They met at the King Wha Chinese restaurant down the street from The Diplomat Hotel. He paid for a room just before seeing her. It had a queen bed and cable television; pornography was extra.
The middle-aged man got there before she did. It had been a long time. They were sweethearts in high school. Both swapped pictures of each other on Facebook. He now had a paunch and her blonde curls were turning gray. She had wrinkles from smoking. He had a bad liver from drinking.
Even though pictures were seen, they still didn’t recognize each other. He was balding and she had picked up pounds over the years. She looked into his soul. He looked at the low cut sweater she was wearing. They embraced and were seated. For a minute they just stared at each other.
You look great, he said, thumbing through the menu.
So do you, she responded.
It’s good to see you in person.
Yes, after all these years, she said. Cashew chicken. I always get cashew chicken.
Why not try something new. Something spicy. Kung pao chicken is good. Lots of peppers, she giggled. He smiled.
I’ll get heart burn. Better stick with the cashew.
You think so huh, he continued looking at the menu. I’m going spicy. Like to live on the edge.
The waiter came over and took their orders. He had a Manhattan and she had an iced tea. There was silence. An awkward silence.They both knew they shouldn’t have come. Guilt was setting in.
Do you mind if I go outside to smoke real quick?
Take your time, he said.
She excused herself and exited the restaurant. She lit her cigarette and noticed her hand was shaking. She began to sweat.
He ordered another drink and played with the chopsticks. He thought about his wife briefly. Their two sons. And came to the conclusion that he deserved this. He wanted this brief affair.
Outside, the moon shined down on her. It was yellow and haunting. She stomped out her cigarette and walked towards her car. She never looked back.