HORSE AND TOMATO
In the room there is a wooden table and on the table is a sandwich and a glass of milk.
Sitting at the table is a man, about 50. Short, neat, plain except for a well managed salt and pepper mustache.
He looks over two or three pieces of paper.
The room is empty except for a few things. The table, the man, a small kitchen, the sandwich. The room is lit by a large skylight set two or three feet into the angled ceiling.
The man takes a bite of the sandwich and from time to time sips from the glass of milk.
A knock at the door.
The man does not immediately get up. He finishes the sentence he was reading. Then he slides the papers underneath each other, into the yellow folder they came in.
The knock again.
The man lets out a small cough, as if to say: Okay, I suppose.
He gets up and unlocks the door.
A woman stands outside, behind her an overcast sky. She is older than him. Large black sunglasses a black coat and a green floral dress peeking out from under the coat.
The woman comes into the room.
Hello, the woman says.
Please, the man motions towards a chair opposite his at the table.
The woman walks to the chair and loosens the straps of her coat. The man appears behind her and takes the coat from her shoulders. Noiselessly, the woman sits down, removing her sunglasses and placing them on the table.
The man folds her coat in half and puts it on the edge of the table. Noiselessly, he also sits down.
He looks at the woman.
Are you hungry? Would you like some of this food? Horse and tomato sandwich. We can split it if you like.
No, the woman says and she brings up her purse and sets it in her lap.
May I smoke in here? she asks.
But the man is admiring his sandwich. Two slabs of horse and the tomato sliced thin, liberal portions of mayo spread underneath both pieces of dark rye bread.
I'd like to have a cigarette.
He furrows his brow and nods, let me get you an ashtray, he says.
He stands up and crosses the empty room. He takes a white mug from inside the sink. He turns the tap and fills the mug with cold water. He stands there, takes a sip to make it less full and then he goes back to the table.
He puts the mug down onto the table. The woman lights her cigarette, taking one drag and holding the rest of it over the mug.
The man stares at her for a while and then looks back down at the sandwich.
My son says I should stop smoking.
The man looks up from the sandwich. Do you smoke a lot?
The woman shrugs. I smoke whenever there is a lit cigarette between my fingers.
He just doesn't want you to die, the man says.
He thinks it's trashy, she says. He knows I won't die.
Right, the man says. Well children never like what their parents do.
No, she says, I suppose they don't. She takes a long drag and taps the ash into the mug.
Do you have children? You must I suppose.
Yes, he says.
She takes another drag and looks him over. Not rich but not poor. His parents were probably poor and his children might end up poor too. A man and his sandwich and his mustache, balanced comfortably for a moment at the edge of a knife.
And your wife lets you keep that mustache?
Yes, he says. She's never complained.
I never let my men wear mustaches.
No, he says. I don't imagine you would.
She catches his look and straightens herself. She looks away, imagining what it would be like to have him in bed.
She drops the rest of the cigarette into the cup.
Well, finish your sandwich if you want, she says, bringing her wallet out from her purse.
The man glances over the sandwich again. The bread will be dry soon and then it will be ruined.
That's alright, he says, looking up at her, grinning at little this time.
I'll finish it later.