WAITING • by Gary Zenker

“Why do guys die first?” my friend Bob asked the new guy sitting on the bench.

New Guy looked up and squinted as the light was silhouetting Bob’s and my standing figures from behind, probably offering a halo effect. “I don’t know. Why?”

“Because they want to.” Bob laughed. There was a moment of silence as New Guy looked to his left and right. With no one in sight, he laughed hard, as if he had been told the funniest joke ever.  I laughed, too. It could be the fiftieth time Bob has told the joke but I still laugh every time. Then they exchanged a silent look, as though they shared a secret.

“Beautiful view from here,” New Guy commented.

Bob nodded. “Been here long?”

“No, I just got here last week.”

“The wife?”

“I need to check the schedule. Soon, I expect.”

“Well, unless she makes a detour to play with old Henry.” Bob smirked.

New guy held a serious look for a second, then burst out laughing again. “We don’t know a Henry.”

Bob stared New Guy in the eyes. “Everyone knows a Henry. Sometimes his name is actually Henry. Sometimes it’s Fred or Tim or Francois. I hate when they have French names.”

“I don’t think so. She’s not like that.”

“You never know. That’s the one problem leaving women alone. There’s always a Henry. There was a point when I was a Henry. I remember me and the women from the club when the husbands were out working and ogling their secretaries. Ooh la la.”

“I don’t believe I have anything to worry about.” New Guy’s tone turned terse.

“Stop goading him.” I finally spoke up to diffuse the tension. Bob is a good friend but sometimes doesn’t know where to draw the line.

“So whatcha gonna do today?” I asked Bob, redirecting the conversation.

“The same thing I get to do every day. Smoke some cigars, play some golf. The landscaping on the course is really heavenly.” Bob smiled, clearly pleased with himself. “Wanna join?” he directed to New Guy.

“I really never played,” New Guy offered in return.

“Not a problem,” Bob said. “We can teach you. You might get good before the wife rejoins you.”

“It would fill the time. When are you expecting yours back? How long do you have?”

“Five years, two months and four days.” Bob smiled. “I checked the arrival schedule.” Then, unexpectedly, a sudden sadness overcame him. The smile slid from his face as he looked down. His body slumped as he lightly kicked at the air.

“You can play a lot of golf in that time.” New Guy offered.

Bob lifted his head and a smaller smile returned to his face. “Yep. Plan to.”

“Okay, I’m game.” New Guy stood up. “Which way to the course?”

“Just to the left, past the second fluffy cloud.”

Gary Zenker is a marketing professional who spends his days creating business strategy and marketing content. His nights are filled with creating memorable characters and stories in flash fiction format. He is the founder and facilitator of two writers groups in Pennsylvania, helping authors to better their craft. Gary is the co-author of Says Seth, written with his then six-year-old son, author of Meetup Leader, editor of a 23 book Rock & Roll Archives series and creator of the soon-to-be-released WritersBloxx writers tool and party game. His marketing and fiction have won over a dozen awards combined.

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