A Gross of Envy
He sat and watched the couple in a mix of outward disgust and regret, through his car windshield and the dust-caked windows of the convenience store.
He turned up the knob of the air conditioner, loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of the once-crisp oxford shirt, which had grown limp and somewhat dampish in the Texas heat.
His eyes never left the couple.
She sat with her back turned three-quarters to the window, a plump woman with pouty shoulders and hair the color of a mouse turd that she tied up into a ponytail. She wore a surgical scrub top the color of bubblegum. She laughed easily at the man’s stories, and each time she heard something particularly funny, her shoulders would wobble.
The man was huge, and not in a pleasing way. All rounded edges, lumps and bumps. He wore a white V-neck T-shirt under thin leather suspenders; a tuft of course chest hair protruded from the V, like a weed that sprouts from a crack in the concrete. His jowls shook when he talked, as did his supple man-tits.
He talked. A lot.
Her shoulders trembled in quick response.
He stretched tanned, manicured fingers upward from the leather-covered steering wheel and watched the scene unfold through the dual panes of glass. An uneasiness hung in his belly, but he couldn’t turn away.
The behemoth masticated on a burrito the store sold in a heated case near the do-it-yourself coffee and soda machines. The woman worked on a foot-long hotdog with the works, chunks of white onion falling like hail onto the red Formica tabletop in the store’s excuse for a dining room.
His mobile rang. Her favorite song. He sucked air into his lungs through his nose, one long hissing intake.
“It’s 7:30, where the fuck are you? We have a house full of people.”
“Getting ice, as you requested. Do we need one bag or two?”
“Jesus Christ. Three, I told you, three bags of ice. And hurry it up, would you? You’re seriously pissing me off.”
The screen went dark and he tossed the mobile haphazardly onto the black leather passenger seat and wove his fingers around the steering wheel and shook.
Yet his eyes never left the couple.
The hulk was nearing the terminus of another story, the pudgy fingers of his left hand making a point as the right held what was left of the burrito. Her shoulders vibrated uncontrollably.
And in an instant, he snatched a wadded ball of paper napkins from the tabletop and dabbed at the woman’s mouth before he planted a wet and sumptuous kiss upon her lips. She put both her hands around his massive head and massaged the buzz cut stubble.
Their embrace finally broke, and they quivered into more laughter.
And through two panes of glass and the oppressive Texas heat, he dabbed at his watery eyes with the corner of his silk tie, envious.