Wesley Hunt

Loam

The old man, seated in the chair, moves his lips because his hips can’t talk. They’re too old. Too fat. But he doesn’t think she sees him that way. He thinks she sees him as a mystery-father because she’s too young, too stupid, to know otherwise.

Her fingers trace the lip of the glass of the drink he bought her before she sat down next to him and she listens. Her eyes move with his lips and she waits for him to drink before she laughs—a little too hard and a little too loud. He touches her shoulder for emphasis. He wants her tonight, she thinks, naked and splendid.

My husband is a writer, she says.

I’ve never read a book cover to cover.

How did you get so smart?

Television.

She takes a drink and smiles and waits for him to do something daring. Something a man aware of the urgency of death would do. He doesn’t. He thumbs the tumbler in his hands in a way he thinks she may find sexy. She doesn’t. She doesn’t bother to notice because she’s thinking about the audiobook she downloaded last night, and the way it made her feel this morning when her lips felt loamy and hard to chew on. And she’s thinking about her husband and the way his lips felt pressed against her loamy lips when he left for work with a lunch box and tool box in hand—and how they didn’t say anything to each other all morning—not even goodbye, just a peck.

Do you ever feel like you’ve been chewing on dirt since you spoke your first word? she says.

He hasn’t, but, oddly enough his wife had a year or two after they’d first married and has tried to make him understand the feeling ever since.

Are you related to anyone famous?

No, he says, but I’ve been told I look like a young Harrison Ford.

When were you told that? she asks.

When I was much younger and looked like Harrison Ford.

She laughs but doesn’t smile, her eyes focusing on the tumbler in his hands reflecting a silverfish sheen on the crotch of his dress pants as a subtle rainbow.

Are you gay? she asks him.

No, I’m middle aged, and at this point it’s best to dress nice to distract from the fact of my dying.

She thinks he’s witty and she knows he’s read more books than he lets on, but she also knows he’s taken medication to facilitate his sexual performance, and this makes her horny.

Would you fuck me?

Probably.

Would you enjoy it?

Probably.

They’re both quiet for a long time until she laughs softly but with a smile. He places the glass on the bar and readjusts his pants. She traces her finger along the edge of her lip. He motions toward the bartender.

Good.

She leaves without paying. He stays until after they close, and the bartender has to call him a cab.

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