Third Wheel

Weekly Wednesday by David Kaplan

As usual, Andrew Pesserman was running late. Well, technically, he wasn’t running. Propelled only by his overweening optimism – or was it cheerful indifference to others’ time? – he was barely walking briskly

Maybe Jon and Anne would cancel at the last minute. That was a “half-hope” he held when he forced himself out of bed at twenty minutes after nine. Why did they always want to meet for coffee? And why couldn’t they arrange a time in the afternoon? Morning coffee should be a solitary affair, like brushing your teeth or taking a dump. You needed to clear your head first thing before having to face anyone. Especially these two.

Pesserman heaved the café door open and saw Jon and Anne seated side-by-side at small, square table with their backs to the wall. Their hands on the table, they looked wedged between the table and the wall. Coat hooks were loosely nailed inches above their heads. As Pesserman took his seat facing them, he saw they were already done with their coffee.

Before he could breathlessly express sorry for being nine minutes late, Anne spoke.

“We’ve decided to break up with you,” Andy. Pesserman winced, as he hated to be called “Andy.”

“What? I didn’t even know we were a thing!” Pesserman said, thinking she was joking. He then thought it odd, because Anne has never demonstrated a sense of humor before. He turned and motioned for the waitress. “Can I get a large cappuccino?”

“‘Grande’ or ‘Extra Grande,’” the waitress said robotically.

“Extra Grande,” Pesserman said with mock momentousness. “And extra sugar. Thanks.”

Jon spoke when Pesserman turned back to face them. “Anne’s serious, Pesserman. We can’t see you anymore.”

“I’m sorry, am I missing something? I wasn’t aware I was involved in a love triangle. I mean, we never even got to second base, Jon!” Pesserman said with an air of bemusement. He also hated to be called “Pesserman.” Why did people find it so hard to call someone by their first name?

“We heard what you said to Natalie and Jim,” Anne said. “You made fun of the way our apartment smells. Do you know how much we spend on aromatherapy? It’s a part of our self-care. And you don’t respect that. You don’t respect us.”

“You even said that it’s people like us that make other people vote for Trump,” Jon added, his pointed chin leaning across the table as if he were going to headbutt Pesserman. He pulled back and collected himself, gripping the lapels of his blazer for emphasis.

“Oh god, I never said any of that,” Pesserman said. He was lying. “How could you believe Natalie and Jim? They’re complete assholes! They nearly killed their cat by feeding it chocolate! And you know they didn’t even vote in the presidential election. Fuck those two!”

Anne and Jon stared at Pesserman with a mix of muted fury and disappointment.

The waitress practically tossed the cappuccino on the table in front of Pesserman. A drop jumped from the cup and singed the back of his hand. “Hey. Don’t tell them I said that, okay?”

One thought on “Third Wheel

  1. Thanks, thanks. A delight. And, yes, they are why people vote for Trump. Exactly.

    “I didn’t know we were a thing!” Ha!


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