He handed one to Tim. “Yeah, he is.”

“No! He’s not!” Tim twisted the top and took a pull.

“Yeah, he is.” Jack took a long drink. “Now let’s get back to work. I don’t want to spend all day on this.”

“You fucking know I don’t like him. Why the hell did you invite him? You know I can’t stand him! Our house – our invitations. You should have asked me!”

“You want to know who I can’t stand right now? You. And you’re staying here.” Jack slid a smile on the left side of his mouth and then drew his mouth into a line. “Now are you listening Tim? Are you really listening? We’ve been on the brink of a major fight. For about a month. We can have it, or not. It’s up to you. But right now we’re going to paint this room. We can do it and be in love or we can be quiet when we do it or we can fight. You decide. But, we’re painting this room.”

“It’s kinda hard to fight in a grey room.”

“It’s Swirling Smoke.”

“You should have asked me.”

“I should’ve.”

Tim crossed his arms over his chest and leaned into his words, “There’s another option here.”

“Which is …?”

“We could fuck in the room and then paint it.”

Jack laughed. “As tempting as this is, we’ve got to get this room finished!”

Tim walked over to him. “On my side? It’s not a big fight. It’s a lot of little fights. And I don’t think we need to have it.  I think there’s stuff we’ve got to get over.”

“I don’t need to have it. But we’ve got to do a talk.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

Tim kissed him. “Paint then fuck?”

Jack laughed.

Tim bent down and picked up the brush. “Then let’s paint this fucking room!”

Jack laughed as he saturated the roller, drained the excess paint, and turned the corner and resumed his rolls.

 

(Photo courtesy of fthmb.tqn.com)

Finish

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“I don’t know,” he paused and licked his lips. His eyes darted around her living room and settled on her family pictures spinning in a digital frame. “I’m sorry. I can’t remember what I was gonna say.”

She shifted herself in the stiff-backed chair. “It’s okay,” she soothed, “take your time.”

He covered his forehead with his hand. “It’s the goddamned medicine. It causes short term memory loss.” Sweat began to bead under his palm so he dropped his hand onto the arm of the chair. He quickly lifted it off the fabric and wiped his hands on his trousers. “And sweat. It’s like I’m a pig.”

“I’m sorry you’re so sick. Tell me what to do.”

“Nothing you can do.” He tried to bathe the roof of his mouth with his tongue. The medicine caused dry mouth too. “Oh I just remembered. I don’t know why you didn’t come backstage. Or at least stay until I came out. I wanted to know what you thought of it.”

“I was overwhelmed.” She crossed her feet and tucked them under the chair.

“Did you at least th…” his voice cracked, “ink it was good?” He swallowed. “Jesus Christ, I sound like I’m going through puberty.”

“Honey, I didn’t hear the play. I only saw it.”

He squinted his eyes and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “What? I don’t understand.”

“I only saw how sick you were.”

“I can’t believe how sick I was. But I finished.” He began to cry. “I finished.”

“You did.”

“Was it obvious?”

She stood and walked and knelt beside the chair. “Only to me.”

“I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

She took his hand inside hers and pulled him into her embrace. “You’re going to finish.”

 

(Photo Edvard Munch)

Do This In Remembrance Of Me

20161130_broken-979x514He fumbled with his glove until he pulled it off his hand and reached into his pocket for his keys. “You beat me here today!” He walked into the room, flipped on the light, took off his coat, and hung it on a coat rack in the corner. “Come on in. Do you want some coffee?”

He listened to his own footsteps as he followed the priest into the room and began to remove his coat.

“Please close the door.”

He hung his coat on the rack. “No thank you. I’m avoiding caffeine.”

“Sit in either chair.”

He sat in the chair near the window and watched as the priest gathered a book and joined him in the sitting area.

“Let’s begin with a prayer.” The priest made the Sign of The Cross.

He made the Sign of The Cross and bowed his head.

At the conclusion of the prayer the priest began, “So tell me what’s going on.”

He looked at the ceiling and judged it a story or so. He looked at the wooden bookshelves that bound the room and the punctuated plants that decorated the shelves. He looked at the carpet and widened his legs. He pushed his hips against the back of the chair and sat erect. “I don’t feel God anymore. I don’t feel anything anymore. I can’t live life numb.”

“Tell me numb.”

He stood up and walked to the window. He looked at the sleet. “God I hate snow.”

“Hate isn’t numb.”

He turned around. “No. But you don’t understand. I’m not feeling the hate. I’m remembering it.”

“Tell me more.”

“I don’t want to remember me.”

“Explain that.”

He turned toward the window and slipped his hands into his pockets. “I feel empty. I’m not here. Not anymore.”

“Give me more.”

“My heart makes all the choices. And I mean the muscle. Congestive heart failure makes my choices. So I’ve got no free will. What I was. What I felt. What I did. I’m like a past tense verb. Everything was. I’m just an …. absence and … ” he struggled for the word until he found it, “and a remembrance.”

“And where is God in all this?”

“I haven’t a clue. You’re the one who’s supposed to know.”

“He’s here.”

“I don’t know I have the will to endure. I’m so afraid that was my last will and testament.”

“You do.”

He turned toward the priest. “How do you know?”

“Because I remember you.”

He turned toward the window. “Okay.”

 

(Photo courtesty of biblica.com)

Fodder

348s“I was here last week. I had the peanut butter chocolate pie.” He put down his menu and searched the tabletop for a spoon to stir his coffee. “This is the second restaurant I’ve been to in 2 days that didn’t give us spoons. What’s with that?” He vertically flipped his fork and stirred the sugar.

He perused the menu and spoke from behind it. “Why are you so upset today?”

He leaned into his elbow that rested on the table. He held his hand like a vice and pinched his temples with his fingers. He wiped his face from forehead to chin and settled his head on his palm. “Uh, I’m just fed up.”

“I think I’ll have the Elena Ruz.” He elongated the Z.

“I don’t even know what that is.”

“It’s under sandwiches.” He closed the menu and placed it on the edge of the table. “So. What’s going on?”

“I’m just having a bad day.”

The waitress approached; both men ordered a meal.

“So you’re having a difficult day.”

“Yeah Padre I am. Okay so. You know Frattallone’s on Grand?”

“Sure. It’s where I go.”

“It’s like the perfect hardware store. Anyway. So I’m in there looking for caulk rope and I see a neighbor of mine.”

“Okay.”

“Now this is a guy I used to hang with all the time. And I wasn’t in the mood to deal with him so I nodded and started walking to the weather stripping aisle.”

“Okay.”

“So he comes up to me and says,” he adopts a different voice, “Hey! Long time no see! How’ve you been? And I told him I’m okay. And he says, yeah I’ve heard about you being sick. Is everything okay now? And I said, yeah I’m fine. And I told him I was in a hurry. And he says, so the heart thing’s okay? And now I get mad and I said, I’m fine. It’s all good. And I just wanted to get away from him and he says, well, what was it? And now I’m livid. I haven’t heard from this fuckwit in a year. So I said, it’s a private thing. I don’t want to talk about it. And he acts all mad.”

“Maybe he was concerned.”

“I don’t care what he is.” He sat back in the booth and crossed his arms over his chest. “I don’t owe him the details of my life.”

“Did it occur to you that maybe he just cares about you?”

He sat straight. “You know what? I hung with him a couple of times a month. We texted at least a couple of times a week. I’ve had three procedures on my heart. Unsuccessful by the way. My Father’s been in the hospital three times this year. My Mother’s been hospitalized three times this year. Shit I’ve been hospitalized four times this year alone!” He punched the air with his index finger, “He knew it. All my neighbors knew it. It was in the Highland Villager. I haven’t heard from a single one of them! I had to hire someone to shovel my sidewalks, mow my lawn, and deliver my groceries. And they all know I’m sick. So you know what? I’m not providing the goddamned details of my life so that they can have something to gossip about. I don’t owe it.”

“I can see why you’d feel hurt but I think you need to realize that sometimes people can’t be what we need them to be.”

“You know what? I don’t need them to help me. But I don’t need to be their entertainment either.”

The waitress approached and refilled their coffees.

Her interruption made him regain the rhythm of his breath. “Look I had a redefining moment last month.”

The priest set his cup down. “Tell me.”

“So my play is over one night and I walk out into the lobby and I see my friend. He’s standing there waiting for me. He’s worked all day. Married with kids. Doctor. And I see him standing there. He took tickets for me that night. And I could see how tired he was. And I know he has to work in the morning and I thought, that’s a friend. Look what he gave me.” The waitress set their plates on the table, asked if they wanted anything else, and left. “So I thought about it. If he’s my friend, and by Christ he is, then that guy today isn’t. And I’m not treating them the same anymore.”

“Okay but does that entitle you to treat someone else rudely?”

“Okay Father, I don’t think it’s rude not to cast myself as the zoo exhibit. Show me in the Bible where it says I’m required to be the entertainment.”

“Let me ask you something. Which is more important to you, kindness or pride?”

“My heart’s too broken to offer every fuckwit a piece of it. I’m not doing it right now. I’m not.”

“As your spiritual advisor I feel compelled to show you your error.”

“I know you’re right Father. I do. But I’m not good enough to be that selfless. I’m not. I’m going with the Old Testament thing right now. The whole eye for an eye thing. Right now I can live with them being blind.”

“It’s not your place to distribute justice.”

He took his elbows and made a pyramid over his plate and  rested his eyes in his palms. “I know. I know. I know.” He began to cry. “I know,” he whispered.

“Listen Mark, I’ve known you for 35 years. Don’t become this.”

He looked up. “I’m trying man. I’m trying. I really am.”

“Try harder.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

(Photo courtesy of Yelp)

News Feed

Baby eating solid foods 1540She scooped the squash and swiftly spooned it into the toddler’s mouth.

He laughed. “Look at her hair!”

She took her palm and swirled the strays into a curl. She resumed spooning the food.

He stood up from the table and walked to the sink. “Do they still have those little toddler dinners? Oh my God, what were they called? Baby’s little bites?” He turned the tap and filled a glass.

She smiled at him while he sat back down. “Yeah, they do.”

“I just remember my boys picking up those little handfuls and trying to find their mouths! It was the best!”

“You have more energy today.”

“Nap. I can’t do the day without a nap.”

“I thought you watched the Vikings’ game.” She set the bowl on the table and grabbed another one.

“I watched one quarter and then went home. I was too sick. I can’t do social activities anymore. Well, not for a while.”

“Your body will adjust. Give it time.”

“I don’t know. We’ll see.”

“So, bring me up to date. What’s going on?” She took a soft cloth and wiped the spills off her granddaughter’s mouth.

He leaned into his elbows and created a pyramid for his chin. “Oh hell, I don’t know. You know the heart shit. Oh. Baby. I’ve got to clean up my mouth. I don’t think anything else really.” He sat straight. “Oh. I started spiritual direction again.”

“How’s that going?” She became insistent with the spoon. “Emma. Grandma wants you to open your mouth.”

“Oh we’re at an impasse. My spiritual director says I’m too black and white.”

She interrupted, “You are.”

“Could I finish?”

“Okay.” She smiled.

“Well let me tell you the story. I told him I’m not going to date anymore.”

“Why won’t you?”

“Okay,” he exhaled a sigh, “I think it’s incredibly self-absorbed to expect another human being to sign on to this death train.”

“Stop it.” She put down the spoon and rested it along the rim of the bowl.

“Okay fine. Sick train.” He stood up and leaned against the center island. “It’s too much to ask someone to participate in. It’s too much to even explain to someone who’s not emotionally in.” He stood straight and feigned a conversation. “Hi! Nice to meet you! You want to schedule a life around my doctor appointments and watch me walk from chair to chair? Oh we just met? I just assumed you’d think I was worth it.” He resumed his lean. “See?”

“I see.” She spooned a bite and offered it to her granddaughter.

“I’m not doing it. And don’t think I’m all altruistic. I’m not. I don’t think I could take that kind of rejection right now.” He stood straight and walked to the window. “Not right now I can’t.”

“I think you’re giving fear too much power. People are better than that.”

He turned to face her. “It’s not about being better. I wouldn’t sign up for it and I think I’m a pretty decent guy. But right now if I was offered a part in this whole shitshow? I’d pass. At our age, we’re dealing with parents who are ill or freedom for the first time since college. No way in hell I’d do this if a woman I was just dating asked me. And it’s not wrong. It’s not. It’s too much to give to someone I’m not invested in. For better or worse is one thing. For worse or this is as good as it gets is another.”

“What was your spiritual director’s response?”

“Well my version of his words? What’s wrong with companionship? Why not take each day as it comes?”

“I agree with him.”

“Let me tell you about the world. The real world. Last year when I got sick? The first time? People visited me in the hospital. The next 4 times I was hospitalized? The only visitors I had were friends on staff at the hospital. Not one other person. And those are the people who I thought were emotionally invested in my life. You know what it’s like to stand with an IV pole and watch the door? I’m not doing it anymore. I can do alone. I’ve done alone. I’m doing alone.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

He walked back to the table and sat down. “I don’t need you to say anything. There are no good words here. It’s okay. Jesus look at you!  She’s darling! You’ve got it all. This is the house you built. I’m just too late. That’s all. Want to know something funny?”

“Sure.”

“My spiritual director asked me why I chose to be a writer.  I thought about it.  Why do I write?  Want to know the truth?  The goddamned real fuc ..,” he stopped the word in deference to the child, “truth? I look like such a loser on paper. You know? I quit the seminary to help raise someone else’s kids. And my career never became what it should have. And I let two great women get away from me. And now I’m too sick to run to home plate.” He streamed his speech to control it. “I write because I wanted something to counteract that big empty page.  That’s all. See? Completely self-absorbed. ”

She stood up and took the emptied bowls to the sick. “None of that is true and even if it was that’s not self-absorbed.”

“The whole conversation is.” He stood up and looked out the kitchen window above the sink. “Is that a heated birdbath? I need to get one of those. I can’t believe how many birds my feeder attracts.”

“I bought it at the Highland Nursery. Wait until spring. They’ll be cheaper then.” She took a damp cloth and wiped the dinner from the child’s hands and face.

 

(Photo courtesy of nutritionnews.abbott)

 

Too Much Too

11“We weren’t at the wrong time,” she shook her head and lifted the wineglass to her lips. “There was just too much of an age difference.” She took a sip and set down the glass.

“My God that was ten years ago. I was a kid!” He laughed. “I’m still too old for you.”

“So, tell me about your heart.”

It was his turn to shake his head. “No. I don’t want to turn this into that. Let’s do the catching up thing and the reminiscing thing.”

He looked at pictures of her daughter; she heard about his play.

She interrupted him, “Was I in it?”

“One scene. I’ll send you a copy. I gave the only copy I brought with me to a friend of mine tonight. Did you want to order an appetizer of something?” He sat down his emptied highball. “They have great food here. I ate dinner here tonight.”

“No. I’m fine.”

“It’s so late. I’m really glad you came to meet me.”

She smiled and sat straight on the stool. “So why are you here? Explain it to me.”

“Well, I’m hoping to ghostwrite another autobiography. I don’t know if I’ll get it or not. And then I met with some investors. We’re talking about investing in a play and premiering it here.”

“That sounds exciting! Would you move to Chicago?”

“I don’t know. It’s all at the preliminary stages. The wallet guy likes how I write but he didn’t like the play. He thought it was too narrow to be a commercial success. But,” he stopped when the waitress approached and ordered another Manhattan. “So the idea is that I write another play. Something more traditional. And if he likes it, they’ll finance it. I told him I’d email him an outline when I get home. Which will be a feat because I haven’t one Goddamned clue what the play will be about!” He laughed.

“You’ve never had trouble with that.”

“Would you like another one?” He pointed to her emptied glass.

“Sure.” She reached across the table and patted the top of his hand. “So tell me. Who are you seeing? What’s new on the dating front?”

He saw the ring on her finger as it caught the light. “No one.” He sat back into his stool and crossed his arms over his chest. “I hate how I look with this weight. So I haven’t any confidence at all. And with the heart shit, I just can’t see getting a woman interested enough to want to join in on this death march.”

“Do you have anyone with you during all of this?”

“Well, my family. Of course. But no. Seriously I’m not seeing anyone. I was interested in someone but she made it quite clear she wasn’t interested in me. And that’s okay. And what the hell. It’s okay. I didn’t take it personally. I’m not me anymore. Not right now.” The waitress brought his drink and he ordered another glass of wine for her.

“How many have you had tonight?”

“I’m okay.” He took a sip. “I’m staying here. I just need to get to the fourth floor.”

“I’m concerned about your heart.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m drinking too much. I’m just so Goddamned depressed. And I can’t pull out of it.”

“Have you thought about getting a little professional help?”

“I am. I am seeing someone.”

“Good.”

“I’m so glad you met me tonight. I’ve missed you.”

“Have you?”

“Sure. You’re a big part of my life. I couldn’t come to Chicago and not see you. I don’t know if I’ll see you again.” His sadness caught his sentence in the middle of his throat. “Do you ever miss me?”

“No.” She rubbed his forearm. “I’m too busy to miss you. I work all the time and I have a husband who doesn’t like that I work all the time and I have a daughter I see 10 minutes a day.”

“Are you sorry you did the doctor thing?”

“No. I love it. I’m just busy. Nothing more than that.”

“I was a fool to let you go.”

“Truth be told Mark,” she looked into his eyes, “you never really had me.”

“I know. I was too old for you.”

“No. You were too much for me.”

“Let’s talk about something else.” He took a gulp of his drink. “What’s the rents like downtown?”

“Depends on where you want to live.”

“What’s wrong with Michigan Avenue?”

She laughed, “Well, you’d have to write one helluva play!”