Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 197

‘Your birthday? Jeez, Mandy. I’m sorry. Right now I’m a little more concerned about my brain. It could be broken or bleeding.’ He shook his head again. It felt like rotten cabbage. He wished Mandy would evaporate but she stayed put, popping her gum and squinting into the sun. ‘We’ll have a nice dinner in the hospital cafeteria,’ he offered, suppressing a painful smile.

‘Nah,’ she said. ‘I’ll wait for you here.’

Mandy Sloan was a pop-up kind of girlfriend. Sometimes she’d stay for a day or two and then disappear for a week. She made Louis laugh and was a wild thing in bed. He felt no deep commitment to her so he never asked Mandy to provide alibis. She wore fishnet stockings, quirky berets and hoop earrings as large as luncheon plates. Her hair was spiked with various shades of orange and red. She looked a little like a rooster. Louis liked her style. His mother, Martina, would be appalled which made Mandy all the more desirable.

Louis, on the other hand, looked a little like a peahen. He was conservative in his dress, wearing beige khakis and polo shirts everyday along with brown penny loafers and no socks. It was as if he had been programmed to be invisible. A retired investment counselor, Lou played poker with the boys, attended dog races, swam fifteen laps a day and restored antique cars. He was a tall, thin man with a quiet smile and an undecided mustache. Lou had an impressive collection of banana labels which he launched as a teen while the other kids were outdoors throwing or smacking a ball around. The labels were stored alphabetically in a locked file cabinet.

Lou climbed the winding staircase to the second floor, almost tripping on yesterday’s wet towel. He showered, dressed in his khaki