“Have you ever gone to an Emergency Room to simply read?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “Have you?”
“Why would you do that?”
“It was closer than the library. I never went there again because of the noise. All the coughing and yelling, sirens, wheelchairs. People bleeding. You know. The usual stuff. Anyway, I just wanted to see what it would be like. No one bothered me either. The place has a wave-like feel, lots of people and activity, then the wave breaks and there’s nothing going on. Goes up and down. The people who work there are either busy or not. Either way, I think that because they see people in trouble everyday, it’s not as dramatic for them as it is to someone who doesn’t work in that environment.”
“Why are you telling me this mad tale? Who are you and what do you expect me to say?”
He shrugged. “Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?”
“IS there a weird place to read a book?” she asked.
“I think so. Maybe under a car, in a washing machine. Something like that.”
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“No one knows,” he laughed, and ran his fingers through his thick blonde hair. “When I was a lifeguard, all I could think about was reading but, well, you do have to keep your eyes on the ocean. There I was, sitting on a great tall chair, in the sun, on a beautiful day…without a book.”
“Mmmm,”she muttered. “I get that.”
“Where are you from?”
“How do you know I’m not from here?” she asked.
“No one’s from here. You sound like you’re from New York or Chicago.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I don’t have an accent,” she said, flatly. “You do.”
“I’m sure that’s true, at least to you. Do you say dawg, instead of dog?”
“Who ARE you and why are you talking to me?”
His blue eyes sparkled. “You look…interesting.”
“Interesting? What the…what is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that you look like someone I want to talk to, or with.”
“Yeah, I don’t think so.”
“I can’t afford to walk away when I find you so fascinating.”
“I thought I was interesting.”
“I think I hate you and I don’t even know who you are. I could have read three chapters in my book, if you weren’t here.”
“Hate is better than not feeling anything.”
“No. Believe me, it’s not.”
“Do you surf?”
“Do I look like I surf?”
He looked at her. Then he looked at her some more.”
“You’re quick,” she snapped. “Why don’t you go find a nice ER and bother people there. You can distract them from whatever’s wrong with them.”
“Do you have a German Shepherd?”
“You look like someone who would have one, that’s all.”
“I look like I have a German Shepherd? How? How does a person look as if she has a German Shepherd?”
“You remind me of Wonder Woman.”
“Wonder Woman DID NOT HAVE A GERMAN SHEPHERD.”
“No, but she should have.”
“Are you trying to make me punch you in the face?”
“Is that what you’re thinking of doing? You could always get up and leave,” he said, just as the waiter put a large order of fries and mozzarella sticks in front of her. “Oh, great, I love fries and sticks,” he said, reaching for them.
“Sir,” she said to the waiter, looking at his name tag. “I man Brian. Can you PLEASE make this man go away.”
Brian looked at the man and smiled. “No. I can’t. Sorry,” he said, and walked away.
“Well,” she said, standing up, shoving her book into her canvas bag. “Enjoy the food.”
She started walking past him and he grabbed her hand. “Don’t you want to know why he won’t tell me to leave?”
“Truthfully, I couldn’t care less. I don’t play games. And if you don’t let go of me I’ll break your wrist.” He let go. She grabbed a hand full of fries and walked out.
“She does’t know who you are,” said Brian, circling back.
“She does not,” he grinned. “How amazing is that?”
“If she looks up, when she’s on the strip, she’ll see your face a thousand feet tall. Her name is Casey Smith, by the way. I heard her talking to someone the phone when she came in. She’s staying at the Aria,” he said.
“Perfect. I’ll send a ticket over, for tonight’s show. Do you know how long it’s been since someone hasn’t recognize me? I’ll send flowers too.”
“I think she hates you,” said Brian.
“I’m going to change that.”
“There are ten million women who want you. You can have your pick. You’re the greatest rock legend who ever lived,” said Brian.
“I’m not. But I’m not bad,” he laughed.
“What if she doesn’t show up?”
“I’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m sending a backstage pass, so I’m hoping she’ll be curious enough to be there.”
“Her dog’s name is Brutus. That’s who she was talking about on the phone. She was checking to make sure that he was okay.”
“Brian, you are amazing.” He put five one hundred dollar bills on the table and said, “See ya, Bri.”
“Yea, see ya, man.”