Date: November 15
Time: 8:35 PM
The scene: Joey Wong’s. The table is set for two, but Jason sits alone, fuming, under the leering gaze of a Maneki-neko cat sculpture on a shelf. She’s over half an hour late for their date. Jason is an uncommonly punctual person (although perhaps not abnormally so for a tax examiner) and despises tardiness in others. Besides… (his mind races)... this wouldn’t be the first time she has stood him up. What could be keeping her? Could it be him again?
He scowls at the waiter and orders another pint… his third, or fourth? He almost loses count, but then retraces the evening in his mind… one beer when he sat down, the second after he left the sharp cell phone message at Andrea’s apartment, the third right after that old Italian guy came in with those two thick Tony-Soprano-types, and this is the fourth. Well, then. Jason derives some small satisfaction from sorting out that account.
With nothing to do but wait, Jason studies the restaurant’s other patrons. The old Italian is having some kind of animated conversation with his companions—lecturing them, even. At another table, an elderly couple: a man with a handlebar mustache and a matronly woman with a fur stole eat quietly and wordlessly. At one end of the bar, a prostitute, straight out of central casting—fishnet stockings and all. At the other, a Catholic priest nurses a cup of coffee which he supplements from time to time from a flask.
The door opens, and she finally arrives…