You

Shelby and I decided on Mexican for lunch and walked into a small diner off the highway. Ordering quickly we settled into customary small talk.

The bell above the door rang boldly and in walked a woman. I tapped Shelby’s hand rapidly and motioned with my eyes. She coyly turned her head an inch and her eyes a mile. Seating herself, the elderly woman threw her spiked leather purse aside and patted her purple hair daintily.

My jaw dropped as did Shelby’s. “What the–” I mouthed. She shrugged.

A moment later in walked a man. He appeared to be equally elder as the woman; bearded with a stocky build, he dressed in dirty farm overalls. Glancing around his eyes landed on the most visually interesting person in the joint. The woman turned her head on instinct, looking the new arrival up and down before locking eyes with him. “Are you Jezebel?” The man asked.

“Are you Carl?” Jezebel asked. He nodded and sat down opposite her in the booth. “You look different in your profile picture,” she said with a small, bitter smile.

“So do you,” Carl grumbled, grabbing a menu.

Shelby and I ducked our heads. “Dude,” I whispered to her. “Is this really happening right now?”   

“I don’t know,” she whispered back. “But if it is, it’s pretty cool.”

“You wanna eavesdrop?”

“Is that even a question?” She asked. Discreetly, we turned our heads again to watch.  

“So am I to assume that line about loving motorcycles was a lie?” Jezebel slowly unraveled her silverware.

“I to assume the line about liking older men was a lie?” Carl did the same but with far more aggression. “Anything older than you would be dead.”  

“Don’t you know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet?” Jezebel’s words flowed like silk.

“I guess not,” Carl frowned beneath his beard. “By the way, I’m taking back my offer to pay for lunch.”

Jezebel sighed. “Here I thought I finally found the man of my dreams: a rough and tumble go-getter; someone who likes to get his hands dirty.”

“Here I thought I found my dream-girl;” Carl spat back. “A woman who cooks well, takes care of her looks, and above all: knows her manners.”

Jezebel calmly sipped her water. “Chauvinistic pig,”

“Bratty old bat!” Carl’s beard quivered. “Look at your hair. How long did that take you?”

“About the time it takes to make a sandwich,” she batted her eyelashes. “But you hardly have room to complain. Ever heard of a razor? Your hands are covered in dirt and grime; when was the last time you bathed?” The couple glared at each other intensely, spitting fire with cold silence. Suddenly…

“Hey Babe, lets blow this joint.” Carl nodded towards the door.

“I’d love to,” Jezebel cooed, grabbing her purse. With that they sprung from their seats and rushed out the door, hand in hand.

The diner sat in silence. “Shelby,” I whispered, leaning closer to my friend. “Did that just happen?

“I don’t know,” she said. “But it’s pretty cool.” 

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Beauty and the Beast

We ran through the woods like bats out of Hell. I guess, really, that’s what we were. I held her hand as she pushed larger branches out of our path; we were covered in scrapes and bruises regardless. Dogs howled in the distance and we ran faster. We had to make it to the wall. I heard her cuss under her breath and move faster, nearly pulling me off my feet. She had always slowed to my pace when we walked, but now it was life and death and the pace needed to move faster.

I met Malery on the streets, literally. Down a small side-street, I headed home one dreary night and found her lying unconscious in the gutter. One of her feet had actually disappeared down a storm drain. Carrying her to my apartment I attempted to care for the stranger, but she recovered on her own by sundown only to frantically claw at the walls like a caged animal. Eventually she calmed down enough to believe I meant her no harm. Only then did she tell me who and what she was. Only then did I realize I loved her.

Light broke through the treetops as we reached our destination: The Wall. Built long before my birth I knew not what lay beyond. But I knew the unknown could never compare to what lay behind – the cruelty of man, only seen when facing something new and unknown. Something like Malery.

With one leap she closed the distance and climbed the brick monument effortlessly. Reaching the top she turned and looked down. I wished we could stay like that forever and I would never fear forgetting her face. I held back stiff tears as I looked from her eyes to the trail of blood from her mouth down her neck. I couldn’t believe she lost control and hurt someone. But the sirens outside my apartment early that morning left little room for doubt.

Trying to sound strong I looked up at her fearlessly. “You’ll come back, right? You said you wouldn’t die for me, but I won’t rot in prison for you.”

Smiling her small smile she nodded. “You won’t have to.” With one last filthy look back at the city we fled she silently disappeared over the wall.

I breathed a sigh of relief. I heard crashing from behind and knew the police were near. Tackled to the ground and arrested, I began my patient wait to be rescued by what had come to be known as The Beast.

Dating At Your Service

“Good morning,” Ami stood cheerfully waiting. Beckoned in by a hand she sat down in the only other chair in the small cubical that wasn’t occupied. The man she spoke to, or rather the man’s back, shifted but remained silent.

Ami bobbed her head in nervousness while waiting for her adviser  She strained over his shoulder to glimpse paperwork littering his desk. His head in his hand he scribbled this and that over one particular sheet. Ami leaned back, anxiety hushed. He was just running a little behind, she thought to herself.

Ami felt odd regardless sitting in the office overlooking the city river.  It had not been her idea to seek this place out. Her mother convinced her that it was her only choice. Only in her desperate age of thirty-five did Ami consent it was necessary to bring in… extra help.

Finally the man straightened. “Ms. Ami,” he began, looking over more paperwork. “I’m Mr. Ford and I’ll be assisting you in finding the perfect match for life.” He turned and smiled briefly. “Let’s get started then. I’ve looked over your application. Dealing with a woman at your age we will have to rely on other aspects of your person to find a suitable partner.” Picking up a clipboard from his desk he pulled from his pocket a pen. Licking the end he began filling out a form. “Height?”

“Five foot five inches even.”

“Weight?”

“Uh…”

“Declined to answer.” He wrote. “Education?”

“Public University majoring in Social Work.”

“Daycare worker…”

“Actually–” She tried to correct him.

“Employed?”

“I’m taking a break for self-reflection.” She attempted to hold her head high.

“Laid off…” he wrote instead. “Plastic surgery?” He looked her up and down, doubtful.

“I’m all natural,” she replied dryly. “Though I don’t–”

Mr. Ford clicked his pen impatiently and sighed looking over what he’d written. Ami frowned. The agency had come highly esteemed, but it seemed the biggest selling point was the agency’s fancy sign hanging outside the building. She felt unimpressed with the cramped room she walked into, the small cubical she sat in, and the worker who was responsible for finding her soul-mate. Because I’m too nice, she thought, breathing deeply. I won’t say anything.

Turning to his computer Mr. Ford typed rapidly, scrolling through what looked like lists of names. “How experienced are you with dating?”

“I’m sorry?” She asked.

“I mean, when on a first date, do you know what to do and not to do?” 

“A little, but I could use some pointers. I’m sure you are an expert on the matter,” she smiled in a sarcastic manner to his back. “So I will take my cues from you.”

“Do you have any specific requirements for men?” He asked next.

“Someone who also works in social welfare would be nice. We would certainly have much to discuss.”

“We don’t have anyone like that besides you. Here we are,” he double clicked on a name. “We’ve found a match for you: Fifty-five, pretty good looking with decent wealth. Your meeting will be at a restaurant just down the street – we always use it for first timers – that is formal without being stuffy. Arrive five minutes beforehand dressed in your Sunday best. Greet with a smile and a handshake, nothing more. He will order for you, most likely a salad judging from his preferences for women’s weight. Possible conversation topics he wrote down include…”

Unfortunately Ami missed the rest. Without a parting word she left the office, walking down the street to a small coffee shop next to the haven of first blind dates Mr. Ford spoke of and ordered a tall mocha.

Life was too short to stand for a man ordering for you after all.