“Are you happy at home?”

It was easier to feign ignorance than answer the question.  “What do you mean?” she asked, wondering if her plight was that obvious.

David took a swig of beer and looked away with a smirk.  Fortunately for her, he had the same trouble maintaining eye contact.  “I mean, shouldn’t you be home making dinner for your husband instead of drinking in a bar after work?”

It was a reasonable question, but she recoiled.  He had an amazing way of repelling her at the oddest moments.  She sighed.  He did have a right to know why she came.  Fitting, she thought, that he should bring her to a place named after the most famous American courtesan of the nineteenth century.

Instead, she went on the offense.  “Do I look like June Cleaver?”

He scanned her briefly and flicked his eyes back to the game on television.  “Clearly not,” he snapped.

Irritable and impertinent.  She wondered if he had any redeemable qualities.  They sat in silence for several moments before he asked if she wanted another drink.

“Why not?” she replied.  It was better than going home to her empty apartment.

She wanted to light up a cigarette, but remembered she had quit the year before.  Without a task to keep them occupied, her fingers began to drum on the table.

“You seem a little anxious,” he said, taking out a tin of snuff and tucking a wad of it behind his lower lip.  Apparently she wasn’t the only one with a hankering for tobacco.  She watched with fascinated revulsion as he discreetly spat into a paper cup.  What would Lillie have done, she wondered, looking around for a spitoon. 

“I thought only baseball players chewed tobacco,” she said, nauseated.

He corrected her. “This isn’t chew; it’s dip.”

Nothing reminded her less of dip than the brown sludge gathering in the cup.  Suddenly her desire to taste the inside of his mouth flatlined.  “Maybe I ought to go home,” she said weakly. 

His eyes glittered a moment before turning matte.  And suddenly she understood.  He was trotting out the very worst of himself for a reason. 

She spoke defiance just as fluently.  “On second thought, I’ll stay.”


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