My lover and I went to Pizza Hut last week. They still had the booths sectioned off—smoking and nonsmoking. We chose the latter.
As we thumbed through the menu, we couldn’t help but glance over at the man in the suit across the room from us. He looked over 60 and wore a fedora. The way he held his cigarette indicated he had been chain smoking there for hours, with hours more planned. The half-eaten, deep-dish sausage pizza in front of him had long since cooled to room temperature.
I tried not to stare, but my lover looked on. In whispers, she informed me that the man was wearing red sneakers, the same shade as the hut-shaped roof of the building we all occupied. She watched as the man pulled out another cigarette, examined it, and chucked it over the booth wall.
A waiter approached the man and placed a basket of breadsticks on the table. Without looking up, the man lit another cigarette and reached for the hot bread.
Without looking back at me, my lover got up from our table and approached the man. He handed her a cigarette and lit it. She exhaled smoke, then inhaled a bite of the breadstick being fed to her from the hand of the mysterious man. He stood up and locked arms with my lover. They walked out together, their breath heavy with tobacco, garlic, and parmesan.
I considered rushing after them, but knowing her, she had already forgotten my name.