“It’s not done,” Bruce blurted before Liza could say a word.
“Good evening to you too, Professor. What’s not done? “ asked Liza. She was juggling her purse, messenger bag, a cigarette butt, and a bag of fast food. He tried to help, but she swatted his hand away.
“I told you, you can call me Bruce.” He was staring at the fast food bag.
“Ok. Good evening to you too, Bruce. What’s not done?” She thrust the bag into his hand, flicked the cigarette butt, and untangled herself from the bag straps.
“The story.” He looked as if he might start drooling, but he laid the bag down on the bench next to him.
“The story? You mean it wasn’t the end when two of the three main characters died, and the third had a mental breakdown and became a bum?”
Bruce winced, “No, there’s another part. More like an epilogue or a sequel. I just…didn’t write it yet.” He was biting his cuticles. She noticed for the first time that his nails were bitten down to the quick. He either remembered himself or he noticed her noticing, because a second later he tucked his hangs under his legs. Liza turned her head to hide a smile. “So, you didn’t like it?” he asked.
“No, it was pretty damn weird, but I loved it,” said Liza. “I like that you wrote it in the form of a children’s story.”
“Why? Is this a test, Professor? ”
Bruce laughed and shook his head, “No, just curious. Most people have found that aspect of my stories disturbing.”
“Ok. Hmm…I liked that part of the story because it was different. You could have written a children’s’ story that was actually meant for children, but where’s the fun in that? You could have told the story like a regular short story for adults, but that would have been boring. Seeing it through Sam’s eyes was almost cruel. You know, anyone who reads this is going to think you’re really demented.”
Liza shrugged, “I meant it as a compliment. I really enjoyed the story, and if you’ll let me, I’d like to read the rest when you write it.”
“Of course,” he said, with a strange smile on his face.
Liza opened the bag and took out two chicken sandwiches. She handed one to Bruce and put the other on her lap. She pulled a can of energy drink from her bag, cracked the top, and placed it on the bench between them. Bruce was already halfway done his sandwich by the time Liza had hers unwrapped. “So, speaking of demented,” she said, “are you going to explain to me how it is that I fell asleep on this bench last week, and woke up the next morning in my bed?”