He tightened the knot on his throat, straightening the knot and adjusting it in the center, making sure it was pressed clean against his white shirt. Then he slid his foot into the black silk socks, feeling the softness of the silk on his skin. He looked into the mirror and brushed his sideburns.
All right, he thought, get some coffee or something. You’ll feel all right soon.
He called out to her, “Hey, could you pour me some coffee?”
He could smell the bacon sizzling on the stove and the aroma of the hot eggs.
“How about some juice?” she called back, “Some fresh orange juice.”
“Coffee is fine,” he said.
Then she appeared in his doorway with a glass of juice and said, “Here, the sugar in the juice will make you feel better.”
Rolling the eyes of his mind’s eye, thinking about how he had asked for coffee, he said, “All right, thanks.”
“Come out when you’re done,” she said, “I’ve got breakfast ready.”
The man looked back into the mirror and ran his hands down over the front of his shirt, then took the juice off the dresser and drank from it. All I want is a cup of coffee, he thought.
He took the sheets that were on the floor and threw them back onto the bed. He put his shirt and underwear and socks into the hamper in the closet, closing the doors and collecting all of her things – shoes, phone charger, hair pins – into a pile on the floor next to her bag. Jesus, he thought, make yourself right at home.
She called out, “It’s getting cold.”
He sat down at the table. She put the plate in front of him and scooped on the eggs, adding the toast and the bacon after and then refilling his juice cup.
“Here’s salt and pepper,” she said, sliding the shakers across the table.
“Want any jam?”
“No,” he said, “Thanks.”
She sat across from him with nothing in front of her.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” he asked.
“I’m not hungry,” she said, “I like to watch you enjoy it.”
He took a bite of the bacon. “It’s good,” he said, “Crunchy.”
“Can I get you anything else?”
“No thanks,” he said, “This is plenty.”
She was looking across the table and into his eyes, staring in a way that made him a bit uncomfortable.
Then she said, “Why is your boss making you go in?”
“You know how these meetings are,” he told her.
“We were supposed to spend the day together. I called out of work last night.”
“Well, I tried, you know?”
“I know you did, babe.”
“It’s these damn white-collared businessmen,” he said, “They don’t know anything else but work and meetings. Big board meetings and impressing their bosses and all that bullshit.”
“We have tonight though, right? I’ll come back over when you’re done?”
“Sure,” he said.
“Or,” she said, getting very wide-eyed and blush, “I could curl up in your bed and wait there for you.”
“Oh, don’t waste your day on me,” he said.
He turned her attention toward the window and said, “Look how nice it is. Go on and enjoy it.”
“I’ll do some shopping for dinner tonight,” she said.
“You don’t have to do that. Go on home and I’ll call you when I’m done.”
“It’s really no problem,” she told him.
“All right,” he said, “Pick up some wine, too, and I’ll call you when I’m home.”
She leaned across the table and kissed his lips. She had both her elbows on the table and was grabbing her triceps, leaning across with her back straight and her calves against the front of the chair.
“Can’t wait for tonight,” she said, getting up to leave. “Let’s walk out together.”
“I’m right behind you,” he said, putting his dish in the sink. He saw the cereal box and disposable bowls on top of the fridge as he piled the skillets in the sink and filled it with soapy water. “Go on ahead. I’ma throw these in the dishwasher.”
“I’ll take care of them,” she said, now walking back into the kitchen. “You’re going to be late.”
“No, let me,” he said, “You cooked, I clean. Go on now, enjoy your day.”
She came in close to him and kissed him, her arms around his neck this time and pulling him towards her. “Think about that during your meeting,” she told him.
He managed a smiled and said, “All right, see you soon,” and she left.
From the window he saw her get in the car. For a moment she sat there, and he waited patiently until she had checked and double-checked and backed out of the spot, turning the wheel and accelerating away.
All right, he thought, get some coffee. You’ll feel better soon.
He took the beans from the freezer and dumped them into the machine, hearing the loud hum and the crushing sound as the beans were ground. He added the water and went back into his room and looked in the mirror. Eight-thirty, he thought, right on time.
He carefully loosened his tie, keeping the knot but slipping it out of his collar and over his head. He unbuttoned his shirt and neatly hung his pants. Then he heard the sound of the coffee pot and went out and poured himself a large mug.
He added the cream and the sugar and went outside to his patio and lit a cigarette.