Lunch Date


            Martin spotted him at a table just a few back from the front of the seating area. Though there was an overhang above the tables, there was still a bit of sun coming in from one side and falling upon Coyote and the table. It was only half past noon but it was terribly sunny today, a nice change from the last few days with April bringing nothing but rain.


            After gesturing to the girl in charge of seating that he was joining someone, Marty quickly made his way through the sea of chairs and blue tablecloths to the empty chair across from Coyote. As he pulled the chair out, Coyote stood and they both leaned forward and kissed over the table before taking their seats. “Did you order already?” Marty asked, noticing the lack of menus.


            Coyote nodded. “A while ago. Should be out soon,” he said. But his voice seemed a little rougher than usual and Marty sat back to look at him. Coyote was dressed conservatively for their lunch date, which was appropriate given that it was a high class restaurant. Ripped jeans or leather pants had given way to nice, albeit somewhat wrinkled, khakis. His usual T-shirt featuring a decade old band tour or a crude sexual saying was, instead, a plain green polo shirt. Which, coincidentally, matched the green streaks in his hair perfectly. Marty was pretty sure that he wouldn’t have changed into something so very much not him for just anyone. But Marty also saw how the man’s nostrils were a little pink and how his eyes looked bloodshot even behind the yellow tinted sunglasses.


            The waiter came by to fill up Coyote’s glass of water. “And what would you care to drink, Sir?” he asked, turning over Marty’s water glass and filling it as well.


            “Just the water. Thanks,” he said, nodded to the waiter.


            “Your food should be ready in just a few minutes,” the waiter assured them.


            It was, in fact, out even sooner than a few minutes. As the waiter stepped back, a man from the kitchens stepped forward with a large tray of covered dishes. He set an open club sandwich down in front of Marty, complete with steak fries and pickles. Coyote got a large salad and a bowl of clam chowder. They were met with a cheerful, “Enjoy your meal!”


            Coyote flashed Marty a smile, then swallowed a few spoonfuls of his soup before it had the chance to get cold. Marty tossed the end of his tie over his shoulder in order to keep it clean while he ate. Then he put his sandwich together and took a small bite. “You know, it’s something they tell you to watch out for in job interviews during meals. They say everyone goes straight for the fries before the sandwich and it takes a certain type of person to eat the sandwich first.”


            Coyote smiled and swallowed another spoonful. “Don’t think you need to be worrying about job interviews.”


            “Yeah,” Marty nodded. “But now it’s a habit,” he laughed. He took a large bite of his sandwich and looked over at Coyote with curious blue eyes.


            Marty had heard the man gasp softly, though he wasn’t sure he was supposed to have heard it. And now he saw Coyote struggling against something, lips pursed tightly, nostrils flaring, eyes closed. “h’Chfff!” He bounced in his seat, then rubbed the knuckle of a bent finger beneath his nose with a wet sniffle. As Marty struggled to finish his bite in order to say something, Coyote quickly deflected. “So how was work this morning?” he asked, trying to sound as calm and casual as possible.


            “Good,” Marty said, shrugging. “We’re getting down to the wire with a product we’re deploying, but things seem to be running so smoothly that there’s no time crunch like usual. It’s actually fairly relaxing. Wish all our releases could be as nice.” He ate a fry then smirked. “Of course, it could just be waiting until the last minute to break down or present us with a bug—”




            Marty narrowed his eyes. “Looks like you’re dealing with a bug of your own,” he said softly.


            Coyote shook his head. “Allergies,” he explained just as softly. He rubbed a knuckle at his nose again, then a finger alongside his nose. “They didn’t have any tables inside and the pollen’s just starting to get bad so far this spring.” He reached for his water glass, which was nearly drained already. “I was kind of hoping to get through the meal without you noticing. It’s not exactly appetizing dining conversation, is it?” He gave a weak laugh and another sniffle.


            “It’s okay,” Marty said kindly. “I don’t mind a couple sneezes. You’re so attractive… even your sneezes are cute.”


            Coyote blushed and ducked his head, his hair covering his face. “You should see me in the middle of a big allergy attack,” he said, swirling his spoon around in his soup. “Not just a couple of sneezes then. And not so cute, I promise you.”


            “I’ll be the judge of that.”


            “Oh no,” Coyote said, shaking his head at once. “Not going to happen. Won’t let… it.” He winced and pinched his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “nchff!” He stifled the sneeze as best he could then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. When he looked up to see Marty watching his every move, he smiled as genuinely as he could. “Come on, eat your food and distract me with your lovely stories.”


            Marty laughed. “All right. Well, let me tell you about what Alex the mail boy did today, then.”


            “He’s that dead sexy guy who always sings when he brings you mail, right?” Marty smiled and nodded enthusiastically. Coyote bounced excitedly in his seat and dug into his salad. “Then by all means, do tell.”


            Marty launched into his story which lasted through the rest of his sandwich and through most of Coyote’s soup and salad. Coyote, though listening with rapt attention, did as much rubbing at his nose as eating. He managed to keep from sneezing at least a dozen times, even though a few came out. It seemed a losing battle, however, as the check arrived. He just managed to pinch his nose long enough until the waiter left. Then he held both hands to his face to muffle the sound and contain the sneezes. “hah-hahhhChuhhh! hehhChooo! hahhCshhhh!” He groaned and winced, then wiped his hand across the bottom of his nose with a powerful sniff. His hand shook with nervousness and he looked down at the table. Then he pulled his sunglasses off with a snap of his wrist and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles.


            Marty reached for the check. “I’ll pay the check while you’re in the bathroom,” Marty offered. Looking pointedly at him. “All right?” Grateful, Coyote nodded. Quickly he excused himself and headed straight for the men’s room.


            Marty paid by credit card, which was taken away, run through the machine, and brought back before Coyote returned. Marty wrote in a sizeable tip to cover the efficient lunch service and the repeated drink refills. Even without the sneezing, Coyote probably would have needed to use the restroom after so many glasses of water.


            “You ready?” Coyote put a hand on Marty’s shoulder.


            Looking up into his smiling face, Marty nodded. He moved his napkin from lap to empty plate and stood. As they navigated their way through the sea of tables on their way out, Marty’s hand found Coyote’s. Their fingers interlaced and Marty squeezed his hand tightly as a silent question of concern. Coyote answered that he was all right with an equally tight squeeze back.


            However as they headed down the street, walking slowly towards the building where Marty worked, Coyote seemed less than all right. He was sniffling almost constantly. Halfway there, he grabbed hold of Marty’s arm to stop him. “Hold… hahhh…” He shook his head, unable to finish. “huhhh-Shoo! hehhChooo! hehhChooo! ehhhChoo!” Each snapped him nearly in half. He held both hands up to his face to hide the display. Marty wrapped an arm around Coyote’s waist and held him steady. “ehhhh-hehhh-Chooo! ehhhShooo! HahhShoo!” He straightened, his breath hitching. “hahhh… hahhhh-AhChooo!” Coyote straightened, sniffling.


            “God bless you!” Marty said, reaching up and dragging his hand through Coyote’s hair. “Man, when you said your allergy fits were big—”


            “That wasd’t ode of the big odes,” Coyote said, hiding behind his hands still. “hahh-hehhhChuoo!” He groaned deeply, not wanting to open his eyes. “Barty, do you hab… ub… I bead, by doze is all…” Something was thrust at his cupped hands and he took it eagerly. When he opened his eyes, he found he was rubbing his runny nose into the end of Marty’s handsome blue and grey striped tie. He groaned again, guiltily.


            Marty chuckled and loosened the tie. He slipped it off over his head and gave it to Coyote completely. “Don’t worry. I keep an extra at the office just in case.”


            Coyote blew his nose a little, rubbed it dry, then crumpled the whole thing into his hand. “Then thanks.” He coughed and cleared his throat. “Look, I’m sorry to cut this short. But I’d better get home before this gets any worse. Need to take some… some… hahhh-Shooo! Allergy pills.”


            “God bless,” Marty said, kissing Coyote’s nose gently. “Do you want me to call you a cab or are you taking the Metro?” No one with much sense drove into the district on a workday with hopes of actually parking if it could be avoided.


            “Metro,” Coyote said. He coughed and looked around. “Maybe by way of CVS. Not sure I can… w-wait- huhhh- until I get home. huhhh-huhChoo!” He raised his hand and snuffled into the necktie.


            Marty watched him, smiling. Yes, just as he had thought, even this part of Coyote was adorable. “Now that I know you have allergies I might just have to start carrying a handkerchief like all the respectable businessmen do.”




            “Or at least a packet of tissues in my briefcase. Bless you again.” Marty cocked his head and kissed Coyote’s nose again soothingly. Then he stroked Coyote’s stubbly cheek.


            “Thanks,” Coyote said, clearing his throat a few times immediately after. “A girl could get used to this kide of treatbedt.” He wrinkled up his nose and sniffed again. “But you’d better get back to work before you get fired.” Marty closed his eyes and let Coyote kiss him. “Thank you for a dice ludch date. Though I’b sorry about by, sniff, sniff, allergies.” He turned his head away and coughed a few times, wincing.


            Marty heard a strange clucking and clicking sound which was Coyote scratching the roof of his mouth with his tongue. Marty gave him another sympathetic look. “Thank you. And you’d better get going before you get any worse. You’ve got to perform tonight, right?”


            “Shit. Forgot. Right, I do.” He swallowed and winced. “You goig?”


            “Wouldn’t miss it. And you’d better not either. So go get some Sudafed and tissues.”


            Coyote nodded and snuffled into the necktie in his hand again. “ehhh-hehhh-HahChooo! Sniff! See you later, Marty.”


            With one last soft kiss, “Later, Yo.” They turned and went their separate ways, though Marty couldn’t help walking backwards and keeping an eye on Coyote until he had to go around the corner.