“She offered me an apple, but I said no and she started eating it herself.” Eddie’s voice got soft as feathers.
“This isn’t going to be about Adam and Eve and Eden?” Scooter raised his hand to the waitress to ask for another beer.
“Heck, no.” Eddie smiled at his own euphemism. She was already having an effect on him. They had sat on the same park bench, and she took out a paper bag to eat her lunch. The band in the park was playing “Till There Was You.” The smell of grass and clover floated on the breeze. Her lips were shiny with the moisture from the apple. Eddie asked Scooter, “Do you believe in soul mates?”
Scooter sucked his teeth, looked around the bar as if considering it, and said, “No.”
“Now there’s the difference between you and me.” Eddie upended his bottle. “I’m always searching for my Beatrice, my Juliet, my Penelope.”
“I knew those girls,” Scooter said. “Went to high school with them. Beatrice was qitch. Juliet was her sister. Penelope, well, she was the queen bitch.”
“I opened a bag of potato chips and offered them to her, and she took one, very delicately. I’m going to sit on that park bench tomorrow.”
“I hear it’s going to rain.”
“I’ll go there the next day, and the next, and the next.” Eddie made a circle with his finger in the wetness on the table.
“You poor sap.” The waitress brought Scooter another Michelob.
“She was reading Proust.”
“An intellectual. Even worse. When I dated Shelley, she was always correcting my grammar. I couldn’t say something was 'very unique' because it didn’t take a modifier.”
“Shelley was very pretty.”
“She was very smart.” Scooter barked a laugh. “Very unique.” He waved in front of his face, as if there were a fly. “She always wanted me to take her to the Radisson.” He looked around at the televisions mounted on the walls, the fake moose heads, the dented signs, the photographs of jolly people sitting at happy tables. “Gilligan’s wasn’t good enough for her.” He held the cold bottle in his hand without drinking it.
“I never heard her say that. She probably just wanted to go to the Radisson just once.”
A kind of sadness passed across Scooter’s forehead. “Yeah, well, those times are gone. What’s the pretty girl’s name?”
“Daphne Brotkowski. She said she wants to be a writer for a magazine, National Geographic.” Eddie finished his beer.
“She’ll never be home.” Scooter felt the cold of the bottle in his hand. The bubbles fizzed up to the top and disappeared.
“Soul mates cannot be parted, no matter how they’re separated.” Eddie paid his check at the register and left dollar bills for the waitress. He walked out the door; the orange sunset glowed around his silhouette, and the door closed. Scooter stared at his beer. He sat at the bar trying to remember what he was attracted to.