They were sitting cross-legged at the low table waiting for the waiter to take the man’s credit card. They had been waiting for a long time and no waiter had appeared and now the man’s legs had fallen asleep.
“I don’t even know how you feel about me,” she said.
“I think you don’t know how to feel about anyone,” she added.
The man poked a chopstick into a mound of green wasabi. There was still no waiter. He took out his wallet and counted out enough cash to pay the bill. He had only dollar bills and they made a large pile on the plastic lacquered tray that held the bill. The money was the same color as the wasabi. He put his credit card back in his wallet and started to get up. But his legs were asleep and he hadn’t gotten a receipt. He needed a receipt.
“Come on. Say something,” she said. “Say anything.”
He looked at her. “Do you know how many times we have had this conversation? We’ve had this conversation eighty times.”
She walked on her knees across the tatami mats. She knocked the lacquered tray off the low table. For a moment there were dollar bills everywhere.
The man pressed his hands to his temples. There were grains of rice and pieces of dead fish on the table in front of him. “Eighty times. I have counted.”
She sat on the edge of the mat to put on her shoes. The man gathered the dollar bills wearily. “Eighty times, God damn it.”
The customers in the restaurant were looking at them. “On Wednesday it was 78. On Friday, 79.” The man’s hands were filled with dollar bills. “And now 80. Eighty God damn times.”
“It’s the last time we will have this conversation,” she said as she left.
The man sat at the table by himself. The dollar bills were soggy with soy sauce. A lone grain of rice had fallen on the polished wooden floor next to the mats. He picked up one of his shoes and smacked the grain of rice as if it were an insect. “Christ,” he said shaking his head, “eighty times. I counted them. I counted every God damn one.”
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Sushi originally appeared in Gargoyle Magazine