I arrived at Short Order straight from the airport. I was the first customer of the day, the hostess unlocking the door as I reached for it. The restaurant was Eve’s choice, a fifteen-minute walk (she hadn’t driven in years) from her condo, in the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax. It looked like the kind of place that would have sold hamburgers and hot dogs to beach bums and bunnies had it been located on the water, only fancy. I sat at a table by the window, sipping a seltzer, my stomach a mess from nerves and travel and being six weeks pregnant, and waited for the woman who once said she believed “anyone who lived past thirty just wasn’t trying hard enough to have fun,” now sixty-nine.
And then the second customer of the day entered. I stood up from my chair, half sat back down, stood up again as I thought, It’s Eve, wait, it can’t be Eve, wait, it has to be Eve. She no longer looked like a bombshell, her hair gray, the cut short and blunt, her clothes a way of covering up her nakedness and nothing more, her glasses, black-rimmed, the lenses thick. She didn’t, however, look like a burn victim either. (Her face had been spared in the 1997 fire, started when she tried to light a cigar, dropped the match in her lap.) She looked, remarkably, unremarkable, an older woman who didn’t give much thought to her appearance out for lunch. She picked up a paper take-out menu from the hostess’s stand, began studying it.
I walked over to her, touched her shoulder. She smiled, toward me rather than at me. And I saw immediately that I’d been wrong about her looking unremarkable. That was the impression she gave from a distance. Up close it was another story. Her glasses were smudged, greasy. She’d applied lipstick to her mouth, only she’d done it haphazardly, a streak of pink on her chin. She had, too, a smell about her. Not body odor—it wasn’t tart or tangy. Something else, something I could almost identify but couldn’t quite, something heavy, sweetish. She said she was starving. Read More