Socks for an Otter
As Louis balanced the cooler on a hip and tried to find the End Call button through his tears—caused by the biting wind, of course—he slammed into something.
“Shit. Watch where you’re going, asshole. Am I invisible?”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you through my—”
Words failed Louis as the angry young man faced him, but his words didn’t fail him because of the rage directed his way. No, it was the man’s serious eyes, his innocent face hidden behind a mask of facial hair that reminded Louis of the first and only guy he’d kissed, the guy who changed how Louis defined his sexuality.
“I’m seriously sorry. I was distracted.” He presented the cooler. “Here. Do you like blue crab? Have some. I have a whole cooler full and it needs to be eaten soon.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I’m not. Here. It’s worth a lot on the market. At least a couple hundred.”
“You’re fucking with me now, right?” the guy said as he took a step closer.
Louis took a step back.
“I’m not into the illegal seafood trade. Do I look like I am?”
“No.” Louis shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m flustered. Sorry for running into you. I was on the phone with my—”
The guy held up his hand. “I get it. You’re distracted by your perfect life. You feel bad, so you’re offering me something of value. But you see, your precious blue crab is valueless to me right now. More than anything, I want cheese and soup and something that sticks to my ribs and gets me through this fucking storm. The few bites of meat I’d get from one of your pretty crabs wouldn’t cut it. What else you got in there? Roe? Escargot? Fucking oysters? ’Cause if I find a pearl, then maybe I can eat for more than a day or two.”
“I’ll cook for you,” slipped out before Louis could stop himself. “Come back to my place. Eat as many as you want. I’ve got more at home. You can help me eat them. As many as you want.”
Louis hoped the guy read the tears in his eyes as wind-inspired rather than what they really were: the realization of just how pathetic his life had become.
Louis was so fucking lonely, he’d just begged a stranger to let him cook for him. All so he wouldn’t be alone.
The guy spun on his heel and stalked away, tucking his chin deeper into his coat. With each step, the sole on his right shoe slapped. It was unglued and looked like it wouldn’t make it through the night.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
Louis was that shoe.