Okay, I Can Take a Hint by Craig J. Clark

What time is it? Five after? Don’t fret; he could just be running late or something. Maybe he’s having a hard time finding parking. I know how difficult it can be around here at this time of day. I even showed up ten minutes early because I didn’t want to risk being late.

At least I know he can’t be lost because he’s the one who picked this place. I don’t even drink coffee, but, as I figured there would be, there’s hot chocolate or fruit juice if I want to go either of those routes. I’ll wait until he shows up to order, though. There’s nothing more pathetic than sitting in a coffee shop and drinking hot chocolate by yourself – if you don’t have a laptop, that is. I suppose I could have brought mine, but frankly I didn’t think I’d need to.

Ten after. Where the hell is he? It can’t be taking him this long to park. And if he were running late, he would call. I made sure he had my cell number. I do have my cell phone on, right? Yes. And I haven’t missed any calls. So what’s going on? Is he standing me up? Man, I hope not. I really like the guy and we’ve had some great conversations on Instant Messenger. How long should I give him before I give up hope and just go home? Fifteen minutes? Twenty? I’m not about to hang around until the place closes “just in case.” That would be extra pathetic – and desperate. I don’t think I’m that desperate. Yet.

Fifteen after. God, I wish I had something to read. A book, a magazine – even a newspaper would do. Is this the only coffee shop in the city that doesn’t have the free weeklies delivered? I would go outside and find a trust box, but I don’t want to leave just in case he shows up while I’m gone.

Then again, I would only be gone for a minute or two. Do I really think he’s going to show up, scan the shop and then immediately leave once he sees I’m not there? I’ve waited fifteen– No, seventeen minutes for him. The least he could do is wait a couple minutes while I go out and get a paper. Of course, if he does show up while I’m gone, I won’t need the paper anyway, so why bother going? I’ll just stay here. He’ll be along any minute. He has to be. He just has to be.

Twenty after. I think it’s time to start facing facts. He’s not going to show. If he were going to show, he would have shown by now. If he were running late, he would have called by now. If he had gotten into an accident– Well, if he were seriously injured he wouldn’t be able to call me, so I would need to give him the benefit of the doubt in that case. Still, I doubt he’s been in an accident. In fact, I doubt he’s even left home. He’s standing me up deliberately. What a jerk!

But wait a second, what if he’s not doing it on purpose? What if it just slipped his mind? He doesn’t seem like the forgetful type, so I don’t think he would make a date and then forget about it. And he is the one who made the date. I do have the right date, right? I remember writing it down the moment he suggested it. Yes, it was today at five. That was twenty-three minutes ago. And this is the right place. I got the address off the Internet and everything. Should I order something? I’m pretty thirsty. No, how would it look if I were already halfway through my drink when he walked in the door?

Oh, who am I kidding? He’s not showing up. If he were going to show up, he would have shown up by now. It’s twenty-six after. Nobody, but nobody shows up twenty-six minutes late for a date. Or maybe they do and I’m just showing my inexperience. I’ll give him until half past. If he hasn’t shown up by then, I’m walking.

I wonder what might have happened to make him change his mind about meeting me. Stop. I don’t want to start going down that road. If I start second guessing everything that I did and said to the guy, I’ll go crazy. And the last thing I need to do is start wondering whether it was a good idea to send him those pictures he asked for. It was a reasonable enough request. The pictures I have on the online dating service are a couple years old, so why wouldn’t he want to see some more recent, full-body nude pictures? If the problem is that I’m not his type, I wish he had said so instead of cowardly stringing me along.

Half past. I’m walking. Sorry, coffee shop owner. You will not be getting my business tonight. I think on the way home I’m going to stop at the supermarket to get some ice cream. Tonight is a night for ice cream.


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I was going to put off reading this for a bit because it looked so long, but then I read that first paragraph and I was hooked. I don't know what it is you do to make that sort of thing happen, but I am insanely jealous.

I think this had an even better build-up of tension than the previous story, especially as I have been in situations like that. The part about not even wanting to grab the paper hit pretty close.

I like how the twist sort of sneaks in a few paragraphs short of the ending, too. It's good that it ends as it does, with a nod to ice cream; ice cream is pretty neat stuff.

One of the bigger differences between your character and me is that, sad to say, I myself would probably have waited until closing time.


Anyway, another good one. I'm pretty wowed by how you've been able to keep the ideas for this sort of thing going for so long now and how they've managed to evolve.

I tried to comment on this one yesterday -- via my phone -- but said phone and reCAPTCHA didn't get along very well so my comment was gobbled. I'll try to "recapture" my previous comment.

I think you've cornered the market on hopelessly-pathetic protagonists, Craig. Often unaware of their own neuroses (only half-true in this story), they seem to bumble into situations that are beyond their social/personal abilities. It works really well because we all have insecurities and issues, so even if the characters are quite a bit more flawed than the average person, anyone can relate. It doesn't hurt that your sense of humor (in this case, the full-body nude photo bit got me) is always there to help add a bit of levity to any heavy situation you present. Good stuff.

I'm glad you both liked it. When this story went a couple days without a single comment I was worried that people were refraining because it was dud. I even considered deleting it. Such is the insecurity of the creative artist.

Craig, your stuff is always good -- don't delete anything. I understand that whole staring into a vacuum and waiting thing all too well. It's really hard to put time and effort into something only to have no one look at it or, worse, have people look at it but no one cares. I textual information on the web is really hard to pull off, so I'd consider the fact that people consistently visit your written work a victory.

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This page contains a single entry by published on May 8, 2008 2:00 PM.

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