What’s Their Story

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Jonathan Cardew - February Day 1

“What’s their story?”
It was a game the three of us played when we went out. Our subject could be someone on the tube, or standing in line, or the occupants at a nearby table. We’d gone to the new upscale Tex-Mex place, and our choices were as plentiful as the items on the four-page menu.
The targeted couple didn’t match. She was somewhere between twenty-five and forty, her long dark hair devoid of any highlights, natural or purchased. Her complexion was Hispanic tan and she wore stylish glasses, though the rest of her outfit was nondescript. Nothing meant to attract attention.
He was a cowboy, with thick gray hair parted neatly on the right, his button-down shirt tucked neatly in his jeans, and the requisite boots and belt buckle completing the costume. More noticeable was the volume of his conversation. We didn’t hear her at all; we could have answered his questions.
“I think they’re on a date,” My friend said.
We were seated in the middle of the crowded dining room. They sat in an odd corner booth for two a couple feet away. On our other side was a party four, clearly two couples out for a night on the town. Behind us, a group of six, and whatever they’d been doing hadn’t included deodorant. The cloud of BO made me comment, but our waitress thought I was talking about the drink she’d just handed me, Don Julio, Cointreau, salt.
“It smells so good,” she said.
I wasn’t sure about the date hypothesis. She didn’t seem into him at all. In fact, she seemed to be stalling. Maybe she was afraid of what followed dinner. I watched her, surreptitiously of course.

She nodded slightly to the cowboy, and took a bite of her dinner. One bean.
He continued with his story, pausing only to gulp his margarita. Eating, but not pausing to swallow the food before he spoke again. Splatters of his fajita visibly spraying “And then we went…”
She had her napkin spread carefully on her lap, her bag next to her in the booth, between the two of them. She had an aura of subservience about her. She never changed her expression, no laughter, no smiling, and it didn’t seem that he noticed that she wasn’t speaking. More space for him to fill.
“I think he’s her boss,” my other friend guessed.
“That’s creepy. Probably against company policy, too,” I said. Rules are important after all!
When she excused herself to use the restroom, he ordered more drinks and I followed her. In the bathroom, she had pulled out her phone, texted someone, and scrolled through Facebook or something. By the time I was washing my hands, she glanced at her watch, having not used the facilities at all. She followed me out as I exited, but used me as a bit of a shield and headed for the door.
He was still waiting for her when we left, and had ordered another round.

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