Illustrated by Michael Paul
“It’s a great release. You know, getting in the gym and exerting your dominance,” said the crimson beauty across the table from me. She sat, legs cross, with a plate of wintergreen lettuce leaves in front of her.
“I can only imagine,” I said.
We sat in the middle of a compact Italian restaurant, tables nearly bumping up against each other. Waiters constricted their bodies to maneuver between tables and deliver dinner plates. One faulty move would really stain a meal.
I checked my watch, which read 8:42. Thirty-nine minutes. “I need to use the restroom. I’ll be right back.” I shot her a smile. “Don’t go anywhere.”
She chuckled as I departed the table and entered the bathroom, outfitted with a single urinal and stall. Mold covered what I assumed was the sink. I walked over to a urinal, unzipped my pants, and mimed urination.
A tight forty-five minutes is all you need for a first date. With short silences taken for gobbling down food and a scheduled three-minute bathroom break, that leaves about thirty-six minutes to get through the mind-numbing small talk and learn just enough about the other person without leaking information that would be detrimental to any future relationship. This could be a future marriage opportunity that need not be spoiled by revealing my history as a drug addict on the first date.
I glanced at my wrist, perched above the urinal, and saw my watch read 8:45. Forty-two minutes. I jerked off invisible urine, zipped up my pants, and walked to the exit. As I exited, I walked through the threshold of peace and serenity to anarchy and mayhem.
“What the fuck,” my date screamed. Her black mini dress was tarnished by tomato sauce.
“I’m sorry, miss,” a waiter said. “Can I—”
“What the fuck,” she screamed again. She threw a glass to the ground, shards of shattered glass littered the floor.
Oh no. I glanced at my watch. It read 8:46. Forty-three minutes. I rushed over to my date, weaving between on looking patrons and cramped tables. “Hey, Miranda, let’s just get out of here.”
“No.” She smacked me across the face and pushed me back. “I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving until I unload on this fool.”
“Ma’am, I apologize. I’d be willing to give you a free dessert if you will just relax,” the waiter said.
“I don’t want a damn soufflé. I want you to suffer.” Miranda pounced on the waiter, her hands wrapped around his tiny throat. She constricted his throat, tightening her grip every second. Many civilians yelled at her to get off, but she didn’t register the pleas. I glanced at my watch. Forty-four minutes. I looked behind me and saw the exit. My gaze held on the door for a couple of moments, with the wails of shrieking civilians bringing me back to the scene. I rose to my feet and rushed to Miranda, attempting to rip her from the young waiter. Her grip didn’t loosen, like that of an anaconda around an animal corpse.
I retrieved my phone from my pocket and held it in the air. “Let go, or I’m going to call the police.”
Miranda stopped jerking the boy’s neck. After a moment, she let go and rose to her feet. The look on her face was that of Sissy Spacek in Carrie: deranged, bloodthirsty, still hot. “What’d you say?” Her pupils were constricted to the size of a pinpoint.
“I said I’d—” My response was interrupted by an uppercut. Her knuckles thrusted up against my nose, blood spurted onto her pale fist. I flew back onto a nearby table, crashing through an elderly couple’s dinner. My hands were drawn to the crimson mask on my face. I felt around the warm liquid and tasted it, to be sure. It was definitely blood. Just as I realized I tasted my own blood, I passed out.
“Hey, wake up, bub.” The old man, whose dinner we ruined, was kicking at my head. “Wake up.”
I sat up and searched the establishment. I looked to the old man with a quizzical look.
I motioned for the old man to help me up.
“Good luck with that one,” the old man said. He helped me to my feet, and I started to Miranda.
Along the way, I had to maneuver broken tables and chairs, collections of different sodas, and a smorgasbord of ruined meals. I could smell something burning in the distance. As I got closer, Miranda’s words came into prominence. Her shrill shrieks could break the sound barrier. I exited the restaurant and found Miranda handcuffed over the hood of a police cruiser. Many citizens and police officers surrounded the front of the restaurant as Miranda continued to monologue.
“I’m going to burn this Mickey Mouse club to the ground. Your only hope is that a passerby urinates on the pyre left in my wake.”
A rather burly officer grabbed her and threw her into the back of the cruiser. His partner entered the car. The officer began to walk around the car, until I tapped on his shoulder. “What is it?” he asked.
“Do you happen to have the time?”
The police officer glanced at his watch. “9:02.”