—He choked on a piece of bacon, she says.
Cough, cough, purple. Not a very elegant way to go.
—And not a nice feeling for the last moments.
—Quicker than cancer.
—Would you call it quick?
She would. In comparison with the multitude of alternatives. Her judgement of ‘quicker than a lot of ways’, perhaps haunts her she returns to perusing the menu.
—Ok, so it’s not as quick as going under a bus.
His gaze floats round their surroundings.
She is dubious about calamari, golden rings of crispy tempura and succulent marine internal contents.
—I like them, but sometimes they disagree with me.
—I was thinking in the cab, was it him who always claimed to be vegetarian, or someone else? But it was definitely bacon, we got that out of them. Wouldn’t be the first time, Public Relations hasn’t matched the truth of it.
What MH actually does, not what they say MH does. Death being the Great Revealer.
—Don’t think so.
—Go on, have the calamari, he urges. (Live a little.)
He has a vision, of her on a ventilator, and he having to find excuses to go and visit her,
wasn’t such a good strategy was it — as it transpired, still deceiving and getting nothing much good out of it. The vision is sepia-tinted.
In the restaurant, the slimmest sable hank has caught on an eyebrow.
He is shiny-cheeked, with what? Feeling the impending bill?
He smoothes back the slim hank of blondish hair that has shifted to foul against an eyebrow, and listens to the ventilator’s periodic ding.
She battles with her calamari, mystic sea creature of depths, squirting, darting, skidding, avoiding a fork. Tines chime, then a rasp, as they dig into the glaze of the restaurant plate. She will triumph.
—I do like it, but my grandmother died from choking on a calamari ring… Oh yes… You weren’t to know.
If he reads her right, her tone suggests she is feeling somehow taken for granted. And she’s being a bit melodramatic.
—Didn’t mean to…
—I find it surprising that a pathologist familiar with the Heimlich manoeuvre would suggest I try the calamari.
—We call it ‘emergency intervention employing abdominal thrusts‘ now.
—Apparently Dr. Heimlich didn’t invent it…
After another minute or so, when she hasn’t cracked into a smile about ‘abdominal thrusts’.
—Are you being entirely fair?