Drop #8: Big Trouble

The restaurant is crowded, filled with the same types who always eat there. One of the annoying things about being vegetarian is the insipid air veggies give off, especially when they gather to feed. Surely he won’t develop that face, will he?

Sam is already there, sitting at the small table in the little nook. He gets up to give Luis a hug, says it’s great to see him and you can tell he really means it. “I love this place,” Sam says. “They have the best fake ribs.”

“Yeah, I don’t get people who have something against mock meat.”

“What’s not to like?”

“Or those who don’t get why people eat it.”

“I’ll say. The reasons seem quite obvious.”

“So, do you already know what you’re getting?” Luis asks, sitting down.

“Yeah. But take your time.”

“Don’t need any. I always get the soup and a small order of chicken tenders.”

“Do you want to share a couple of appetizers?” Sam asks.

“Nah. That’s plenty for me. I don’t want to order too much.”

“Ok.”

The waitress looks allergic to everything, including taking their order: a small chicken tenders, two small soups, black bean fajitas and hummus with pita, which is first to arrive. They make quick work of two scraps of generic chit-chat before Sam suddenly becomes very serious, biting on his lip and rubbing his eye with the meat of his thumb. “I’m in trouble, Luis,” he says sullenly. “Really big trouble.”

“What’s up?”

Sam sighs, shaking his head, hesitant to go on.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I haven’t told anyone—I’ve been too embarrassed—but I need to get it out.”

“You can tell me, Sam.”

“Well…”

“Go on.”

“I have a problem with addiction,” he blurts.

“Addiction?”

“Yes, it’s just so strong and I don’t know how to beat it?” Is he going to cry?

“Oh my God.”

“It’s ruining my life, tearing me apart. You’ve got to help me!” He jabs a glance at Luis.

“What is it? What are you addicted to?”

“I’m embarrassed…I’m—”

“Just tell me, Sam. You can trust me.”

“It’s…no…no…”

“Just tell me, man! Maybe I can help.’

“OK then. It’s…it’s…hummus!” he says, grabbing a piece of pita. “I’m addicted to hummus and I just can’t stop.”

He’s played it well and now allows himself a laugh full of pleasure. “You’re a good man Luis,” he says, scooping up a large dollop.

Two carrot ginger soups arrive and a basket of dark bread is placed between them. “You should have seen how concerned you looked. Honestly though, I have been hitting chickpeas a little heavily lately. Maybe I should quit after this meal, what do you think?”

“Shut up,” Luis says, smiling. He had forgotten how comfortable it is to be around the guy.

“Hey, I saw John yesterday,” Sam says.

“He’s back from Buenos Aires?”

“Yeah.”

“For good?”

“Yeah. You didn’t know?” Sam has already eaten half his soup.

“No. I’ve been out of the loop.”

“He was with Nordine and Samantha, having coffee at Starbucks.”

“At Astor Place?”

“Yeah.”

“Of course he was.”

 

Sam finishes every crumb of his meal; Luis packs a third of his to take home. “You don’t use polystyrene do you?” he asks the waitress.

“Plastic, microwave safe.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” he says, looking for Chap Stick in his bag. He wonders what Beth had for lunch. He isn’t looking forward to the conversation he must have with her later but can’t postpone it any longer.

 

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

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