He flips open a menu. I slip a quarter

into the table-top juke box, punch up

“Thunder Road,” try to remember

who died, who got married the last time

we saw each other. The waitress pours

coffee. He orders cottage cheese, fruit,

tells me he runs marathons now. I want

pancakes, bacon and eggs. I can feel

his eyes poking my belly, explain

“I still shoot hoops two nights a week.”

He slides a card across the table.

The letters of his name are slanted

like the sleek curves of a sports car.

It says he’s some kind of consultant.

Computers. Graphic design. I put it

in my pocket, stare out the window,

watch long lines of people burrow

into the subway. He adjusts his tie,

asks if I’m still trying to save the world.

I admit I run a group home for retarded

kids, that I started writing again.

The waitress asks, “Everything okay?”

He’s still married to Janey,

their second child’s due in June.

This time, he wants a son. I’m tired

of living alone. I miss Erica.

Bad. He shakes his head, says

“You’re just not getting laid enough.”

I laugh, ask “Does it show?”

All I know, is that when I get home,

open my apartment door and slide

my hand down the wall, it takes

longer each night to find the light.

When the waitress clears the dishes,

he points to his cup for a refill.

I pick up the check, figure out

my half. He stirs milk in, lifts

his cup with two hands. “My father

passed away a month ago. Bone cancer.

Got so bad, I had to force myself

to visit the last few weeks.”

I reach across the table, fold my hands

over his, help him put the cup down.

Originally published in Kkidrow Penthouse

Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City and managed group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn for 40. years. He’s retired, pretending he’s happy being older and wiser. His work has appeared in Rattle, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, BODY, Vox Populi. His most recent book, What Kind Of Man published by NYQ Books, was a finalist for the 2020 Paterson Poetry Prize. His new collection Here On Earth will come out this year with NYQ Books.