The Biggest Small Town in America

He heard that people who move to Philly either love it or hate it, no in-betweens. Nearly two years have passed since his arrival and, decidedly, he counts as one of the lovers. After a period of shyness, he met Rose the same way he met most of the people he knows in the city – by being himself and having the balls to do what he felt was the right thing at the time. In the case of meeting Rose, having balls and doing what felt right just meant pushing his way through a crowd of people to get her a drink at a party where he'd caught a look in her eye of hopeless frustration.

When his dinner guests begin to arrive, he's preparing a salad. He expects nine people, five of whom he knows. The other four are Rose's friends Suki and Annabeth plus their boyfriends, and this little group arrives last, knocking on his rented row home door just as he removes a roast from the oven. Suki and Annabeth hug Rose and wish her a happy birthday while the others all introduce themselves. He places the roast on top of the stove and joins them in his living / dining room, where he immediately recognizes Suki and Annabeth's boyfriends. A sudden feeling of having come full circle in Philadelphia overtakes him.

"Linc, hey," says Rose, "come meet Suki and Anna and their boyfriends, Garret and Joe."

"Hey, I'm Garret, thanks for having us." A hand extends and he shakes it.

"Yeah, thank you. I'm Joe." Another handshake.

"Nice to meet you guys, I'm Lincoln, everyone calls me Linc. Welcome. I hope you eat meat?"

Both men nod.

"Well alright. You guys look familiar, by the way." He considers mentioning the day when he spoke with them briefly at 700, but decides against it.

Garret and Joseph shrug, and Garret says, "We're around."

They eat dinner and talk about their lives and the city and how the ones who know each other know each other, and he's so happy he can hardly contain himself. The beers go down too easily and he worries that he talks too much and that he overcompensates for talking too much by seeming too interested in everyone else. Did he come off like a zealot for land bank legislation? Did he ask Suki too many questions about the pet rabbit her friend lets roam freely around her finished basement?

Everyone seems to have enjoyed the meal, or at least they tell him so when they leave. It never feels right for him to ask men for their phone numbers, so he doesn't ask Garret and Joseph for theirs, but he thinks next time he sees them around the neighborhood, they'll remember tonight's dinner.

7 comments:

  1. Funky idea hyperlinking his memories like that! That's a really neat way to augment the fiction. Strange Horizons would be proud.

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  2. I followed the link to the "700" it seems good things did come out of that chance meeting after all. I wish Linc well, he seems a genuinely nice guy, and as for talking too much after a few beers... Don't we all? :)

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  3. You captured those anxious feelings we all have at some time or another very well Richard. Great work!

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  4. I had to follow the link, too, very interesting way to interject memories. It seems it worked out for him!

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  5. Linc is an interesting, but problematic character for me -- on the one hand, it's great he's so pro-active, but on the other hand I wonder if he's trying too hard, too consciously (and too indirectly). This story shows him in a more positive light and makes me think better of him.

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  6. Really nice story - like the link to his previous encounter with the two guys, glad they are beginning to make friends...

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  7. I followed that 700 link too - I hope they do remember him next time. The story shows his vulnerable side - it's like he wants to not seem anxious but is. Good tie up from the previous flash. ^_^

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