All Men

“I don’t think my view of living men is askew?” asks Lacey.

“No. It’s not.” says Elliott.

“So, based on what that man at the bar said, I should assume that straight men today want women to be sexually aggressive. Either outright or in the way they present themselves. But they generally don’t want a woman who wants a real sexual relationship. As in, they want to use women like their equivalent of a dildo. But a dildo that they can fall in love with for a hot minute to make it seem less oppressive and degrading to their own and her humanity? They want all the chemicals released authentically but not so authentically that they have to feel any pain or real sense of our shared, gloomy, actual reality.”

“It’s like everyone has been taught by collective culture to be a drug addict in that way.“ says Elliott.

“I really don’t think it’s just my limited experience that informs me. Just anecdotal nonsense. I really think men are polluted. I think we all are.” says Lacey.

“And you know some deranged idiot will suggest total abstinence or pedophilia as an answer.” says Elliott.

“Or death.” says a Chinese man who died of Covid-19.

“Or castration.” says Lacey.

“Or annexation of Cuba.” says JFK. “I mean, why not?! I almost went to war with them. Isn’t it time we add them? It would make almost as much sense as Putin adding Ukraine.”

Lacey stops to analyze it. She considers their history. She considers it.

“It actually does make some sense if you apply the same logic as Putin did.” she muses.

“So! Will they be a state or another Puerto Rico?” JFK asks.

“Mr. Kennedy you’re not saying that correctly. Your dialect sounds too much like my specific way of speaking. And I’m supposed to be an idiot, according to them and their real friends. You’re supposed to sound like JFK, not me.” says Lacey.

“You’re not an idiot.” he says smiling. He’s eating something with peas and mashed potatoes. They’re all still at the pub.

“Does that have carrots too?” asks Lacey.

He smiles at her. Raises his eye-brows.

“Thanks for suggesting to Mark to buy mint chocolate chip ice cream.” says Lacey to Jack.

But then Jack disappears. Pops up behind her. “You’re welcome.”

“I’ll pray for you.” she says to Jack.

“I’ll pray for you too.” he manages.

A man smiles at her. Elliott Roosevelt smiles too.

“Remember how your father who raised you always said you reminded him of Rebecca Hall? From ‘Cheers?’ And you thought it was weird. She manages the bar, Lacey.” The man looks at Lacey. “You thought I was going to accuse of being flirtatious with Jack. But I’m not that big of an idiot.”

“That could just be a red herring.” says Lacey.

“What if it’s not? What if your father owned and managed bars?” the man persists.

“What if your father was like Jay Gatsby?!” asks Zelda protectively.

“What if he was raised rich and had blue blood and was named Tom?” asks Lacey.

“At least you’re not Diane.” says Zelda laughing. “I’m sorry sweetie.” she says sincerely.

Harold grabs her and carries her out of the bar.

“Only in England.” says Scott once they’re all safely outside.

“You’ll always have my number until we met after you’re dead. Unless Michael rips it up.” Harold hugs her and then lets her be.

And indeed Michael races off with her. On the sidewalk next to the street outside the bar.