The Paris style bistro, with it’s eight tables and half dozen high-backed booths, is sparsely populated as, Professor Gilbert Johns, a slight man in his sixties, wearing his usual brown plaid suit, is sitting in the last booth in the back fumbling anxiously with his cell phone.
A large bearded man, wearing a cook’s apron over his well-worn jeans and Grateful Dead T-shirt approaches.
“Hi, Professor." As he sets down a glass of water.
Then, noticing an ashtray on the table, he quickly snatches it up.
“You’d think my servers would know you by now.” Shoving it into his apron pouch.
“So what’ll it be tonight, Professor?”
“Hello, Sam. I think I’ll have a glass of chardonnay.”
“Chardonnay? Wait a minute. Are you finally gonna pop the question, you old dog you?”
The Professor’s face reddens.
“Yeah.” he answers with a coy smile.
“Congrats, Professor! As he reaches over the table to shake his hand. “That Patricia is one lucky woman.” He declares, as his large meaty hand engulfs the Professor’s much smaller hand. “Well it’ll be nice seeing her down here on a Friday night for a change. The first glass is on me, Professor.”
Suddenly realizing he may be squeezing the timid professor’s hand too tight, Sam quickly releases it.
“I’ll get that chardonnay right over.” Sam promises as he walks away.
Leaning back in the booth, Professor Johns carefully reaches into the hip pocket of his suit, and produces a small black velvet box. Cautiously, he opens it, revealing a large diamond ring.
Without warning, a drunken patron falls into the table, knocking over the glass of water and spilling its contents on the table, and causing the Professor to drop the ring.
He quickly slides down under the table.
Looking out from under the table, he sees the drunk, who has falling on his hands and knees. He also spots Sam’s well-worn jeans quickly approaching.
“How in the hell did you get in here!” Sam barks, as he reaches down and yanks the person from the floor. “I need someone over here to clean up this table.” he yells over to a group of servers, watching from the bar area.
The awkward Professor bumps his head as he jumps up from under the table. “No!” he shouts, which causes the fast approaching server, to stop in her tracks.
“I mean, its only water. I can wipe it up.” he calmly continues.
“No you won’t.” says Sam, who is holding the drunk by the scruff of his neck.
“Please, let me.” Says the Professor, almost begging.
“Okay Professor.” Sam relents, as he drops a bar towel on the table.
He turns to the server and waves her away, and then proceeds towards the back door with his catch still in hand.
The Professor disappears once again under the table, and desperately feels for the ring.
Ignoring the water that now begins dripping down onto him; the Professor notices the legs of two men standing in front of his booth.
“This is a God Damn mess. Let’s take the next booth.” Says one of the men, as they move away.
Now having secured the ring, the Professor silently and without being seen, pulls himself up from under the table. He feels somewhat embarrassed, as he sits wiping up the water from the table. Why should I feel embarrassed? He asks himself. However, he knew the answer before he finished asking himself the question; He was an incurably shy man. He had been that way since high school. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that he never grew out of his somewhat, feminine physique, he had had been born with. Though he hated his appearance, he accepted it. Besides, he reasoned, Sam was right, Patricia was a lucky woman. But then again, the Professor knew that he was truly the lucky one to have someone like her in his life.
“So what did you find out?” The professor overhears coming from the booth next to him.
“Well, Christopher, she is most definitely cheating on you.” Replies the other man.
“Are you sure, Ben?”
Suddenly, the Professor hears the sound of an envelope opening, and can tell by the sound, that the contents landing on the table are pictures.
Though relieved that they were unable to see him, the Professor still disliked hearing other people’s conversations. He thought of it as, unintentional spying. Which was also one of his favorite oxymoron. To block out the sounds of the men next to him, he turns his attention to wiping off the ring.
“You never told me your wife was such a contortionist.” Ben jokes.
“Oh God, how could she. I gave her everything she wanted.” Christopher heartbrokenly says.
“Obviously not.“ Says Ben, unsympathetically.
The Professor, unfortunately, can still hear the men.
“I can’t tell if it’s Amy. Are you sure it’s her?” Christopher, the now hopeful husband blurts out.
“Listen, dude, You told me she spent every Monday night in this joint, and you told me what booth she always sat in. Plus, you showed me a damn picture of her.”
“It’s just that these aren’t good pictures.”
“Sorry I didn’t get a glamour shot. I figured it wasn‘t the best time to ask her to pose.” Ben snaps sarcastically, as he waves the pictures.
“Put them away!” Christopher orders.
After a few moments of silence, “Who’s the guy?” He reluctantly continues.
“You mean guys?” Ben, matter-of-factly, replies.
The Professor suddenly feels the distraught husband slumps back in the booth.
“So now that you know, do you want me to go forward with what we had talked about? “ Ben continues.
The Professor sits up, and now begins listening to the, suddenly interesting, conversation coming from the booth next to him.
“I, I don’t know.” Christopher hesitates.
“What don’t you know? Her damn reason for screwing every man she meets. Listen, Christopher, the only reason I agreed to run surveillance on her was that you told me, that if I found her cheating, you would give me the first opportunity to…You know, take the bitch out!”
The Professor almost drops the ring again, as he quickly moves back away from that side of the booth.
“Please keep your voice down.” Says the now nervous husband.
“Stop worrying, the booths next to us are empty.” Ben assures him.
“Yes.” The husband finally answers.
“Yes, do it.
“Do what? So there is no confusion, I want you to say it.
“Kill her!” The husband loudly whispers.
Terrified, the Professor looks over at the bar, and unintentionally makes eye contact with the server from earlier.
She starts walking towards his booth.
The Professor, not wanting the two men to know he is there, frantically begins waving her away.
As she nears his booth, she finally gets the message, and veers over to the men’s booth.
As she takes their drink order, the Professor sits trying to figure a way out of his booth without being seen. However, he realizes there isn’t one. He was stuck.
The server gives the Professor a, pissed glance, as she walks back over to the bar.
“I thought your wife never came here on Friday?” Ben asked.
“She doesn’t. She spends Fridays with her mother-” He stops as he assumes that was probably another lie of hers.
“Well she’s here tonight.” Ben calmly says.
“What? Where? Christopher yells as he looks up over the booth.
At the front of the bistro, stands an elegantly dressed, beautiful blonde woman. She slowly makes her way towards the back.
“Well this is perfect timing.” Ben says, as slides out from the booth. “Should we tell her what our plans for her are?” Ben sarcastically jokes.
The husband looks over at the blonde-haired woman as she nears their booth.
“That’s not my wife.”
Ben takes a closer look at the woman.
“Well she’s the one I’ve been tailing for the past week.”
“What booth did you see her in?” The now angry husband asks.
“The one next to us, by the door.”
Realizing that they are probably looking over at his booth, the Professor slinks down.
“I said she sat in the booth by the front door. Not the backdoor!”
“You should have been clearer, damnit!”
The woman gives Ben a seductive glance, and continues past their booth.
“Damn, they could be twins,” Says a disappointed Ben.
At the next booth, the Professor looks up to see, Patricia standing over the table. His jaw drops.
“Hi, Sweetie.” She happily greets him.
Christopher jumps up from his booth. “You‘re an idiot! He hollers at Ben.
Patricia turns to see the angry husband stomping away.
“Wow, I’m glad we don’t have their problems.” Patricia whispers to the professor, as she snuggles up next to him.
Ben tosses a few dollars on the table and turns to leave.
“Excuse me.” A voice behind him calls out.
Ben turns to see the Professor’s head sticking over the top of the booth.
“Yeah, Buddy, what da ya need?” A pissed-off Ben barks.
“Your phone number.” Says the Professor, as he extends a notebook and pen across the top of the booth.
Ben looks over at Patricia, who is refreshing her make-up, and then back at the Professor. A knowing smile crosses his face, as he reaches for the pen and notebook.