Zeal

Zeal

A Chapter by BTBeamon

Zeal
 “Two? Will a booth be okay?” the waiter asks us. “Yes,” I say, and the woman next to me nods. I thump into the soft, high-backed bench seat. She drops gently onto the opposite side. “What to drink for you two?” “Water,” I say. “Same,” she says. “Sounds good,” says the waiter. “I’ll be right back with that.” I say, “Very nice place. So you’ve been here before?” “Yes,” she says. “Are you going to take off your scarf?” She fiddles with the gray fabric shielding her neck. “Not yet. I like the warmth, but I know it always gets too warm after a while. I’ll take it off eventually.” I nod, satisfied with the explanation. She says, “I like the ambient lighting. And the music. You?” “All of it, yes,” I say. The waiter returns, setting two glasses of ice water, each with a slice of lemon, in front of us. “Ready to order?” Glancing at the menu, I say, “I’ll have the salmon entree.” She says, “Egg plant parmesan.” “Very good,” says the waiter, taking our menus and leaving. For the first time, our eyes meet. Hers are light brown. Not quite a strong brown. I watch her sip at the water, squeeze the lemon, the juice squirting everywhere except into the glass. “Well . . . That didn’t work.” “No,” I say, trying to smile. “So . . .” she says. “May I ask you something?” “Sure.” “Are you . . . Is your name ‘St. Hill’?” “No . . . You may call me Zeal. Spelled Z-E-A-L. My nickname.” She seems disappointed. I hate to see that. “I thought you were St. Hill . . . I really did.” “I’m sorry . . . should we still eat?” “Oh, yes--yes, it’s fine.” Sipping my own water, I say, “I’m not at all familiar with the name St. Hill. I’ve been away for two years, so I have no fresh connections here.” “Oh? Where have you been?” I say, “I am actually going to war. I am a future soldier, if you will, and I’ve been preparing for that for the past two years. I got the call, and off I went.” She smiles. I think it impressed her. “Two years . . . Wow. You must know a lot.” I returned the smile, feeling quite suave. I allow a pause, paying brief attention to my water again. “Yes.” I swallow. “You might say I am an expert.” “Expert future soldier?” “And everything involved.” “Hmm,” she says. “You can call me Kate. Kate D’Angelo.” “Very nice,” I say. “Have you lived here long?” “Forever.” “Me, too. Minus the two years.” “Because of the war preparations.” “Exactly.” We trail off, staring at each other for a moment. I say, “So you thought I was a person named St. Hill?” Her eyes dart down, staying there. “To be honest . . . I’ve been thinking everyone is St. Hill lately. Every male, that is. I’ve reason to believe his name is James St. Hill. St. Hill is easier to say than the whole thing, though. And it sounds more effective, whatever that means. And--” “Describe him,” I say. I am not sure where I am taking this. “Well . . .” She is reluctant, I can tell. “He is merciful, genuinely willing to help someone in need.” “Oh,” I say. “I take it as a compliment, then, that you thought I was him.” She forces a little laugh, plowing right on. “I have heard that he has serious abilities. Supernatural, I mean. Because of his kindness, he earns respect, and he repays the respect through the abilities.” She was impressing me now. “I really can’t give an example of them, you just have to understand it, or else you don’t.” I nod. I believe you. “Anyway, it’s all well, good, and fun,” she says. “But he also demands respect if he thinks it’s not given freely. He seriously hurts the ones who don’t think he is wonderful for the kindness.” “Oh,” I say, my positive expression drooping a little. “He wants your eyes propped open, or else. Do you want someone propping your f**k--” The waiter returned, placing two plates before us. “Salmon . . . And for you, Eggplant parmesan. Enjoy.” “Thanks,” we both say. I dig in, while Kate pokes a fork at a lump of food. “Mr. St. Hill,” I say, mouth full, “sounds like an a*****e.” She nods sadly. “It comes out that way.” “You don’t like it?” I say, motioning towards her plate. “Oh . . .” She blinks. “I don’t know.” What’s her deal? She appears bothered. “Are you bothered?” “No . . . Yes.” “Can you share?” She released the fork gently, saying “I was ready. Really, seriously ready. And don’t ask ‘about what’” So I didn’t. I apologized. “I am sorry you’re upset. I can tell you are, and it upsets me too.” “Don’t worry about me,” she says. So I don’t, and I say “When I asked for a description . . . I meant more of what the man looks like.” “I don’t know what he looks like. Just the St. Hill part. And I’ve gotten nowhere tonight.” Finishing off a bite of fish, I say “Are you sure? You know I am a future soldier. I have skills you might find useful.” She’s stopped looking at me. Her eyes race all around. Our plates, her lap, the people across from us, and always back to the door. “Thank you,” she says, trying to stand, bumping our table, “for sitting with me, and ordering food with me.” “You’re leav--?” “Thank you for doing it.” She clears the cramped booth. Everything seems cramped all of a sudden. Like clouds charging upon a clear day. “Thank you, Kate, too!” I call, liking the use of her name. She turns back, acknowledging me, stepping out the door. Our waiter approaches. “Check, sir?” “No.” And I leave.



© 2010 BTBeamon


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BTBeamon
BTBeamon

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