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