“Pondering Flannery O’Connor Over Flatbread” or “A Good Man is Hard 2 Find” (Short Story)

Andie was already at the table when they arrived. Michelle and Sabrina had taken the day off from their jobs and spent it as extras in a thirty-minute, independent, post-modern, zombie film. They had decided to celebrate their day of artistic fulfillment with a light dinner at a hip restaurant in Oak Park that served all of its flatbread appetizers on slabs of wood. The latecomers sat down. Michelle and Andie verbally picked up a heated discussion they had begun over text. Sabrina picked dried stage blood off of the side of her nose.

“He has no reason to do that. It’s excessive.” Michelle said.

“He’s extra.” Andie said.

“Who’s extra?” said Sabrina.

“Chris,” Michelle said, tying her matted hair up in a knot, exposing forgotten grease paint behind her ears. “He keeps sending me these really off-the-deep-end texts.” She handed Sabrina her phone. Sabrina scrolled through a series of text bubbles as the waiter came up. Michelle ordered lemonades for the table.

“Regular or pomegranate?”

“Oooo, pomegranate.”

“These are low-key unstable.” Sabrina handed back the phone.

“I know! He breaks up with me, then he misses me, he misses me, he misses me, but he doesn’t want to be boyfriend and girlfriend again.”

“Boys are stupid.” Andie said.

“It’s just so typical of guys in their early twenties,” Sabrina said. “They’re so wishy-washy.”

“He moved back in with his parents because he couldn’t pay his rent. With his no job and all.” Michelle said.

“At least he knows when it’s not working. Aaron is still applying to the Crate & Barrel. How many times do you have to apply to the Crate & Barrel before you realize they obviously don’t want you at the Crate & Barrel?”

“It’s just like, grow up, you know? Stop fucking around.” Michelle said.

The waiter returned with pomegranate lemonades in mason jars with striped paper straws. A collective “Thank you”. Michelle ordered the mushroom flatbread to share. Andie said she really shouldn’t be eating dairy because of her lactose intolerance. It was more out of principal than sincerity; Andie was lactose intolerant, and made sure to let everyone know at every meal that she really shouldn’t be eating dairy, and then she’d eat the dairy.

The girls sipped.

“That’s really it, though.” Sabrina said. “They refuse to grow up.” The girls nodded knowingly like hosts of a daytime talk show. “Like Jack? He’s been out of college for, like, two years and he still lives like a frat star.”

“They go out so much,” Andie said, “I don’t know how they do it.”

“And they just blow all that money. And complain later that they have no money.” This particularly bothered Sabrina, who was particularly frugal.

“Right?” Michelle said, peeling a forgotten latex scar off of her forearm and tossing it behind her. Plunk. Into a neighboring patron’s soup. “You know what I’d love?”

“What?” Andie and Sabrina said in unison. The captive audience sucked aggressively at their pomegranate lemon beverages.

“I would love to have a boyfriend that, when we went out with my friends, like to brunch or something,” a flush peeked out from behind her gray, cracking makeup, “He would offer to pay.”

The audience aww’ed. “Oh my God,” Andie said, wistfully.

“Like, he wouldn’t even have to pay,” said Michelle, a piece of face paint flaking off into her glass. “Just offer.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

The girls sipped.

“But, like,” Sabrina glanced around, making sure no one was listening, “what if he did pay?”

The girls purred.

“Ugh. Imagine.” Andie said with a snarl. She began chewing on her straw.

“I know this sounds old fashioned, but, like,” Michelle said “I think it’d be so nice for a guy to plan dates, and he’d always drive.” She twirled her ice with her paper straw, which was starting to dissolve. This made Sabrina sweat; besides being particularly frugal, she was also a particularly bad driver. She crossed and uncrossed her legs. “Maybe not always drive.” Michelle said. “Just drive sometimes.” Andie licked her lips.

“Mushroom flatbread?” The slice of tree trunk landed with a thud on the tabletop.

“Thank you.” The girls twittered.

“Could we also get a side of fries?” Andie asked. “With truffle oil?”

Michelle and Andie talked the logistics of divvying up the pie while Sabrina picked all of the mushrooms off of one slice and put them into Andie’s mason jar.

“No, you know what would be it?” Sabrina said, popping up from her mushrooms. “Like really it?”

“What?” the others said. They picked up their jars and suckled, eyes wide. Andie held a piece of flatbread to her cheek.

“A guy who told you exactly how he felt about you and was just, totally emotionally available.”

The audience moaned.

“Ooooooooooooh God,” Andie peeled the slice from her face and sucked on a thick glob of cheese. “Imagine.” She said again, this time, through the cheese.

“Like, no texting games or anything.” Sabrina’s voice grew louder, excited by the fantasy of it all. She had started to rise from the table, her hands trembling. “Just real, adult, feelings talk.” She suddenly quieted. She sat down. “Remember how Jack was unhappy for two months and literally didn’t say a word about it until the day he broke up with me?”

“Yeah?”

“The exact opposite of that.” Sabrina rolled a slice into a long tube and swallowed it whole.

“Jack was such a child.” Michelle said, picking up her fork and stabbing it into a slice. It pierced the wood slab, pinning the piece of pie to it. She took the slice to the left instead.

“He was all like ‘Remember in college? Remember how much fun we had in college? Why can’t it be like when we were in college?’ Because we aren’t in college! I’m 22 and life fucking sucks!” Sabrina slammed her fists on the table.

“Truffle fries?”

“Thank you.”

“Tell me about it” Andie said through chewed food. Suddenly, her eyes bugged, she turned to the side and spit her mouthful on the floor. “No, you guys.” A smile twitched onto her face, as if she herself knew what she was about to say was crazy. “You know what’s really. Fucking. It?”

“What?” the girls said. Sabrina gave her straw a tongue bath. Michelle’s glass had emptied and her straw had shredded. She sucked at thin air.

“Picture this.” Andie said, spreading her hands in front of her.

“Yeah?”

“Having a boyfriend,”

“Uh-huh,”

“With,”

“Yeah?” their bodies convulsed, hanging on her every word.

“A full-time JOB!”

The audience growled.

“Imagine, imagine!” They said.

“Like he has regular work?” Sabrina asked.

“Uh-huh,” Andie said.

“And he gets a regular paycheck?” Michelle asked.

“Yes.” Andie said.

“Oh my God,” Sabrina fanned herself. She dunked her hand in her glass, grabbed two ice cubes, and dropped them down her top.

“You guys,” Michelle said. “We need guys like my friend Kristin’s fiancé. Remember that wedding I’m going to be in?”

“Yeah.” The girls said.

“Remember Kristin’s fiancé?”

“Yeah?” The girls voice went up in volume.

“For a job,” Michelle said.

“Yeah?!”

“He does,”

“YEAH?”

Michelle took a breath. “Commercial. Real estate.”

The girls let out a guttural roar. Andie banged her head twice on the table. Sabrina picked up her trendy mason jar and threw it on the floor, shattering the glass. “Imagine! Imagine!” they all screamed. Michelle thrust bursting fistfuls of truffle fries into her gaping mouth.

After several moments of this, the girls found themselves thoroughly tuckered out. They daintily finished their flatbread, asked for the check, split it three ways, and left. As they drove in their separate cars, listening to different radio stations, towards different towns, they each thought, “Yes. A good man is hard to find.”

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Kate Conklin · September 9

    HOWLING. please make a film of this!!

    Like

  2. Sean Bosely · September 13

    Nice Rachel! I love Andie the cheese eating lactose intolerant. And by the way, I have a job and I’m usually emotionally available but I’m taken 😎 . Yeah East coast is different. Non huggers and you have to dress up for dinner. Hope you’re doing well!

    Like

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