A Cheap Red-Eye with a Sliver of Lemon Please

An excerpt from my novel I’m sloooowwwwllly working on, feel free to read some earlier excerpts here.


Sam looked out at the darkening horizon. She had been up since 4 am, stopped in three airports, been frisked down in security and curled her hair in a hallway in the Kansas airport. And yet she felt she hadn’t arrived yet. She was stuck in mid-air, her own halting hope that this dalliance was moving towards a relationship and her own nauseous fear that this dalliance was moving towards a relationship. She sat alone, surrounded by what looked like the who’s who of Washington, DC. Everyone seemed to have a wired ear and a Brooks Brothers suit on or be slithering towards one another in a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap and Jimmy Choo heels trying to look effortless and not succeeding. Her date had gone to the washroom and she realized there was nothing tying her here–not a reservation, not a phone number, itinerary, or address. She cringed as a voice in her head boomed: “Or boyfriend, get it? Get it? You just traveled across the continent for a date. Fuck this shit.” It sounded like a clip of dialogue from Entourage playing over and over like a film reel with a tick in it that wouldn’t let go.

Her instincts twitched around her ankles, shifting down to the tips of her toes, then back to her heels. She crossed and uncrossed her legs. She was like a runner at the beginning of a race only she was in Valentino, not leaning over her knees on a track but in a velvet booth casually leaning back as though she had not a care in the world.

Run. Run. Run. 

“There you are, I didn’t realize you’d snuck back to the table. Here are two more, just in case that first one didn’t hit the spot.” He placed the oysters on the table in front of her, their opalescent innards shaking slightly in the candlelight. He put his hand under the table and slipped it over her kneecap. She leaned into it; she wasn’t brave enough to go in the other direction.

“I am sorry, I can’t eat these. I really…I..” she stuttered while gently pushing the oyster towards him.

“But you just sucked that one back like –”

She cut him off so she wouldn’t have to hear him finish the sentence. It was easier if she just spoke the lines. His dialogue became so much better if she wrote it.

“Like a woman who is desperate for dinner!” She smiled encouragingly up into his face and pushed the menu into his fingers. He suddenly put his fingers up to her neck and stroked her skin. His hands seemed immense. Could he circle his fingers around, index to thumb, if he tried? She didn’t want to think about it. His largeness was something she always wanted to step away from, as if by sidestepping it she could avoid the truth which was she wasn’t attracted to him.

As she looked at the menu and concentrated on what she could stomach, she tried to ignore the fact–which now seemed to tap on her shoulder repeatedly like a kind of holier-than-thou referee–that all this might amount to was a cheap red-eye in the middle of the night.

“Martini. Dry. Sliver of lemon.” It was a perfunctory order that she softened with a smile. She slipped her hand into his, her small fingers disappearing into his oversized palm. She decided to just enjoy the view out over the city, the taste of expensive appetizers, a doting waiter and ice-cold vodka. She closed the door to her internal analysis and stepped into the make-believe world she willed to be real.

And he would come along with her. They always did.


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