Chapter 97 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

At eleven minutes before ten o'clock, Dave and the Martian Princess approached the Saturn Cafe. Dave was wearing a black trenchcoat and the Princess wore her red camo jacket.

They stopped, and stood before the door. They gazed at the small icon of Saturn, and presently they heard the familiar click of the door being unlocked.

The Cafe was crowded. The synthesizer music pulsed heavily under the noise of the people. Dave strolled through the crowd towards a small table in the corner, and the Princess followed slowly behind him.

A waitress moved through the pools of light and arrived at their table. "What can I get you?"

"I'll have the roast beef platter," said Dave.

"OK," said the waitress. She noted his order and then looked expectantly at the Princess.

"Saturn salad," murmured the Princess.

The waitress floated away. Dave looked at the Princess, but she looked away, watching the crowd. She seemed sullen.

"Are you feeling OK?" asked Dave.

The Princess shrugged and nodded. "Yes, I feel OK," she said.

Dave drummed his fingers on the table. He could tell that something was bothering his girlfriend, but he didn't know what it was or what to do about it. He looked across the table at her. She was sitting very still, looking beyond Dave at some of the people at other tables.

After a long time, the waitress brought them their food. Dave was hungry and dug into his sandwich, but the Princess just picked at her salad.

"You're not eating," said Dave.

"I'm not very hungry," said the Princess.

Dave was becoming convinced that something was wrong. "What's wrong?" he asked.

The Princess nearly tore his head off. "Nothing!" she hissed at him, with fire in her eyes. "Why do you keep asking me that? Everything's fine, OK?"

"Geez, OK," said Dave.

He continued to wonder what was bothering the Princess, but he no longer dared to asked her about it.

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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