It was a gorgeous August day, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky. JJ walked past the outdoor tables with their jolly red umbrellas and sat in the dim rear of the dining room, his back to the wall so he could see the entrance. He was running on no sleep, his head teetering above a dense and sluggish slab of torso. His head and body seemed barely connected, maybe joined with a spring, like a bobble head. “A JJ bobble head,” he whispered and giggled. The lady at the next table looked at him.
Lila came in and took off her sunglasses. All that blonde hair, piled on top of her head by some female trick of bobby pins and clips. Her neck and summer dress. Then her legs. JJ felt faint, his head lolling on the spring.
“I guess I’ll let you buy,” she said to him before even sitting down.
“Shit,” JJ said. He felt in his pockets, touching only the lottery ticket. “I forgot my wallet.”
Lila gave a little snort and a familiar half-smile as she sat down across from JJ. “So what am I buying you for lunch?”
They ordered. Kielbasa and eggs for him. A spinach salad for her. Lila said, “Y’know, six million really isn’t that much.”
“I mean, if you’re not careful.”
“Am I really that helpless to you? I mean, what the hell?”
“You’re impulsive and you know it.”
JJ thought of her in bed with that guy last night. Who was it? Did she give him the same mothering bullshit? Was he a project of hers? He looked out the front window, the street view like a far off TV showing a summery scene of sunshine and pedestrians, and tried to say nothing. Then he said, “Do you remember that night when we swam naked in the ocean. And we got out, we thought we were alone, and that creepy old drifter guy was standing there near our clothes?”
“Was that who was in bed with you last night?”
“Nice, JJ. Real nice. I thought you wanted to talk about the lottery.”
“Do you even want to see the ticket?”
Lila sighed. “No, JJ, I believe you. You may hide from the truth. But you are not a liar.”
“Well, that’s something,” JJ said.
They ate and talked about what he could do with six million dollars. Afterwards he said, “Let’s play the song game. Name all the songs we know about money. Maybe we’ll get some inspiration.”
Lila smiled. “Can’t Buy Me Love,” she said.
“Can’t buy you love? Or me?”
“You’re the one with the money. So it can’t buy you love.”
“I was afraid of that,” he said. “I was hoping you’d say Material Girl, where you’re the material girl and I’m the boy with the cold hard cash.”
The waitress put the check on the table and Lila picked it up. “Not yet you aren’t.” They both laughed and JJ decided he would just go to work like normal that night. Carrying on seemed like the best thing to do, for now.