Glen Pourciau

First date for both of us after our divorces, noisy restaurant, can’t hear a word unless we shout. In the car on the way over we’ve agreed not to discuss the end of our marriages, tired of thinking and talking about them, tired of reliving the past.

The waiter brings our drinks and sets them down, bends over the tabletop to be heard and asks if we’re ready to order. We shout our orders, and he shouts them back to make sure he’s got them right.

He leaves us with our drinks and we both start pouring them down. I try not to smack and sigh after the first swallow, but she smacks and sighs after hers. As the drinks soak into us I see her eyes lock on someone coming from the direction of the front door. A tall man in a black turtleneck and black blazer is headed toward a table with a dark beauty, long hair, glowing skin, swaying breasts. No one in the restaurant could look at her without thinking of sex, man in a coffin would raise his head for a peek. The guy has a pompous look, neck erect, eyes lidded, nose up.

My ex-husband and Tanya, she shouts.

The room just got louder for both of us.

She takes a swallow from her drink, gives me a hard kiss and sits back with a thump. My guess is that she’s tried and failed to hit the reset button.

He can’t even do it unless he takes a pill, she shouts. Tanya’s little helpers.

Would you like to leave? I ask loudly.

I don’t want to feel like he’s chasing me out.

She turns for what she may intend to be a quick look, but her gaze lingers. I grip her hand and she turns to me.

My wife left me for a man with a lot of money.

I hope he doesn’t come in here with her, she shouts.

I see her ex-husband speak to a waiter and then rise from his seat and head this way. My eyes warn her and she senses what’s happening.

Look who’s here, he shouts, sounding almost relieved.

David, she shouts at him, this is David. David, my ex-husband David. She seems to want to look at him and not look at him at the same time.

I go by Dave.

I do too, I answer, shaking his hand.

Tanya saw you when we came in, Dave tells her, so I thought I’d stop by. What are you guys having?

Whatever they bring us, I shout.

He shouts what he and Tanya like to order, they love the bustle of the place, never a dull moment, great service, eat here twice a week, the waiters know them by name. He looks at me as if I should be impressed, Dave and Tanya, what a couple. I give him the blankest look I can manage.

Anyway, I don’t want to interrupt, have a great time. Good to see you, he shouts, moves away.

Did you know they come here? I ask since she picked this place out of three I suggested.

One of my friends told me she’d seen him here, she shouts, but it didn’t seem likely they’d come in tonight. What did you think of him?

Hard to say, I shout. I could tell her more, but who knows how she’d react?

We sip our drinks, noise roaring through us, and the waiter appears with our food. She clutches her knife and fork right away and cuts into her dinner, a thick piece of meat, medium rare, juice seeping from it. Her first bite is interrupted by loud laughter, and I see Dave and Tanya laughing and raising their glasses to toast a nearby couple. Their laughter seems to have grabbed her spinal column. She puts down her fork and jerks her chair away from the table.

Don’t do it, my feet have been on that road, I lean toward her and shout. You won’t forget it if you do.

She hovers in the void of her unmade decision, then moves her chair back in, head down, the rest of the world behind her.

Glen Pourciau’s bio accompanies his story, “Wet.”

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