At lunch, I sit down in the break room and see that I’ve got some unread texts from Kyoko. Today’s her day off so she’s painting again, more still lifes of spicy chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s.
How does this one look? she asks in the first text, which is followed by a picture of her interpretation of the “idealized” version of the sandwich seen in ads, the version with the giant slab of chicken housed between two expertly sculped buns.
It looks damn good to my eyes, so that’s what I text back to her.
Moments after I send the text, Kip walks into the breakroom and sits across the table from me. He squirts Italian dressing onto his salad and drops the bottle of dressing into the swivel-top cooler at his feet. He snaps the lid onto the plastic container holding his salad and shakes. The lettuce doesn’t make a sound but the carrots and cherry tomatoes thump against the walls of the container. As I read Kyoko’s next few texts, Moe and Walt stomp in, arguing about the Yankees and the Red Sox.
“Some fucking fans you are,” Moe says to Walt. “Make the playoffs every year, but it’s never enough. Twenty-seven championships, and it’s never enough for you goons.”
“At least us goons have standards,” Walt says to Moe, clumping heavily across the room and parking his giant ass into the chair next to me.
What about this one? Kyoko’s next text says. Spicy enough for you, professor? ;);)
The picture accompanying this text shows a crude pencil sketch of a couple fucking between the misshapen, deflated bun of a real-world spicy chicken sandwich. Turning my phone away from Walt and squinting at the couple, I see that the woman has the same hairstyle Kyoko had when we first met back in high school: shoulder-length chestnut hair, a lone braid resting on her left shoulder, a fancy bow of black ribbon tied around the braid. Scanning down the man’s body, I discover that he has a missing toenail on the big toe of his left foot just I like I do, a physical abnormality of mine that Kyoko finds both highly amusing and fascinatingly gross. Grinning like a fool, I save both pictures to my phone and start writing a text back to Kyoko.
“Look at this guy,” Kip says to Moe and Walt. “Somebody’s getting lucky tonight.”
All three burst into laughter at my expense, but I don’t deny their speculation. Instead, I shrug and finish typing the text to Kyoko.
now that one deserves to hang in the gallery, I text to her.
that’s just what I was thinking, she responds a minute later. how does friday night sound?
friday night sounds great, I text back.
friday night it is then.
friday night, I text again, unable to wipe the stupid grin off my face.
friday night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;););), she responds, letting me know she’s started drinking, and that Friday night is going to be a good one.
Steve Gergley is the author of A QUICK PRIMER ON WALLOWING IN DESPAIR: STORIES (LEFTOVER Books ’22). His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Cleaver Magazine, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: https://stevegergleyauthor.wordpress.com.