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Monday, February 13, 2006

The White Buffalo found this amusing

Atlas Dined, by Huck:

Could I please have a glass of ice water?

The server hurried off, somehow seeming annoyed that he had ordered ice water. Jack Caldwell didn't know why he had, why it summoned inside of him a strange emotion, not quite envy, but a nagging-- well, who had time to think of emotion? He had been longing for ice water all day; not out of need, but respect, for its clarity, its precision, and yet, he felt a certain contempt for it. Perhaps it was because its perfection was wasted on craven fools who wiped tables and carried food for people.

Marla Packwood sat across from him, trying not to let him see the shock in her face, which was cut as if by a sculptor, its lines tracing out the form of archaic nobility. She knew his request for ice water was a challenge to her, that he knew she cared what beverage he ordered. As long as they'd known each other, she had endured long hours of pain, in order to show indifference toward his food and drink, but tonight she had slipped, and she wondered why. She hated herself for it, but only for an instant, after which she regained her cold, stiff, emotionless, yet dangerously feminine demeanor.

It was the height of the dinner rush, and throughout the restaurant, elegantly dressed diners chattered away, consuming California wine and whispering about Harold Molt, who was in the restaurant with some friends.

Harold Molt had created a stir in the country when he published a book of philosophy. In it, he stated that America was corrupt, and he recommended that all industrialists be shot dead at once, as a lesson for the children. His philosophy was already gaining wide acceptance among college professors, newspaper editorialists, and the wives of industrialists. It was surprising to see him at this restaurant, but in this horrendous age, nothing was surprising anymore.

"Jack, do you see that scoundrel is here tonight?", Marla asked, managing to put emphasis in her question without showing any emotion, a trick she had mastered when only three years old, the year she graduated from high school.

"Yes," he answered, with a look of blankness which she knew meant that he felt the same way, that they didn't agree with Molt's ideas, that they both recognized Molt as an assault on everything that was good in the world, what good there was left.

When their dinner arrived, neither dared look at one another. They had both ordered rib eye steak with asparagus and baked potato. He had requested his own basket of rolls, and she knew he had done it to mock her. He could eat more rolls than she, and she hated herself for letting him, for caring, for not being able to hide her shame, in the pleasure it gave her to submit, to eat only one roll while he ate four....

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