“Who’s Sarka?” she accusingly asked me.
“She left a message on the machine. She talks about lunch.”
“Oh, Sarka”, I say, taking off my shoes, my mind working fast.
“Yo, Sarka. Who is she?”
“She’s just a girl I know. We have lunch sometimes.” No sound from the other room as I finish unlacing my shoes.I walk in and she’s sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette. She doesn’t look at me.
“Don’t make a big deal out it. It’s nothing.”
“Why are you having lunches with Sarkas?” I sigh and walk into the bedroom to start taking off my shirt.
“Honey, her father is a Professor of Sociology. I wanted him as a contact for a story.”
I sniff my ripe armpit and consider. “I didn’t tell you about it. It was on the sexual habits of Czechs and how they’ve changed after the revolution.”
“Did you write it?”
“No, not yet.”
“Are you going to?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Then why are you having lunches with Sarkas?” Stupid. I should have said that I was working on it. I’m f*cking tired. Why is she doing this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong.
“You know I’m busy. I’ve been working on an angle. And somebody to buy it. And her father hasn’t been available to see me yet.”
“Ahoj, it is Sarka. Might we go to lunch on Thursday? I thought it would good to be at Pizza Positano as normal. I hope you go well.” She’s standing by the answering machine looking at me (in my boxer shorts).
“Yeah, and what?”
“How many times you go to lunch with her?”
“Just a couple of times. Listen, she’s nice.”
“Is she pretty?”
Do I lie? “Well, I mean, I guess she’s attractive”, hiding my face. Actually, Sarka is a little something more than attractive. Like an exotic car she is bold and sleek with confident and startling curves.
“Attractive?”, her voice taking on undertones of anger.
“Not so attractive. Not as attractive as you”, trying to caress her arms. She pushes me away and walks towards the kitchen. “Listen, I told you. I want to use her father as a source. She likes to practice her English with me. What’s so bad about that?”
“I used to ‘practice my English’ with you”, she says with a vicious stare.
I stammer for a minute, words not formed but coming out anyway. Her stare sees the truth. But what’s so awful about the truth? I’ve had exactly four lunches with Sarka. Each time we’ve been out the conversation and our body language have gotten more intimate. We talk about my relationship with Taza and about her relationship with Scott (a consultant from Canada).
Both of us implying underlying problems; sweet moments of intoxicating melancholy, our hands inching towards each other past our Mattonis, as we sigh and look out the window at the city streets. I make things sound worse with Taza than they are and I suspect she does the same. It isn’t clear if we are playing this game to have something really happen or if the little transgression of these illicit lunches is enough. I know I’ve been starting to hunger for more.
But she can’t know this. And even if she knew, I never laid my hands on the girl; I’ve never been more physically intimate with her than a kiss on the cheek. “Look, we work near each other. I like to break off and have lunch and leave the people I work with. You know nobody I know works out at Andel.”
“Where did you meet her?”, popping out of the kitchen with a large knife in her hand. I look at the knife with real horror for a moment and she produces in her other hand a carrot and scolds me again with her eyes.
“I met her at The R Hacek Bar”, sheepishly.
“The same place we met.” I hear the blade pass through the carrot, solid against the cutting board.
“C’mon, don’t make so much of this. It’s totally innocent. I didn’t do anything.”
“Are you going to have lunch with her again?”
I hesitate before saying no. And the hesitation costs me. She slams the knife down into the sink. She runs into the bathroom with her cell phone and locks the door.
She’ll be in there for a while, sms-ing, crying and calling me names. I’ll talk through the door all night and finally she’ll open up the door, having made me give up my evening after a long day of work, having made me suffer enough.
And then we’ll go to bed and we’ll make love and I’ll think about bodies untouched and reaching out in the dark to me.