Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 47 of 64

More carefully, he followed her into the train, back to their little cabin, and reached for the palm-pad to open the door when he heard her agitated comm voice. “No, goddamnit, no. Not yet. Keep calling me and not ever, do you understand?”

Art opened the door. Linda was composed and neat and sweet in her plush seat, shoulders back, smile winning. “Hey honey, did the bad Customs man finally let you go?”

“He did! That sounded like a doozy of a phone conversation, though. What’s wrong?”

“You don’t want to know,” she said.

“All right,” Art said, sitting down opposite her, knee-to-knee, bending forward to plant a kiss on the top of her exposed thigh. “I don’t.”


He continued to kiss his way up her thigh. “Only…”


“I think I probably do. Curiosity is one of my worst failings of character.”


“Quite so,” he said. He’d slid her sundress right up to the waistband of her cotton drawers, and now he worried one of the pubic hairs that poked out from the elastic with his teeth.

She shrieked and pushed him away. “Someone will see!” she said. “This is a border crossing, not a bordello!”

He sat back, but inserted a finger in the elastic before Linda straightened out her dress, so that his fingertip rested in the crease at the top of her groin.

“You are naughty,” she said.

“And curious,” Art agreed, giving his fingertip a playful wiggle.

“I give up. That was my fucking ex,” she said. “That is how I will refer to him henceforth. ‘My fucking ex.’ My fucking, pain-in-the-ass, touchy-feely ex. My fucking ex, who wants to have the Talk, even though it’s been months and months. He’s figured out that I’m stateside from my calling times, and he’s offering to come out to meet me and really Work Things Out, Once And For All.”

“Oh, my,” Art said.

“That boy’s got too much LA in him for his own good. There’s no problem that can’t be resolved through sufficient dialog.”

“We never really talked about him,” Art said.

“Nope, we sure didn’t.”

“Did you want to talk about him now, Linda?”

“‘Did you want to talk about him now, Linda?’ Why yes, Art, I would. How perceptive of you.” She pushed his hand away and crossed her arms and legs simultaneously.

“Wait, I’m confused,” Art said. “Does that mean you want to talk about him, or that you don’t?”

“Fine, we’ll talk about him. What do you want to know about my fucking ex?”

Art resisted a terrible urge to fan her fires, to return the vitriol that dripped from her voice. “Look, you don’t want to talk about him, we won’t talk about him,” he managed.

“No, let’s talk about my fucking ex, by all means.” She adopted a singsong tone and started ticking off points on her fingers. “His name is Toby, he’s half-Japanese, half-white. He’s about your height. Your dick is bigger, but he’s better in bed. He’s a user-experience designer at Lucas-SGI, in Studio City. He never fucking shuts up about what’s wrong with this or that. We dated for two years, lived together for one year, and broke up just before you and I met. I broke it off with him: He was making me goddamned crazy and he wanted me to come back from London and live with him. I wanted to stay out the year in England and go back to my own apartment and possibly a different boyfriend, and he made me choose, so I chose. Is that enough of a briefing for you, Arthur?”

“That was fine,” Art said. Linda’s face had gone rabid purple, madly pinched, spittle flecking off of her lips as she spat out the words. “Thank you.”

She took his hands and kissed the knuckles of his thumbs. “Look, I don’t like to talk about it—it’s painful. I’m sorry he’s ruining our holiday. I just won’t take his calls anymore, how about that?”

“I don’t care, Linda, Honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass if you want to chat with your ex. I just saw how upset you were and I thought it might help if you could talk it over with me.”

“I know, baby, I know. But I just need to work some things out all on my own. Maybe I will take a quick trip out west and talk things over with him. You could come if you want—there are some wicked bars in West Hollywood.”

“That’s OK,” Art said, whipsawed by Linda’s incomprehensible mood shifts. “But if you need to go, go. I’ve got plenty of old pals to hang out with in Toronto.”

“You’re so understanding,” she cooed. “Tell me about your grandmother again—you’re sure she’ll like me?”

“She’ll love you. She loves anything that’s female, of childbearing years, and in my company. She has great and unrealistic hopes of great-grandchildren.”



“Just practicing my brood-hen.”

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