Robb Todd


She said, “Life is what you fake it,” and I hated her for that, for being right, for being smarter than me, so I scraped my fork across a yellow bubble of yolk, watched it ooze, and said, “Tomorrow is as meaningless as yesterday.”

“Shut the fuck up with the Buddhist, in-the-moment crap,” she said. “And eggs are disgusting, you filthy embryo-eater. How can you eat that shit?”

She stabbed a piece of melon with her knife, flashed her teeth like a growling animal and sunk them into it to make some point that was over my head. Or maybe it was under my head—I never could tell which way was what with her. I ran a thumb over the bite mark on my neck.

An old man with a long green beard, floppy hat, and rainbow socks pulled up to his knees walked past the cafe window pushing a dog in a baby carriage. The dog was wearing a hat, too.

“Why don’t you ask your dad to join us?” I said. They stopped speaking a long time ago.

“1998 called. It wants its joke back,” she said. She waved and said, “Hi, Dad!” He waved back. She was not wearing a bra and I could not keep my eyes on her eyes.

“‘1998 called’ jokes are so 1988,” I said.

She flicked a piece of melon at me. It bounced off my face and landed on my plate next to some strange foreign sausage.

“This is the best tasting thing I’ve ever eaten that looks like a turd,” I said.

“Look, you can go now. I want to be alone—and the sex wasn’t that great, but I’ll pick up the check anyway,” she said. “You need to work on your game some before you drunk-dial me again.”

“My omelet game is on fire right now,” I said. “You should’ve let me cook instead of coming to this joint. We’d still be naked.”

I learned a few tricks with cream, the way you whip the eggs, and the heat. The heat is key. It has to be almost all the way up and the eggs have to float on a searing puddle of clarified butter. I cracked dozens of shells for practice.

“Yeah, and about being naked. When was the last time you went to the gym?” she said. “Don’t ever bring an egg into my house, you dirty pervert.”

I flicked yolk at her with my knife. She slid a finger over a golden drip on her cheek, held it up and licked it off with a slow tongue. Shadows from the painted letters on the window cut across her face, one eye hidden in the bend of a C, one radiating madness in the light. Finally, I was able to stop looking at her tits.

“Why do we keep doing this?” I said.

She groaned and looked at her plate, rearranged the fruit with her knife, and shooed me away with it, eyes still down, blade pointing at the door.

On the train, the conductor said, in a smooth, sexy radio voice, “Thank you for joining us on this downtown A experience. Have a unique and wonderful day, and a comfortable, cozy weekend.”

A woman covered her ears at every stop, like the announcements would make them burst. Another woman hid her face with a book called “You Can Overcome Insecurity.” Reading it in public must have been part of the process. I scanned a row of boots across from me, in line like soldiers, more Harlem than Columbia. Studs and straps and knee-highs and buckles. I thought about screaming or typing words and sentences, or maybe just random numbers, but did not.


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