Fiction  September 2014 | issue 465

The Life She's Been Missing

by Greg Ames

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Greg Ames is the author of the novel Buffalo Lockjaw. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Hamilton, New York, where he is an associate professor at Colgate University. His collection of stories, Funeral Platter, will appear in October 2017.

After the film, Addie stands under the dripping marquee and shakes open her cheap umbrella, a simple move that attracts the attention of a man loitering by his BMW. He saunters over to her with the breezy confidence of a local somebody, plucks the red plastic coffee stirrer from his mouth and tucks it in his breast pocket. A weird gesture, she thinks, a bit gross, but kind of endearing.

“Your umbrella’s shot,” he says.

Addie nods and looks down at her cellphone. No missed messages. It’s definitely on, but nobody has called.

Dimitri is probably having sex right now with one of the waitresses at the bar, probably Marissa-from-Greenpoint, the short one with the pretty singing voice and the nine-year-old son.

“Did you like the movie?” he asks.

This one has a matador’s face, she thinks, insolent and beautiful. “It was all right. Kind of shallow and derivative, but I didn’t really expect much going into it.”

Derivative. That should scare him.

“Agreed,” he says. “That flick was bullshit.” He arches his neck and lampoons the American actors’ failed British accents — Blewdy hell, it’s pissin’! — and in spite of herself, Addie laughs.

His name is Rob, he says. And hers?

Four minutes later he’s strolling to his BMW with her number in his cellphone.

Back at her apartment Addie keeps checking her phone. No missed messages. To take her mind off Dimitri and Marissa, she flips open her laptop and scrolls through responses to her online-dating profile.

Suitor 11: “You, me. Let’s make it happen. Limited-time offer. Don’t miss out.”

Suitor 17: “Greetings. My name is Martin Josovich. I am a retired History teacher. I am seventy-three years old, but I’m blessed with more joie de vivre and enthusiasm than men half my age. My dear Sadie, may she rest in peace, could testify to this. Were she watching me, and I believe she is, she’d be saying, ‘Get out there, Marty. Meet someone new.’ Help me make her wishes come true.”

Addie closes her laptop with a sigh, wondering if she made a mistake by giving Rob her number. He is, after all, a complete stranger. He could be violent or boring. He probably won’t even call. Of course he won’t call.

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