“You know what I miss?” he asked. “I miss flirty banter with some chick you barely know, filled with all kinds of innuendo and other serious-sounding bullshit. And both of you knowin’ that it didn’t mean anything, but lapping up those positive vibes from each other because, well, in a different time and place, maybe it might mean something. You know what I mean?”

The second man, maybe forty, maybe older, blew out a smoke ring that he tried to not appear surprised to have blow because it had never worked when he tried. He didn’t answer right away. It could wait. He sipped at his coffee and placed it back on the deck railing.

“Yep. Good times.”

The first man, around the same age, likely slightly older scratched his chin through the tangle of beard he wore and never really got around to trimming because no on seemed to care how he looked anymore. He’d seen better days, not that you could tell by the rings lining the bottom of his eyes.

“Can’t seem to do that anymore. Dunno if it is the times, or what. Flirting scares ’em away, now.”

He took a sip of the coffee he’d rested on the beer belly he’d collected since his teen years. It wasn’t a big belly, but there was definitely a cooler on that six-pack he once sported in his youth.

“You know,” man number two said, not looking at man number one. “I don’t think it’s the flirting what scares them away.”

The first man sat up. “Whatcha think it is?”

“That train-wreck of your face is what scares the shit outta the ladies. I don’t have any problem.”

The first man slugged the second in the shoulder. “Asshole.”


He sat back, shrugged. They sat in silence, watching the loons out on the lake, drinking coffee as the sun went down.

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