Bullet train

February 10, 2010

Evan slouched on a bench in the restaurant foyer, already engaged in a barrage of text messages.

Carl held open the heavy glass door for Audrey to go in. They looked nice. He had put on a sweater. She wore her black pants and black leather jacket, which made her forget she’d spent all day in old jeans and a sweatshirt. Her hair was loose and shiny.

Carl approached the hostess as Audrey sat next to her son.

“Seafood platter,” Audrey said in a perky voice. “Butterscotch crème brulée.” No reaction. She was trying too hard. Evan managed a smile but kept his eyes on the little screen.

Carl turned around. He had a funny look on his face.

“What?” Audrey asked.

“Nothing, nothing. It’ll just be a minute.”

The hostess picked up three menus, turned toward them and smiled. “Bullet?”

Audrey shot a glance at Carl. They tailed the waitress straight through the dark dining room to a quiet booth with candles and hard benches. Within moments a basket of bread hit the table. They were silent until the servers were out of earshot.

“Bullet?” Evan said, barely controlling his laughter.

“Shoot me some bread, Mr. Bullet,” Audrey said, clipping her words.

“Certainly, Mrs. Bullet. Put your hands up.”

“Haaah—” Evan couldn’t get any words out, but his parents were composed, with their sights on the menus.

“I’m so hungry I could rifle through twenty-two entrées, Mrs. Bullet,” Carl said. “How about you?”

“Well, Mr. Bullet, I haven’t finished reading through the thirty-eight bullet lists.”

“You should order forty-four magnums of champagne,” Evan said.

Carl shook his head. “I think a barrel will do.”

Evan, who hadn’t smiled since Sunday, wished his brothers were there. Joe and Todd could’ve gone on all night about Glocks, AK-47s and M-16s. At this point Audrey announced what she really wanted to do was to ride a bullet train in Japan, and soon. Carl deflected the mood with questions about Superman and whether or not the Lone Ranger had ever killed a werewolf. Evan said it was unlikely due to the high density of silver.

As Evan hopped across the parking lot, Audrey said how wonderful it was that a small, innocent error could change the trajectory of a whole evening. Carl had to agree.

©2010 Pam Wells


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