Every day this week she’s catwalked
into Starbucks all shiny from a morning
workout—Zumba, I bet. She just reeks of
housewife on the trend—with her lip gloss
unscathed and earrings dangling. She takes
the table next to mine in the corner opposite
the door, spreads her magazines and choc-
olate almond biscotti all over the place, and
starts talking. Sometimes even cooing. Not
to me, but to that goddamned phone, like
this place is her studio office from where she
broadcasts her financial planner husband’s
dirty little habits out into the world and
brokers advice on getting the little shits onto
the school bus.
The laughing or pouting at her texts? Even
the outgoing? Come on. Really? I’m just
trying to relax and think a little, you know?
So today’s the day I end it.
When she goes to the bathroom she forgets
her phone and I drop it into her coffee. Play
it real cool, too, like the self-absorbed
Starbucks poseurs don’t even exist. Her
swallows that sucker right up and I sit back
down to my straight black and my Rolling
Stone, and wait.
As soon as she gets back to her table, she
freaks. She rips through the papers and
pockets of her obnoxious saddlebag and
tosses her Cosmo aside like she doesn’t give
a rat’s ass about ninety-nine ancient Oriental
positions to help her man finally find her
(probably purposely) hidden G-spot. I watch
it all from over the rim of my Rolling Stone
half hoping she’ll take a sip of BlackBerry
right there. She grumbles a princessy little
suburban “Shit” with an extra hard “t,” loads
up her laptop, grabs her drink, and leaves.
Out to her Escalade, maybe, to check the
cup holder. I imagine her putting the coffee
into the cup holder while she searches under
the seats. Then the phone would be right
where she thought she left it—in the cup
I press Katy Perry’s glossy boobs against my
face so I won’t laugh my head off.
But then she blows back into the shop and
starts questioning people like some span-
dexed cop. I can’t quite hear her, but it
doesn’t look like too many people care
despite all that swinging cleavage. They
pretty much keep their eyes and their
thumbs on their own phones, which aren’t
sitting in their cars in their coffees in their
She finally gets back to me. I tighten my
grip on my Rolling Stone.
“Didn’t happen to see my phone get up and
walk away, right?”
“The fuck you didn’t.”
What do you say to that?
“Empty your pockets,” she says.
“I ain’t emptying my pockets.” I spread the
Rolling Stone on my lap. Over my pockets,
you know, just in case.
Before I can say anything else she twists my
T-shirt in her fist and yanks real hard.
“Stand up,” she says. She wears this
diamond ring the size of her poodle’s turd,
and it nearly slices my skin to shreds. My
Rolling Stone plops to the floor.
“Lay off!” I say. I tug on my shirt a couple
times to pull it back down over my belly. “I
didn’t touch your stupid phone.”
“You’ve been eye-fucking me all week.” Her
knuckles jam against my Adam’s apple for
another second before she drops my collar
with a shove. “If I find out you messed with
my phone, I’ll castrate you.”
That sort of shrivels me right up.
“Whatever,” I manage to say. My throat
When I bend over to pick up my Rolling
Stone, she karate-chops me right in the back
of my neck. I shriek and drop to one knee.
The cappuccino machine hisses and gurgles,
and someone clinks a utensil against a plate.
“Just a taste,” she says. She spins around
and Zumbas it toward the exit. Still on one
knee, I watch her ass bounce away under
black leggings until the second glass door
The dude next to me doesn’t even stop
thumbing his phone as I struggle to my feet.
“Next time you drop her shit in her coffee,”
he says, “she’ll really kick your ass.”
Todd Benware teaches high school English, Shakespeare, and
Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, and
Bombay Gin, and he is currently seeking representation for his
young adult novel, Shedding. He does not own a smart phone.