May 20, 2024


3 min read

10:30 pm. Los Angeles. A production of “Zombie’n There, Done That” had just finished at the Three Streets Theatre and people were spilling out onto the Grand Avenue sidewalk.

I stood by the street sign, having a cigarette and watching the commotion, waiting for Linda to go do the bathroom. It was cold. Each time I exhaled, I was unsure whether I was blowing out smoke or vapor. I had decided that as soon as I finished, I’d go in and wait in the marginally warmer theatre lobby. My hands started shaking.

Linda walked out of the theatre just as I was taking my last drag. We locked eyes, she smiled. I took her arm in mine and we started walking down the emptying sidewalk.

“What did ya think? About the show?” she asked.

“Um. It was… inventive,” I said in reply.

“If by ‘inventive’ you mean ‘bad’, I agree.”

I smiled.

“Well, that’s good. If you had said you liked that show, I would have vowed to never talk to you again.”

She smiled.

“Don’t say that,” she said with a faux-pout.

“Seriously, I would have de-Mytwitface’d you,” I said, adjusting my scarf.

She stopped walking and slapped my shoulder. The reaction drew a chuckle from me. For a second, we stood staring at each other. She was searching my face for a sign that I had only been joking, which she found in the slight upward tilt the left corner of my mouth. She replied in kind. Fears allayed, we re-locked arms and continued down the street.

A few minutes later, we arrived at our parking spots. Our cars hugged the curb, mine behind hers, under a single street light.

We unlocked arms and faced each other. I hoped that in our moment’s hesitation, we would find a reason to delay getting into our cars and driving away. I asked her about work. She asked me about movies and music. She told me about how she used to play video games incessantly as a child. Then…

“How come you never talk to me about girls?” she asked.

Well, that was unexpected, I thought. “There’s nothing to tell.”

“There’s no one at all?”

“Nope, nothing but my career,” I fibbed.

“Ok, but you’ve got to have, muses right?”

“True, I guess. I don’t know.”

There was a lull in the conversation. I stood there looking at her, her skin tinged by the orange of the street light. What should I say? How much further would she push this?

“Well, I guess you’ll tell me when you’re ready,” she said, breaking the silence.

Another lull.

“What if I’m speaking to one of them now?” I asked.

A third lull.

“Hey, we should get someplace warm, it’s getting colder,” I said.

She replied, “Yeah, we should.”

“There’s the diner down the street. I hear they have awesome onion rings.”

“It’s nearly midnight. I should get going. He’ll wonder where I am.”

“Right. Okay. I’ll talk to you later, then.”

We hugged. She held on a little longer than usual. Inevitably though, we parted and I lit up and watched as she drove away. She waved at me as she turned the corner and zoomed off. I drew deep from my cigarette and pulled out my cell phone to check the time.

12:01 am. Los Angeles. I stood alone under a street light, smoking a cigarette.

My phone rings. “Linda,” says my caller ID.

Posted by Wordmobi

Edited: 10/13/2020

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