By: Martin Bartloff
Senior-Tuesday, sixty-five and older, half off, Logan, my employee and I decide to go for Chinese buffet. The place is packed with senior citizens, like it always was on Tuesday. We pick a table then order our drinks "Ice tea unsweetened." I say. The waitress nods then points the pencil at Logan. "Swee-T?" She asks, remembering us. Logan nods.
We get up to pack our plates. Sweet and sour chicken, some seafood, spring roll, mushrooms, salad. My two plates are packed. Logan fills a bowl with soup for me, like he always does when we have Chinese.
We return to the table, Logan sits in front of me, like always. We stuff food in our mouths, sip tea. All around us people talk, eat, talk more. Logan talks about his weekend, upcoming college classes in the mornings. I talk about the shop, some blogs I'm writing and revisions I’m finishing.
From the time we got there I feel being watched, so I look around for familiar faces, customers I often meet there.
No customers, only some faces we see there every Tuesday. I talk some more about the shop. Logan gets up. "Be right back, getting some more food."
I sip my tea, suddenly see and feel those piercing eyes some tables away in front of me. She is about 70, maybe older, her head slightly tilted, her eyes gaze, staring holes in me, but more as if she is daydreaming, not really looking at me. Logan returns, more chicken on his plate. He talks more about classes as he sits down, but I feel her eyes still piercing right through Logan. I lean left, our eyes meet, uncomfortable I lean right. She is still looking at me, there is no mistake she is checking me out maybe? No way I think and slurp soup.
The waitress brings the bill, two fortune cookies. I lean to look past Logan again. There she is her eyes as big as an owl, right on me. Do I know her? I straighten; hide my face from her behind Logan’s. We talk about the food. Then I notice her getting up. I feel relieved, she is leaving.
We're almost ready to leave; I crunch on my fortune cookie. She walks down the isle, coming right by our table and veers closer. Oh no I think, not knowing what to think. I feel her eminent present, she stops just slightly past me, pads my shoulder. "Keep writing." She says her lips flat. She walks away, egg drop soup is running down my chin, I look at Logan, he looks at me, he is pale, like he had seen a ghost. "Where did she come from?"
I wipe my face, turn to look for her, but she's disappeared.