Though he was early, he leered at his watch. He was only a little early, just enough to make sure he was there first. He liked to be first.
Around the cafe, he saw people, though he couldn’t focus on their faces. None of them were her, and that was all he cared about right now. Everyone else seemed dumb. He heard excerpts of conversation, “You look good for someone on death row.” Half-hearted jokes just to break up the monotony of their one-note lives.
“You’ll be fine, just tell them you’re mentally disabled.”
“Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I don’t respect a good boobie.”
He tried to stop listening, but every word of inane banter grabbed him by the scruff and smacked him around. It was unavoidable. People speak loudly in public because everyone else speaks loudly. He couldn’t help but hear people talk about themselves, saying whatever they assumed their friends wanted to hear. Probably quotes from some movie they’d seen together. All they did was validate each other. One by one, they laughed, turn by turn, though no one ever said anything worth acknowledging.
She arrived right on time, and he assured her he hadn’t been waiting long. Points for magnanimity, he reckoned. As she told him about traffic, he listened attentively. She wasn’t interesting, but she loved to talk. Each nod of his head added a tally to his implicit superiority. The less he spoke, the smarter he seemed, and she began to love him, he could tell. Her face was made of love, and it was all directed at him. Sweet, merciful, stupid love. Something within him moved, but no one could tell.
He came first. He always came first. He loved to be first.