Two Old Men at the Dead Stone Café

Wayne called Gil because he was feeling worse than usual and he could always depend on Gil to feel worse than he did, which was a comfort to him. This was a month before both received the dire diagnoses that would soon end any chance Wayne had of finishing his long-gestating novel and put an end to Gil’s protracted efforts to write the kind of poetry that had never before been written. It was lungs that would get Wayne; liver would finish off Gil.

 “So you really think I look good?” Wayne took a deep breath that didn’t seem to go anywhere near his lungs and looked into Gil’s yellow-tinged eyes.

 “Good is a strong word,” said Gil.

 “Good is a good word, but pretty damn ordinary.  I like crepuscular. Now that’s a damn good word.”

 “Are you saying you want to be crepuscular?” Gil seemed to be talking directly to his fifth glass of beer. It was losing its head.

 “We could do worse.”

 “I’m not sure I want to be crepuscular,” said Gil, “unless I can do it sitting by the window of my cabin in the woods.”

 “Why hell, Gil, that’s the best place to be crepuscular. I’d say it could be the very heart of crepuscularity.”

 “Well, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad,” said Gil. “I guess there are worse things for a poet to be than crepuscular in the woods by the lake.”

 The waitress, who had kindly let the old men sit and contemplate the nuances of language and pulled pork for over three hours, sidled over to their table. “You guys just about finished? We close in ten minutes.”

 “We’re better than finished,” said Wayne. “We’re crepuscular.”


Paul Negri has edited a dozen anthologies of short stories published by Dover Publications. His stories have appeared in Reflex Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Into the Void, Gemini Magazine, Jellyfish Review, The Penn Review, and more than 50 other publications. He lives and writes in Clifton, New Jersey.

Categories: Fiction

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