Fleming wondered if the man on the last stool at the end of the bar was being, as he had called her, a smart-ass, or somewhere buried deep in the crevices of his psyche, he had a playful sense of humor. But a sense of humor didn’t match the way he spoke. He had the slow, deliberate, emotionless voice of a serial killer.
The next night, Fleming came in and sat next to the man on the last stool at the end of the bar. She ordered her usual, then turned to him and asked “do you eat?”
With an almost sneer, the man on the last stool at the end of the bar, repeated “do I eat?”
Fleming said, “since you said your name was Forrest Gump, I imaging that you at least eat shrimp…maybe all twenty-one different ways to fix it.”
“Are you asking me to have dinner with you?” he said.
Fleming didn’t miss a beat when she said “thank you. I’d love to, but if we’re going on a date, I think I should at least know your first name. Your real first name. I mean, I can’t keep thinking of you as the man sitting on the last stool at the end of the bar.”
He looked at her and said “not that it matters but, my name is Luke, and you don’t want to go on a date with me. Did anyone ever tell you that you’re pushy?”
Fleming smiled and said “yes. You did and I take that as a compliment.”
Luke turned away from her and said, “then I must have said it wrong.”
Gil, who was rarely out of earshot, looked at Fleming and gave her the “I told you so look.”
Fleming acted like she didn’t hear what he said and asked “shall we meet here or do you want to meet somewhere else?”
Clearly, Luke was irritated. He looked at her and said “we’re not meeting anywhere because we’re not going anywhere.”
Having said that, he got up, took a twenty out of his wallet, tossed it next to his glass and walked out.
Gil walked over and said “I told you. You’re wasting your time.”
Fleming said “at least I got him to tell me his name.” Gil said “yep. You did do that. You know, something happened to him. Something that was so traumatic, he became reclusive and I’d be willing to bet that he’s touch-starved.”
“Touched-starved? What does that mean?” Fleming asked.
Gil said “it means that people who don’t have physical contact of any kind, become touch-starved. People actually die from it. We’re a societal species and we need contact. When we don’t have that contact, we starve from the lack of touch. Some people are so touch-starved for so long, if they don’t die, they actually think they might die if they are touched.”
He looked at Fleming and said “you’re not touch-starved but something’s missing in your life. You come in here and chat and watch, but you don’t really have anyone. If you did, you wouldn’t be in here every night. I won’t pry, but I wonder what your story is. And I wonder, with all the other men in this bar, why you’re so focused on him.”
To be continued_________________________