Half-Assed Joke

He picks up a six-pack, swishing with liquidized amber carton of beer. He brings it to the register, already tipsy, head unable to think straight (see clear, walk a line). This was a typical night.

And then, he sees her ahead of him, two customers away, arms full of that organic shit (advertised deliberately as the apropos choice for optimal health). She looked haggard—like him—hair cut differently, more angled, jagged but still long and loose flowing down the mid of her back. Ben smiled slightly. Hello, it's been a while.

Long fingers, bony hands, and a rushed air of deepened mystery and no hours to waste. She handed the cashier a wad of cash and change, mixed and jingling passing from palm to palm, and left with her hands knotted and a plastic bag swinging from hip to side.

"Cash or card?"

"Cash," he said and pulled out a crisp twenty dollar bill, "Excuse me."

Down the street, back against the glaring street lights (neon yellow for your fools' gold), Ben raced to his car. Stopped, glanced up, keys dangling awkwardly out of a jean pocket—


Janine nearly drops her bags, startled, and slowly turns around. Sharp nails spike through her spine, my nerves are wrought, and this can't be real.

"Ben," she replied, arms crossed, not smiling, and infinitely displeased at this turn of events.

"How're you…doing?"



"I'm sorry, Janine, for you know…how things turned out."

"Don't bother, I'm the one who wanted a divorce remember?"


Long pause. Cars go in and out of the parking lot. The lights flicker and dim and reignite. And still, they wait for the other to say something—anything, just an answer would be nice.

"Do you want to get dinner sometime?"


Ben scoffed. "Well, yeah, together. We could…"

"Have a nice life, Ben."

She slides into her car and keys in the engine. She leaves him stranded, still asking himself what he had done wrong.