Oh Brent, what happened? Where was the jet-black goatee painted to the sculpted chin? Where were the biceps and pecs that mocked the merest hint of a belly crowning beneath?
Bloody cheek on the man, using a ten-year-old photo for his dating profile.
Brent’s face wore a circle of grey fluff set roughly to the bottom of a circle of flesh, all sitting atop a tube of pink squeezed out from the too tight collar of his denim shirt. If he still had the muscles, they were living in fear of the monster belly beneath.
Alison had cringed at using a one-year old photo, but she had to – it was taken before she lost all the weight and she still had her boobs.
It would have been okay if even a tenth of the wit and repartee she had seen in is profile had come with him to the restaurant.
Alison said, ‘Your work. You’re in computers?
A couple sat down at the table to their right. The clink of tableware, swirl of water. Quiet rustle as napkins were unfolded.
Alison said, ‘Music. That’s something you like too.’
Alison said, ‘Any favourite bands?’
Brent nodded. Flatly, as though he was describing the prevailing weather, he said, ‘Sliver of Light, Clogged Plughole?’
Alison smiled and sipped some water. There was a snort of laughter from the neighbouring table and Alison’s smile deepened. Perhaps that guy was a telepath and he’d read her mind: Clogged Plughole? Named after your personality was it, mate?
Alison wracked her brains for another conversation starter. Stamp collecting, Star Trek – his blow-up doll collection?
Brent said, ‘Do you hear that sound? Like…a train?’
Alison shook her head. ‘I don’t think it’s a train. It sounds more like a-‘
The entire front window of the restaurant exploded inwards, the cheap imported Saftee glass breaking into lethal shards that soared across the restaurant a split second in front of the happy headlights and cab of the driverless tram that had launched its way into the story. The shards of spinning glass chopped into heads and bodies, seemingly at random, and yet, there was almost a precise order to the butchery.
The sharp elbows and outsized breasts that had been declaring loudly that willpower was all one needed to stay looking so beautiful and thin would never guzzle down a Big Mac and burn it off thanks to her metabolism again. The man who looked a bit like Donald Trump was actually a lovely chap, but sometimes trams sent from the future to save us from perfunctory stories just have to go with their gut. The snooty wine waiter would find it hard to snoot much of anything without his legs, knees, toes or eyelids.
And Brent. Poor Brent. His body had become a pin cushion for shards of glass. He was still alive, but the gurgling sounds he made as blood dribbled from his mouth had improved his personality beyond measure.
Ding! said the tram. It’s me! Who wants to be friends.
Sadly, no one there spoke Tramese, so the poor, friendless tram backed sadly way and out of the story forever.
An oblivious teenage waiter chose this moment to arrive with Alison’s burger and chips. Possibly not the done thing, but she’d been starving herself all bloody week. She ate with gusto. And ketchup. And Brent’s fries, and his burger. Well, come on, after the lucky escape she just had, wouldn’t you?