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Sandwich Guy

After being told by her live in boyfriend that he didn’t love her, Izzy has an odd and wonderful encounter with a strange man who waxes poetic about the goodness of a sandwich. She is inspired and makes her decison to finally move on from a bad relationship and memories of a terrible time. The sandwich guy gives her the strength, if only she could thank him somehow…

Written by Rebecca Milton
Published by AmorBooks

Izzy moved on.

Nothing worked towards the end of the relationship with Clavin. Nothing, it seemed, to her. She didn’t rinse the glasses correctly. She didn’t clean the sink in the bathroom correctly. She left stubble from her legs in the shower…incorrect. Nothing, not even sleeping, was right. She put her cold feet on his legs.

“You are my heater, my foot warmer,” she had told him, thinking it cute, thinking it adorable, thinking it expressed her gratitude and love for the man. She thought wrong.

It had happened gradually. They met, they dated, they loved, and they occupied an apartment together. His apartment, his territory. She moved in her few items. She had been living with two other women in a spacious three-bedroom, and he had his own place. A large place with two bedrooms, one for the sleeping and the sex, and one that he used as his office. Which he promised he would rearrange to accommodate her office needs. He did. After she had hounded him for a month. After he had complained that the kitchen table was covered with junk, and looked messy, and felt stifling. He gave in and rearranged the office.

She got her desk from storage, finally, set up her computer, her pens and blank books. She wrote all day and, in the evening, when he came home, she vacated the office, gave it over fully to him. That was fine, it seemed to be fine. Until the first Sunday when she sat at her desk early morning, cup of tea, reading pages, editing the work, and he walked in. He stood at the door for a moment, she looking up at him and smiling. He was rumpled, just from bed, his hair going in several different directions, his upper body bare, his lower body clad in pajama bottoms. She liked the way he looked, like a well-slept-in bed.

On impulse, she got up and threw her arms around him, hugged him, buried her face in his skin. Oh, she loved him, she did. He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her arm’s length away. He gave her an odd look, like he wasn’t sure who she was or why she was. He surveyed the room and it slowly dawned on him. Yes, yes, he had agreed, yes, yes, it was fine. No, no she didn’t have to leave the room. He needed coffee. So, he left. He made coffee and read the Times at the now-clear kitchen table. He went for a run. He came home, showered, changed and then, when all that was done, he once again stepped into the office. She was at her desk, across the room from his desk, munching a sandwich, working hard on the new book. He stared.

“You’re still here,” he said to her and she had no idea how to respond. What did he mean exactly? You’re still here in the room, at the desk or, you’re still here in my apartment… In my life? Neither question was optimal. Neither question encouraged her to respond. “I have emails to write, and cases to read over.” He said that to her and she nodded, went back to her words, her sandwich, her Sunday. He stood and waited. She was engrossed in her work, her sandwich, her Sunday feeling of ease and comfort. She did not notice that he was still in the doorway. That was wrong as well.

So much was wrong. So many little things that seemed to have piled up, been pushed to the back of the closet and then, one day, she felt, out of nowhere, the door was flung open and everything started to come out. At first, it was a flood. An explosion. He ranted about needing to be in the office alone, needing his time in there by himself. When she said he could have just asked, he got mad about that. Why should he have to ask in his apartment, to get into his office? She could see he was upset so, she didn’t bring up the fact that it was now their apartment, their office.

After the initial flooding, the dumping out of problems, they had talked and she approached it reasonably, rationally, and he seemed fine with it. Trouble was, the door to that jam-packed closet remained open, and things kept dropping out, falling out like leaves in a bag left untied on the front lawn. Little problems were always falling between them and they had to be dealt with. She did her best. He did not. The little things kept coming and coming and finally… the big thing.

“I don’t really love you,” he told her one Sunday morning as she sat at her desk in their office, with her tea, and he was there, in his pajamas, standing in the doorway, waiting to have the room to himself. “I love you in the sense that I have a level of care about you, and I enjoy your company but, I don’t love enough that I really want to share this office with you.” She said she could work in the kitchen or she could work in the coffee shop around the corner. “No,” he continued, “I don’t love you enough that I even want to share this apartment with you any longer. I don’t love you… Well, I don’t love you like that.”

“You don’t love me enough,” she repeated. “You don’t love me like that?” It seemed odd and unbelievable. Why was he saying this now, today? Last night, they had a wonderful evening of watching a movie, drinking wine, eating popcorn, having delicious sex. What had happened? She got up and pushed by him, walked down the hall to the bedroom, looked it over. Walked back to the office and looked him over. She was trying to see, figure it out. What had happened between sleeping and waking, between bedrooms, bathroom, office that was bringing him to the conclusion that he no longer loved her… like that. Whatever the hell that meant. She asked. Politely, calmly, could he possibly explain what he meant by, like that?

“Simply put,” he said, running his hands through his tussled hair, rubbing his bare belly, shuffling on his bare feet, “I don’t love you.” She waited for him to say, anymore. That would have been…something, if he had said, “I don’t love you anymore.” Then she could grieve the loss. He didn’t say that. He said, “I don’t love you.” The end of the sentence hung in the air between them like a thick, black, velvet curtain.

***

Now, she had moved on. Her new place was a large, studio apartment near the waterfront. It had hardwood floors, large windows, and a big kitchen. But, just the one room. The one room for bed and desk, chair and footstool. One room to live in. She was happy with that. She was moving on.

He left a message on her phone:

“Hey, um, just wondering when you’re going to come by and get your stuff. No rush, but, I figured you’d want things for your new place. I mean, I know you want your desk, you love that thing. Let me know. Thanks.”

The click, the silence.

She sat down. On the sidewalk. Like a child who wasn’t yet aware of society’s rules of where and when a person should sit. A child will just drop to the floor or the ground, anytime, anywhere, and they have to be corralled by an adult. Lifted by an arm, the rest of the body hanging like meat, neither resisting nor agreeing, simply being. Adults knew that was not acceptable and so, they saved their sitting, their emotional collapses, for more acceptable places – the home, the coffee shop, the bar… but, not on the sidewalk, middle of the day, on a bustling thoroughfare.

Yet, that’s exactly what Izzy did. The world passed by her, people moved on with their days, their errands, and their flood through life. Some giving her petulant glances, some ignoring her, none stopping, no one sitting down next to her, telling her she was fine, telling her they, too, had felt the need to just stop. The world kept moving. Life kept going. She stared at the phone.

“Look at this, perfectly good, un… um…not unwrapped, I was gonna say un-unwrapped but that seemed wordy, heavy, complex. No, not unwrapped, that’s the best way to describe it. Pristine, yes, that’s even better. Look, pristine.” Izzy was looking down at the phone in her hand, lost, and stung, after hearing Clavin’s voice. It had been only two days and yet, he had manage to extract all signs of their past from his voice. He was cold, distant, and businesslike. In two days the soft tones, the warm undercurrents of love, had been vanquished and he spoke to her like a stranger, like she was a clown head at the drive-thru and he was ordering lunch. She was swirling into the past, drifting away from the world, when the man’s voice snapped her into the present. She turned and saw the man holding out a sandwich toward her. It was fully-wrapped, unopened. He smiled at her and she tried to understand what was happening.

“Pristine,” he said again and his smile got wider, “found it, right there, sitting there, doing nothing, bothering no one, not causing any trouble just sitting and being…pristine.” Izzy stared at the man and then looked around for cameras. Was this some kind of web series, she wondered to herself. These days, every putz with a cell phone camera fancied themselves a filmmaker or TV show producer. Was she being punked, or some such nonsense? She was not in the mood.

“Oh, this is a find, a find I say, a rare find,” the man kept talking to her as if they were best friends. He smelled the wrapped sandwich and then, slowly began to tear the paper. With each little rip, he stopped and smelled. “Oh, that’s fresh, my God, that is fresh. Smell that, smell that bread, smell that freshness.” He held the sandwich out to her again and she just stared at him, unable to understand what was happening to her. He pulled the sandwich back and continued his slow, methodical unwrapping. “Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a cheeseburger or you know, the remains of a cheeseburger, which is very different from the remains of the day, which was a pretty solid film, I must say. But, you’ll get one, part of one, rewrapped, and stuffed into a bag. Sometimes, when I find one of those, I take time to imagine the person who didn’t finish it. Who started to eat it and then, something made them stop. Something distracted them or… or… upset them to the point of not being able to eat the rest of the cheeseburger. I’m not fond of that idea, that notion that the eating, the enjoying of a delicious cheeseburger was curtailed by feelings of… of… of an upset, angry or sad nature… not a fan of that. If I ponder the burger for a while, before I eat it, which is what I usually do, I like to take time, feel the history, you know, well, if, in that moment, feeling the history, I get the sense that the burger of cheese consumption as interrupted due to ill feelings, you know what, you what…” He stopped and waited.

“What?” Izzy said.

“Thanks. Well, if I sense those feelings… I don’t eat it, I just don’t. Do you know why?” Again he stopped, again, Izzy answered.

“Why?”

“Thanks. I don’t eat it because, and perhaps this may sound far-fetched to you, or not, you seem open, level, honest, willing to hear and listen and think so, maybe I’m okay here. The thing is, I don’t eat it because I believe that I may consume, take into myself, my life… my very body,” with that he punched himself in the stomach, hard and it made a deep thud. “I may take in that sorrow or anger. I mean, something has to be pretty bad to make you… you …stop, mid burger, right? I mean… a cheeseburger, that’s… I don’t know that’s… well, anyway, if I sense in its history a tone, an undercurrent, a hint of sorrow or anger, like with wine, you know, hints of plum, of chocolate… hints of rage or hurt, nope, won’t eat it. That plum comes from the soil who knows where that feeling comes from and, who knows what happens to me if it gets into my system, my… body.” Again, he punched himself.

“I guess that makes sense,” Izzy said.

He nodded and continued to unwrap the sandwich. When one end of the sandwich was free of its paper confinement, he went to take a bite and then, he stopped. He got a look on his face, one that Izzy could only describe as a look of realization. He looked around, looked at her, lowered the sandwich down to his lap, and closed his eyes. Izzy was fascinated by him and despite her foul mood, her shock at Clavin’s tone, the entire break-up, she sat and waited for what was going to happen next.

“I’m sorry,” he said and then, went silent again. Her instinct was to ask why he was sorry but, his demeanor, once frantic and flowing, had changed so drastically that she didn’t want to interrupt him, disturb this new mood. He nodded his head and then turned to her. “Look at where we are. I mean… okay, I got a little caught up in the…” he held up the sandwich, “I am sure you understand it is…”

“Pristine,” Izzy said, and he sighed. He moved an inch or so closer to her and she did not back away. There was nothing frightening about this man to her. Nothing that repulsed her or made her uncomfortable. She waited.

“Yes,” he said and smiled at her. His teeth were white and clean, “You get it, pristine, so, I am understandably distracted. But, that doesn’t mean I have any right to be rude and rude, my apologies, is exactly what I was being.” He held the sandwich out to her with both hands, presenting it like it was on a golden platter. “Would you, fair lady, please take the first bite?”

Izzy had not expected that at all. She sat up straight and looked at the sandwich. She noticed that the man’s hands were exceptionally clean as well. Then, she took him in, fully, for the first time. He was clean, wearing jeans, a black T-shirt and a sports coat. He didn’t look homeless. He didn’t look desperate. “Please,” he said, moving the proffered sandwich closer. She hesitated and then, in an instant, he changed. He stood up quickly, took several steps away from her, had a violent conversation with himself, engaging his entire body in gestures and gyrations. After a moment, he sat down next to her again.

“Wrong,” he said, “wrong, wrong, wrong, I am so…” He went silent, and in the silence he seemed to continue the argument in his head. When at last the argument was over, who knows who won, he looked at her, his eyes misty and sorrowful. “I am so very sorry,” he said, his voice soft and full of real remorse, “what kind of person… I cannot believe that I almost did that. To you. A perfectly nice, lovely person and I almost…” He stopped and hung his head. Instinctively she reached out and touched his shoulder.

“What did you almost do?” she asked. He couldn’t look at her, he kept his head down when he spoke.

“I almost…” he struggled to speak, obviously caught up in a deep shame. “What if the sandwich isn’t pristine? What if… The person who bought this, bought it for someone and that someone rejected it? The sandwich would be tainted with rejection. Or worse, loss… What if… what if the person who bought the sandwich… if they bought it for someone and that someone died before they could get the sandwich and that’s why it was abandoned… or hate… the person who bought the sandwich was trying to… mend, mend the whole thing between people, between lost and found, between right and wrong between why and please come back home, please. What if it failed because flowers or chocolates or promises of never again and I’ll do better were what was really called for but the sandwich stepped in and… all of that… all of that could be swarming all over this seemingly pristine sandwich but, in reality, you would have consumed such grief, such anger, such loss… how could I do that? What is wrong with me?”

He didn’t look at her, his head hung lower. She waited a moment and then she reached over and took the sandwich from his hands and bit into it. His head snapped up and he stared at her. He said, very softly but, with great intensity, “No.” She chewed the bite, it was fresh and very good. She swallowed and handed it back to him. He stared at her, his mouth hanging open.

“It’s pristine,” she assured him. He looked at her closely, like a scientist waiting for a chemical reaction in a petri dish, or beaker over flame. Nothing happened. He looked at the sandwich and then back to her. “It’s good,” she said, “really it’s… fine.”

“You’re not angry,” he started to question her, “upset, forlorn, disgusted, sad, empty…” he waited for her reply, and she shook her head. “How… how do you feel?” he asked and she thought about it, looked at her phone, then back at him and smiled.

“I feel very, very good,” she told him and he relaxed.

“Good, good… you have to be careful you know, you never know when something is going to sneak into your system. I mean, who knows, right, who really knows. You have to do your best not to pick up on someone else’s troubles, you cannot be a shelf for other people’s souvenirs from bad times. Not me and, not you either, not you, you have to be careful of that.” He bit into the sandwich, closed his eyes and chewed very slowly. He made sounds of happiness, of satisfaction and his pure joy made Izzy laugh. “Is it funny?” he asked and suddenly she feared he was offended.

“No,” Izzy stammered on. “I mean yes, it’s funny but in a very… you seem so happy, you love that sandwich and you’re not ashamed of expressing it… It’s funny in a joyful… sort of way.” She slowed the end of the sentence knowing she was not being clear.

“As opposed to funny in a hateful, painful sort of way,” he said and smiled, his whole face smiled, his mouth, his eyes, he became a smile, and Izzy burst out laughing.

“It’s a sidewalk, not a cafe, people,” a cop, standing over them said, breaking the magical laughing moment, “so let’s move it along.” They nodded, apologized, rose to their feet and the cop moved on. They stood for a moment facing each other, slightly awkward, and then Izzy shrugged and walked away. She had taken only a few steps when the man called out to her.

“Thank you,” he said, she turned to him, he looked different, his energy seemed to have calmed down, his frantic, frenetic movement was gone and he stood, calm, still, smiling. “Thanks for… talking and, putting up with that bit of insanity.” He waved and walked off. Izzy watched him, unsure of what he meant, unsure of what had just happened, but sure of one thing, she was happy and she was, in fact, feeling very, very good.

***

Clavin clenched his jaw, he twisted his napkin up into a ball and then smacked it hard on the table. She watched, as if from a great distance. He looked around the room, making sure no one was watching. Clavin hated to make a scene, hated to be noticed for the wrong reasons in public.

“Just… will you please be reasonable,” he pushed the words through clenched teeth, “just get your stuff out of my apartment.”

“No,” Izzy said, sipping her tea, still feeling very good, free, some part of her holding onto the conversation with the funny, odd, captivating man she had met two days ago. She had gotten several calls from Clavin, each one more frantic, more desperate and she finally agreed to meet him at a small cafe that they used to frequent. She informed him that she was not going to take any of her things back. She had her clothes, her papers and her books. As for the rest he could do with it what he pleased. “I don’t want them and I don’t need their… energy any longer,” she informed him, placing her tea cup down on the table, punctuating the moment.

“Jesus, Izzy, you’re being completely… I don’t know what but, it’s not good, it really isn’t…” He tried to make sense but was obviously confused. “The energy… I don’t… What about your desk, you love the desk.”

“I also loved you Clavin and that was easily extinguished, I am sure I will move on from the desk…” she resisted saying ‘as you have moved on from me’ because she didn’t feel that was necessary. She no longer cared that he had or hadn’t moved on. She cared about not bringing his energy, the energy of their shared place, into her life ever again. She thought a lot about the frantic man with the sandwich in the days after the meeting on the sidewalk and, it had made sense to her. “I have decided not to be a shelf that holds souvenirs of bad items,” she told him. He shook his head as if he had been punched and was trying to get clear again.

“What the fuck does that mean,” his voice much louder than he expected, and a few heads turned toward their table. He sucked in a breath, held it, and then placed his palms down on the table to control himself. “You’re making no sense, Izzy, just… Just come and get the stuff.” She shook her head. “Did, what did you already go and buy all new furniture, is that is?” Again, she shook her head. “Then what, Izzy, what is it that you’re playing at?”

“I’m not playing, at least I’m not playing with you, not anymore. I have not bought new furniture, truth be told, I have nothing. I’m sleeping on three quilts my mother gave me, that I had in storage, on the floor and, for the rest… nothing. I have nothing. And, it feels okay.” This was true.

After she had the conversation with the sandwich man, Izzy had gone home and stood in her new, clean, bare apartment and it didn’t feel empty to her. She thought about her things, thought about the sandwich, wondered what energy she would be inviting into her life if she brought anything from Clavin’s place into her new place. She made the decision not to take anything back, not to bring any of it into her new place, instead she would buy new furniture. Oddly though, as she wandered through stores, looking at couches and beds, chairs, end tables, she began to wonder what the history of all the pieces was. Were the people who built the furniture happy, angry…? Would she be taking their energy into her place? Would she take that into her life, into her body? She gave her chest a little thump. Less passionate than the sandwich man’s loud, aggressive stomach punches but, still, the same idea. She left the furniture store.

“This is fucked up, Izzy,” Clavin said, standing, pulling his wallet out and dropping a few bills on the table. “I am going to throw all your stuff out on the streets, is that what you want?”

“That’s okay, Clavin,” she told him, feeling all her initial anger and hurt over the breakup just melt off her body, “I would prefer it if you donated it to charity or something like that but, if you need to toss it on the streets to heal, then I think that’s the best thing for you to do.” He stood looking down at her for a moment, saying nothing, looking at her, his expression was one of confusion and anger.

“I don’t understand you,” he said at last, “I really don’t.” He waited for a response, got none, and then walked out.

“Maybe that was the problem all along,” she said to the space that he once occupied.

***

“Do you want to borrow something?” Abby asked. She and Izzy were standing in Izzy’s new place looking it over, “I mean… I don’t know… A table or…something?” Izzy shook her head. She was still very happy with the sparse nature of her place. She was doing her writing in various coffee shops around the city, feeling more inspired than ever, being in and among people while she wrote.

“I don’t feel as closed off,” she told Abby, “and I am writing more pages every day than I ever have. I feel inspired by the world. It’s been great.”

“Well, that’s cool, I guess,” Abby said looking around the empty apartment, “but you have… nothing.”

“I have you,” Izzy said and hugged Abby, “my best friend.”

“Are you… okay?” Abby asked, not really buying into the fact that Izzy was happy with bare walls and floors. “Are you, honestly or are you just…you know, compensating for… the break-up?”

People of late talked to her about “the break-up” like it was a huge, historical milestone. Like the Great War or 9/11. The break-up was often whispered and accompanied by looks of pity or tender touches on her arm. At first, she felt it was sweet, kind, caring, but now, even after only a few weeks, she was tired of it. She was tired of being defined as the woman who was dumped. She felt so far away from that. She was living, being happy, writing, and making sure she didn’t take in too much of the bad energy of the world. Things were truly good.

“No, Abby, I am not compensating. I am not bottling things up and I am not going to have a great exploding break down, I’m not,” she assured her friend, “I am really doing great. I am really happy and I am really loving my new, sparse space.” Abby looked her over, decided it was true and relaxed.

“Okay, good, I’m thrilled to hear that because I need a favor,” Abby said and Izzy braced for something horrific. She hoped, with all her heart that Abby wasn’t going to ask her to go on a blind date, or an arranged date, or anything like that. Even though she was feeling good, she was not ready to get involved, even peripherally, with anyone. “I just started seeing this guy, he’s a lighting designer and he has a show opening tonight and he wants me to come. I like him…a lot… But, I don’t know anything about the theater, and I don’t want to go alone, so will you please, please, please go with me?”

“Of course,” Izzy said, relieved the favor didn’t involve her trying to be polite on a terrible date with a stranger. “A lighting designer, that’s kind of cool.”

“I know,” Abby said and then was silent for a moment. “Iz, I have no idea what a lighting designer does.” They burst out laughing and it echoed in the empty room. Izzy liked the sound, like multiple voices laughing all at once. She suddenly wondered how often she had laughed while living with Clavin.

***

“Sandwich guy!” she gasped when the lights came up on stage and she saw him, sitting in a chair, holding a wrapped sandwich in his hand. Abby shushed her. Izzy hunched down and whispered an apology. There he was. When he started to speak, he said the same things he had said to her when they both sat on the sidewalk. The exact same thing. She was fascinated. His performance was stunning. He was that hyper, frenetic man she had met that day. He spoke of the taking in of other’s emotions, of not eating the cheeseburger, all of it.

At first, she was uneasy, slightly upset that she had been, obviously, played, used as some sort of acting excursus, but, as the show rolled on, she was so mesmerized by his work that the anger floated away and was replaced by awe. When the show ended, the audience rose to its feet at curtain call, the applause and shouts for sandwich man were the loudest, because he truly was stunning.

When the house lights came up, Izzy grabbed the program which she had barely glanced at before the performance. She flipped to the cast page and found his picture. Gabriel Allverse. She ran a finger over his picture and tried to read his bio, but Abby grabbed her by the hand and dragged her up the aisle into the lobby. There was a gathering there, a bar had been set up, and vested servers circulated trays of snacks, mostly variations of small sandwiches. Abby introduced Izzy to Devon, the lighting designer, and they made small talk for a moment. He seemed very nice, bright, and she could see that Abby was really into him.

“Okay,” Abby said to him, “I have to confess, I have no real idea what a lighting designer does.” He smiled, took her hand, told her he would be happy to show her, and took her back into the theater for a lesson on lighting design. Izzy bade her good night, told her she would speak to her in the morning. She congratulated Devon on the show and was about to leave when she saw sandwich man, Gabriel, walk into the lobby. He was immediately engulfed by a group of patrons.

She watched him from a distance. He was polite, but she noticed he seemed uneasy with the attention. The crowd around him began to thin, so Izzy snatched a sandwich from a passing tray and approached him. She waited a few feet away until the last person left his side, then she held out the sandwich to him.

“Pristine,” she said, he turned politely laughing, expecting another well-wisher, but his eyes lit up when he saw Izzy. He recognized her and she was pleased.

“Sidewalk girl,” he said.

“Sandwich guy,” she shot back and they stood, slightly awkward, saying nothing for a moment. “My friend, Abby, she’s sort of dating your lighting designer, she brought me tonight, I’m not stalking you,” she told him, he chuckled and then, silence again. “You know, I was a little upset when the lights came up onstage and I saw you there. I truly thought you were homeless or, I don’t know, mentally disturbed. Now I find you’re just an actor, and you used me.”

“Ouch,” he said, stuffing his hands deep into his pockets, “just an actor.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she tried to end the unintentional wound. “Obviously you’re a very good actor.” He nodded his appreciation and then looked past her, across the lobby. A gaggle of older women had spotted him and decided that yes, he was who he was, and started to move toward him.

“Listen, let’s get out of here,” he said, taking her arm and pulling her toward the exit. Izzy allowed herself to be led. Outside, he kept moving at a quick pace until they were about a block away from the theater. He slowed down.

“Sorry,” he said, then confessed that he didn’t like all the attention post-show, he wasn’t comfortable in crowds, and it was his least favorite part of the job. “Don’t misunderstand me, I love the audience and I appreciate anyone who still supports live theater, I’m just basically an introvert and all the questions and attention makes me a little sick.” They stepped into an Irish pub, “This is my spot,” he told her as they settled into stools at the bar.

“So, what was the deal that day, the whole on the sidewalk, sandwich thing?” she pressed him. She saw that he suddenly got embarrassed and wished she hadn’t brought it up.

“Oh… that,” he said, playing with the glass of scotch in front of him.

“Yes, that,” she said, taking a sip of wine. He thought for a moment, keeping his head down, his eyes on the glass and then, he took a breath and turned to her.

“Okay, so that whole opening monologue, really almost everything I said to you on the street that day, I was having trouble with it. I couldn’t make sense of it, get the right tone, the pace, nothing was working. We were on a break, and I had just bought the sandwich and walked out of the shop. At that moment, I saw you drop to the sidewalk. No one stopped, no one did a damn thing. My first instinct was to go to you, help you out somehow, and see if you were okay. I took a few steps, noticed that you weren’t injured, not physically anyway, and stopped. I figured if I said anything to you, you would have said you were fine and been, I don’t know, embarrassed, maybe. You were so… You looked like someone had stolen you and returned you in pieces and… You were gloriously lovely and I wanted to… I don’t know, just spend a moment with you. So, before I knew what I was doing or could stop myself, I was sitting on the sidewalk with you and… Speaking the monologue.” He shrugged as way of apologizing and looked even more embarrassed. They were silent for a moment, Izzy playing the words over in her head, savoring the phrase gloriously lovely.

“I’m sorry, he said after a moment, “it wasn’t my intention to use you or anything… I’m sorry.” She forgave him, thanked him for his kind words and his honesty. “The thing is,” he moved closer to her, his eyes got sharp and intense, “when you took the sandwich and bit it, when you risked taking into yourself all the anger or hate or whatever I had imbued the sandwich with…when you did that, everything suddenly clicked into place. Immediately the piece made total sense. I was going to tell you but then that cop showed up and you walked away and… I don’t know. You saved me, you really did and… I don’t even know your name.” Izzy laughed and stuck out her hand.

“Isabelle Woods,” she said, “and it’s nice to meet you, Sandwich Guy.” He shook her hand.

“Gabriel,” he told her and held her hand for a moment, “and the pleasure is mine.”

“Honestly, you saved me, too,” she confided, and then she told him about Clavin and the break-up, the coldness in his voice, his declaration that he didn’t love her. She told him about shopping for furniture, and not wanting to bring anything into the new apartment that had odd or angry or bad energy. “So, I’m taking my time and really digging into the history of things before I take them home.” He was surprised that his ramblings on the street had made such an impression.

“So, what have you got so far?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she said and laughed, “I have nothing at all.” They laughed and ordered another round. “I was struck by something you said on the sidewalk, but you didn’t say it in the play.”

“What was that?”

“You said your life shouldn’t be a shelf to house souvenirs from bad times,” he nodded, “oh no,” Izzy gasped. “Please tell me you meant that, and it wasn’t just some bullshit, made up in the spot.”

“No, no,” he said quickly saving her from distress, “that’s actually… I believe that. I based the character on that idea. I really think it’s true. I’m just… I’m surprised it had that kind of effect on you.”

“It did,” Izzy said, relieved, “walk me home.” He agreed.

***

“You weren’t kidding,” he said, peeking into her apartment but not crossing the threshold, “you really have nothing.”

“Yup, totally serious.”

“You have a great view,” he remarked and then stepped back. “I should go, I have two shows tomorrow, need to get some sleep.” He thanked her for seeing the show, for spending time. “I hope I see you again,” he told her as he left. She ran to the windows and looked down to the street, waiting for him to come out of her building.

“Please look up,” she wished out loud, when he appeared. She watched him walk a few steps, stop and then, look up toward her windows. She knew he couldn’t see her but, that didn’t matter. What mattered was, he looked up.

***

“You’re behaving like some kind of coffee shop slacker, wannabe writer, Izzy,” Clavin said, standing over her table at the cafe. He had appeared beside her seconds before and immediately started to hassle her. “You’re a professional writer, so why don’t you come get your desk and start acting like an adult.” She looked up at him. He seemed like a memory from years past. She recalled a time before when he had insinuated that she needed to grow up, act like a professional. She had been crushed, unable to write for several days. Now, his words dropped to the floor long before they could reach her heart. She gathered her things calmly, Clavin seething, waiting for a response, a reason to fight.

“You know, Clavin,” she said softly, “maybe you’re right. Maybe you shouldn’t throw the desk into the street or donate it.”

“Finally,” he said, “you’re finally making sense. Good. Do you want to come get it or would you like me to bring it to you?” Izzy thought for a moment.

“Here’s what you should do. You should take the desk, and shove it as far up your ass as you possibly can.” She smiled and headed toward the door. There, she stopped and turned to him, “Of course, to get it really as far up there as you can, you’re going to have to remove that enormous stick that resides there first.” She smiled and left.

***

On a Monday night, about three weeks later, Izzy sat cross-legged on her floor, her computer in her lap, surrounded by candles. There was a knock on the door and when she opened it, Gabriel was standing there.

“Sandwich Guy,” she said.

“Oh, good, you’re home,” he said, and then disappeared. He returned a moment later, hauling a large, leather arm chair. “May I come in?” he asked, and she stepped aside. He hauled the chair over to the windows and set it down. “I kept thinking about this view and what a shame it was that you weren’t enjoying it properly.” Once the chair was settled in the perfect spot, he presented it like a game show host, arms out toward it. “Tah-dah!”

“Thanks,” said Izzy, a little unsure.

“When I was a kid, my grandfather used to sit me on his lap in this chair and read his scripts to me, because he was an actor too. Actually, he was and is my greatest inspiration. He lived a long, happy, creative life full of laughter and love. When he passed away, I took the chair to college with me. I used to sit in it to learn my lines. It was a good luck chair for me. After I graduated, I took it with me to the city. It was the only thing I owned, well, this and a futon. When I finally signed with an agent, I was sitting in this chair when he called me. When I got cast in my first professional show, I was in this chair when I got the call. First film role, first TV role… All of them, I was in this chair when they told me. What I’m saying, Izzy, is the only souvenirs this chair is carrying are ones from positive, happy times.” He smiled and then sat in the chair. “And, it’s incredibly comfy. I want you to have it.”

“Thank you,” Izzy said, finding herself very moved by his gift.

“Try it out,” he told her, straining to rise out of the chair. She pushed him back down onto it and crawled onto his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. After a good long while, they broke the kiss. “Thank you, it’s my favorite piece of furniture ever.” Then she sat up. “Oh my god, don’t you have a show?” She started to get up, to let him leave, he pulled her back down.

“Monday night. The theater is always dark on a Monday night.” He kissed her and she settled into his body. She looked out the window and sighed.

“Wow, this really is an incredible view,” he agreed, “so I think we should sit here and enjoy this view for a long time.”

“I think you’re right,” he said and they sat watching the sun sink slowly into the sea.

***

Across town, alone in his apartment, Clavin cleared the things off of Izzy’s desk. He took a thick rag and a bottle of furniture polish and shined the wood carefully. Then, he returned everything to its exact place. When everything was back, he stared at it for a moment and then stepped to the window and watched the night creep over the city.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Sexy Stories

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