“There’s something I have to tell you, Frank.”

“I have a feeling I need to sit down for this.”

“Probably best.”

“Before you tell me, can I tell you something?”

“Oh, Frank. Why must you always do that?”

“Do what?”

“Control the fucking conversation. You’re—”

“I’m what, Alice? Go ahead and say it.”

“What? You’re daring me? Fuck you, Frank. Just, fuck you.”

“That’s very mature.”

“You know. That’s the other thing I hate about you.”

“Hate? You seem a little out of your head, Alice.”

“Enough, Frank. Shut the fuck up and listen for once.”

“I always listen.”

“Bullshit. You might listen but you never hear. You’re too self-absorbed to hear. You’re too goddamned brittle to hear the truth.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s hear it. What’s the truth?”

“You asked for it, Frank. Remember that.”

“Fair enough. Go ahead.”

“Perfect. You really don’t see the irony, do you?”

“Why don’t you go ahead and tell me, Alice. Where’s the irony? What am I not seeing? What am I not hearing? I’ve been sitting here now for, what?, ten minutes?, waiting patiently for you to tell me what you just had to tell me. You had to tell me, knowing full well that I was on my way out the door. So go ahead, Alice, tell me.”

“You love the sound of your own words.”

“What does that mean, Alice? Of course I love words. Words are my life. I’ve dedicated my life to their measured and elegant use. Not that I generally meet that impossible metric. But, very much like my father, and like all the professors and poets who have shared their time and wisdom with me, I do indeed persevere to choose my words with utmost care and intention.”

“You really don’t hear how much of an ass you are, do you? How officious.”

“Nice word, Alice. From your word of the day desk calendar?”

“Can we try to stick to the subject, Frank? God, you are such a prick.”

“Resorting to name calling will yield little. But yes, Alice, I’m listening. Please elucidate.”

“Elucidate. Perfect. So very Frank.”

“Forgive me my powers of expression.”


“Fine indeed. Take a breath, Alice. Calm yourself and tell me what you feel the need to say.”

“I’m plenty calm, Frank. Okay, so here it is. I’ll elucidate you.”

“Please do.”

“I’m leaving you, Frank. I’ve heard enough of your words to last me five lifetimes. I’m leaving tonight.”

“I haven’t kept tally, Alice, but I suspect if I had, I would count at least three dozen times, this year alone, when you’ve said you were leaving. I doubt the veracity of your statements.”

“Veracity. That’s the last straw, Frank. I’ve already packed a bag. I gassed up my car yesterday. I’m leaving tonight.”

“Okay, Alice. Can you make me a sandwich first?”