Glen Pourciau ~ Sofa

Tired from shop­ping at the mall, my purse get­ting heavy, I took a rest on a new sofa near the up esca­la­tor.  A woman engaged with her smart­phone sat at the oth­er end, speak­ing loud enough that I couldn’t ignore her side of the con­ver­sa­tion.  She and her hus­band had been tak­en to din­ner by a man who’d spent the evening ask­ing about them but say­ing lit­tle about him­self.  They had “an inkling” that he want­ed some­thing from them, but he nev­er said what he might be sell­ing or why he’d invit­ed them.  Curious, they invit­ed him out to din­ner at a restau­rant “on a sim­i­lar lev­el,” and with them pick­ing up the check the man ordered “every expen­sive thing on the menu.”  She ate only a sal­ad and her hus­band ordered an appe­tiz­er for his main course, yet their bill was “astro­nom­i­cal.”  All dur­ing din­ner they felt they were being “inter­viewed” by the man, though “what was worse was imag­in­ing his unre­vealed thoughts.”  She and her hus­band agreed after­ward nev­er to have din­ner with him again.  “I sup­pose we sound sus­pi­cious,” she said, “and you prob­a­bly think I’m cheap.  I can’t help it.  Whenever we eat din­ner out we don’t order much food or have much to drink, and we’re always amazed at what the bill adds up to.  We think:  does this belong to us?”  She nod­ded, a few times say­ing, “Right, right.”  And “Isn’t that the truth.”  She soon said good­bye and end­ed the call.  She stared ahead, then eyed me.

Guess you got an ear­ful,” she said.

Do you know yet if he want­ed some­thing?”

Her eyes, nar­row­ing, looked straight into mine. She didn’t like the ques­tion.  The annoy­ance in her face annoyed me, and I didn’t avoid her look.  She was in a pub­lic place and knew I was sit­ting there.  What did she expect?  She’d spo­ken to me in a way that implied aware­ness I’d heard her.  Was she wor­ried she sound­ed cheap?

We haven’t heard from him,” she told me.

So it’s up to your imag­i­na­tion.  Or you can give him a call.”

I have a right to sit here,” she huffed.

So what?  So do I.”

I was speak­ing when you sat down.”

Was the sofa there­fore off lim­its?  You’re not rent­ing it, are you?”

It’s a mat­ter of respect­ing bound­aries.”

You’re tram­pling my bound­aries right now.”

I’m stand­ing up for myself.”

On your sofa?  You’re pret­ty stingy with a sofa that doesn’t belong to you.”

Her phone buzzed and she answered it.

Hello,” she said and lis­tened.  “Talking to a jerk on a sofa at the mall.  She thinks she’s enti­tled to intrude.”  She lis­tened.  “My hus­band says I should tell you to leave.”

I’m not going any­where.  You might charge me a toll.”

She shook her head and kept lis­ten­ing.  “I can’t believe he asked us to din­ner again,” she said under her breath.  “Did you say no?  I can feel his hands in our pock­ets.”  She paused. “Who knows?  Look, I’d bet­ter get off.  I feel like I’m being record­ed.”

~

Glen Pourciau’s sec­ond col­lec­tion of sto­ries, View, was pub­lished in 2017 by Four Way Books. His first sto­ry col­lec­tion, Invite, won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. He’s had sto­ries pub­lished by New World Writing, Mississippi Review, AGNI Online, The Collagist, Little Star, New England Review, The Paris Review, Post Road, and oth­ers.