portion of the artwork for Shane Graber's stories

Shane Graber

So, well, I ask her to happy hour, which I haven’t done since I opened my practice and she showed up asking about the Help Wanted. Shy at first, kind of woman who denies a new hairdo. Fingers rarely poked beyond her sleeves. Vulnerable as a baby pigeon, pigeon-toes completed the effect.

Robin, that old employee? Long gone. This new Robin? Smiles. Speaks professionally, decorates the lobby: a hoe in the corner and tiny tree plants for Arbor Day; calendars of her International Brotherhood of Teamsters dad on Labor Day (and Father’s Day); Styrofoam matzo balls for Yom Haatzmaut.

We hit a joint couple blocks down serving half-price cocktails four to seven. It blasts disco. We go in anyway. She swivels her stool to me.

“I really believe in the work you’re doing.”

“We’re doing. We’re a team here.”

“Well, it’s important. Hypnosis is the future of oral hygiene.”

I raise my glass. “To fear-free dentistry.”

“To no-scare dental care.”

Third round of drinks, a knee brush. Course, I also thought Allison would work, but she turned mean – cocker spaniel-spanking mean.

“It’s shocking to me you even have a vagina.”

“Lucky for you. Dick-less.”

Music goes thump-a, thump-a. I motion for the tab. Robin digs into her tote, knuckles Sudoku books aside for her wallet. I won’t hear of it.

Now a block down, the bar’s beat vibrates. Robin tugs my London Fog.


She holds my cuff.

That was eighty-seven seconds ago.

Now the 36 drives off. Some man runs alongside, slapping.

Back at my place, I find a Simpler Times in back of the fridge and hit the foldout. Tonight I’d kill for even a Serta twin. Back-to-back Three’s Company’s. That Joyce DeWitt. I know, I know. Everyone goes gaga for Chrissy. I’m more the Janet type.

Clap off.

Robin, I hope that guy didn’t wait long for the next bus. Anyway, I think that.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 28 | Spring 2010