Bruce took a sip of his coffee and checked his watch—7:02pm. Clark agreed to meet with him at Mel’s Diner for a quick bite at 7:00pm. Bruce worked nights. His shift was going to start soon. He hated being late. His phone buzzed from inside his coat pocket—a text:
Almost there. Sorry.
As soon as Bruce tucked his phone back into his coat, the entrance bells jingled. Bruce looked over his shoulder to see Clark walk through the door, adjusting his tie.
“You’re late,” Bruce said.
“I know, sorry. Work was crazy. I had to put out a ton of fires,” Clark said, as he slid into the booth.
Bruce signaled to the waitress for one more coffee.
“So what’d you want to talk about?” Clark said with the Midwestern twang and exuberance that Bruce secretly hated.
Bruce took a deep breath. He took a long draw of his coffee. The waitress placed another cup on the table for Clark. He looked down into his coffee, then back at Clark, meeting his goofy gaze.
“Lois,” Bruce said, breaking the silence.
“Lois?” Clark said. “What about her?”
“You two have been broken up for a while now.”
Bruce cleared his throat.
“What are you getting at, Bruce?”
Bruce searched for his next words carefully, shaping them on his tongue. “Would you mind if I took a run at that?”
Clark’s eyes widened. The blue in his eyes looked brighter than usual, Bruce thought.
“Of course, I mind,” Clark said. “What kind of question is that?”
Bruce caught his reflection in Clark’s glasses. He could see the heat, the fury building behind Clark’s eyes. He looked down into his cup again, half empty.
“The thing is, this is more of a courtesy, and less seeking your permission,” Bruce said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Clark said.
“We’ve actually been seeing each other for the past couple months. It’s getting serious.”
“She’s considering moving to Gotham,” Bruce said. “Into my place.”
Bruce could see Clark’s grip tightening around his mug, veins protruding out of his muscular forearms.
“How long has this been going on?” Clark said.
“Please don’t be upset.”
“Six months,” Bruce said. “I felt obligated to tell you. I didn’t want you finding out from someone else.”
Clark’s mind spiraled. He wanted to punch his friend in his perfectly squared chin. Or reach across the table and grab him by the throat. Or plunge his hand into his chest and rip his beating heart out. His fist clenched tighter, and tighter, around the mug until it crumbled in his hand. Hot coffee spilled all over the table, but Clark was unfazed. He reached for the napkin dispenser to clean up his mess.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Clark said. “Because as soon as we both leave this place, we’re no longer friends.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way, but I can respect that.” Bruce checked his watch again. “I should get going. Duty calls.”
Bruce pulled a money clip out of his coat pocket and placed a $100 bill on the table, away from the sopping mess. He gathered his belongings and stood to leave. He paused and looked back at Clark.
“If it makes you feel any better, I was supposed to just be a rebound,” Bruce said.
“That’s just super, man.”
Eisen Yoon is a poet and short-story writer. He earned his B.A. in English from UCLA. A proud Bruin and Angeleno, he spends much of his free-time fighting traffic and hopelessly rooting for UCLA Football, the Dodgers, and the Lakers.