Charles and Louis

Louis was a short, quiet, gentle-seeming man, with a balding head and an easy smile. He was sitting on a park bench, leafing through a magazine with a trashy cover, when he looked up and turned his head. “Let’s go to the new Italian place down the block. Bongiorno, I think it’s called?”

“I’d rather not,” Charles scowled, not looking up from his newspaper. Charles was tall, lanky in a pubescent-basketball player way. His grey hair and wrinkled face, however, betrayed his more advanced age, and many found him confusing, if not wholly off-putting, visually.

“Well, where would you suggest then?” Louis asked.

“I don’t know, anywhere but there.” Charles said.

“But how will we know if it’s any good or not?”

“We can go another night, Louie. I’m not in the mood for Italian tonight.” Charles flipped the page of the paper forcefully, the rustling trying to communicate his exacerbation with the conversation.

“You’re never in the mood for Italian!” Louis whined.

“Not often, but after the whole – ”

“I know, I know, incident in Italy.” Louis pursed his lips. “Well, if you’re not for there, you have to decide where.”

Charles sighed, setting down the newspaper. “Why not stay in?”

“We always stay in!”

“Well, we could always…” Charles raised his brow and started shimmying suggestively along the bench toward Louis.

“Sex sex sex, that’s all you think about! I want some damn ravioli!”

Charles stopped, looked down, and picked up his newspaper. “Fine. Why don’t you go then,” he said quietly.

“Oh, no, I just, I didn’t mean…”

Charles flicked the paper, the noise cutting off Louis’s protests. The two sat quietly for a few minutes, Charles turning pages as he read the days’ events, Louis staring blankly out on the pond. A yellow leaf fell from a tree, spinning and flipping its way down to the path in front of them. Two ducks were quacking, flying at each other, battling for dominance, but Louis didn’t notice. Through the park’s fence, a car horn blew.

“Alright, let’s just eat at home,” Louis said, putting his hands on his legs and beginning the long, slow process toward standing.

Charles’ eyebrows furrowed, interrupted again in his reading. Finally he sighed, looking up over the top of the paper. “No. You wanted to eat out, so we’ll eat out.”

“I don’t want to if you’re going to be huffy and mad at me!”

“I won’t be! I just want to read my paper first, is all! Can I do that? Then we’ll go over, see if they have an early-bird special or something?”

Louis’s face slowly spread in a grin. “Yeah, okay! Let’s do that!” He sat back down on the bench, his leg leaning against Charles’, and flipped his magazine open again to pass the time. Charles harrumphed, then pulled his leg away, crossing it over the other. Louis bounced on the bench, too excited about the meal to worry about body language.


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