Sip, Chew, and Spit

I’m sitting here at Longhorn Steakhouse for my girlfriend’s birthday. You know, typical big-plate, meat-and-potatoes kind of food you can get for $20 with some to take home later. My eyes have been gleaming at the T-bone special, making my stomach grumble under the table. Her father is half bull and he’s unapproving of my taste in food. He exhales through his large nostrils and I can feel the snotty waft in my face. She kicks my foot underneath. It’s our thing we do. I nudge her back with the side of my shoe, smile. The server comes to take our order, beverages in tow. I take my Blue Moon pint and put it to my lips. I get a hint of the orangey taste when a moo rumbles outward like an earthquake. Her father says, “Woah, woah. You can’t drink that!” I ask why I shouldn’t. “There’s a chip in the glass. Here, I insist.” I grimace as he pulls my glass away. I kick my girlfriend with two light tiptoe taps. That’s code for what the fuck. She repeats but adds a heel strike. That’s code for just go with it. All the while, her mother—half brown cow—sits there, sipping chocolate milk.
**
I have a blast eating the fried shrimp, especially with my beer. Main courses come soon after and I get that delectable T-bone steak. It’s sizzling, grease bubbling off the hunk. I dig my fork in and some blood spurts upward. I hear some incoherent mumbling and look up, meat dangling from my fork. “I can’t believe you’re dating a beef-eater,” her dad says, hooves crossed across his barreled chest. I take one look at his plate: grilled chicken breast with broccoli and a baked potato. I shout back, “And you’re a cow eating chicken. In a steakhouse. Nothing matters anymore.” I rise, her father to meet me. I can feel her tapping my clenched calf muscle like a bird pecking the ground. That’s code for stop. My hand snaps to my steak knife but doesn’t make it. Next thing I know, my chest caves in from a hard-hoofed blow. I hit the ground, the fork lands on my collarbone. I get one last chew in before the stomp plummets, the bull-man, enraged. A brownie cake with a single candle sitting on the counter, ready to serve.

Josh Dale is a graduate student, publisher, freelance editor, and subservient vassal to his Siamese cat. His work has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Breadcrumbs Mag, Page & Spine, and elsewhere. More can be found at his site/blog, joshdale.co and his IG & Twitter @jdalewrites.

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