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By noon, I always know if I'm going to have a good night. The contents of the brown paper bag, its top folded down not once but twice on the corner of my desk, are my oracle. I imagine archeologists must feel the same anticipation when breaking new ground, exhilarated at the prospect of a new discovery in virgin layers of stone. Some days just staring at the bag waiting on the corner of the desk is enough to make me stiffen in my sensible khaki pants.

Some men decipher their wives libido by studying arcane and subtle signs
they read from the slick pages of women's magazines. Me, I just wait for lunch.

Yesterday I found two ham and cheese sandwiches bagged together and a bag of plain chips. She hadn't bothered with dessert and the way everything was slung haphazard into the bag told me it would be a boring evening. Sure enough, we had leftovers for dinner, spent a few hours watching television and were off to bed. She fell asleep before I managed to get comfortable.
On nights like that, I think of lunches past. A favorite memory is chicken and dumplings with cherry cobbler for dessert. The dumplings were just right, tender and moist in their bath of thrice peppered chicken. The cobbler was a decadent contrast of slightly tangy cherries and rich syrup, topped by a flaky crust. That evening she was insatiable, like a woman starving for sex. I was forced to cover the dark half moons her teeth left on my neck by wearing a tie the following day. If I venture further into my memory I recall peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chocolate milk and snack cakes. She'd met me at the door in a plaid skirt, one of my dress shirts and her chestnut hair in pigtails. Later, after I could barely stand she'd pouted up at me with bubblegum lips and told me she needed a spanking.

Today the suspense is palpable; I've been having trouble resisting the urge to peek. It's been almost two weeks since I've found any culinary clues when reading the portents of my bagged lunches. Her best friend from college Diane had been visiting. She was leaving today. Stolen glances at our guest's athletic legs and perfect cleavage have been my only outlet other than masturbating to memories of lunches past, which is beginning to feel like self defense.

Finally, noon arrives. I close the door to my office and loosen my tie in anticipation of a wonderful meal. To my surprise there is a second bag in with the spaghetti and meatballs and French bread. My wife usually uses those disposable plastic containers not a second tightly folded bag. I'm intrigued but hold off opening the second bag until I've eaten most of the delicious spaghetti, relishing the bold spices of the homemade sauce and one piece of parmesan crusted bread.
Setting aside the remains of a decidedly promising meal, I open the smaller second bag. Inside is a bowl of steamed rice with teriyaki chicken and even a fortune cookie. Expecting a dessert or small snack for later Im confused, but I eat a small portion of the teriyaki anyway. I was breaking the fortune cookie when my desk phone rang, signaling the end of lunch.

"Did you enjoy your lunch?" my wife asked her voice innocent. I wasn't fooled.

It was certainly interesting. I reply, not trying to hide the innuendo.

Ill tell Diane you liked it. She helped fix it. she replied. I could almost see the corners of her mouth turning up in a naughty smile.

Diane? I thought she was heading back to Florida today. I inquired a little surprised, my mind a storm of speculation.

I asked her to stay the night. Its been so long since weve seen each other. I just wanted a little more time together. You dont mind do you? she asked her voice dripping with innuendo.

Not at all. I responded finally noticing the words typed small on the narrow slip of paper between my fingers. You will soon find yourself doubly blessed.

Hanging up the phone I smile, reading the entrails of my lunch with rare relish.


------
Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.


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Comments

The following comments are for "Lunchbreak Lothario"
by Bartleby

lunchtime!
Hey Bart, I'm glad you decided to go ahead with this. I want to be the first to congratulate you. =D I love the concept as well...very interesting woman, this man's wife. And very creative! This kinda reminded me of "Like Water For Chocolate" minus the firey sex on a horse. =P Take care!

( Posted by: Darkshine Raven [Member] On: February 19, 2004 )

penthouse
Hrm. I didn't particularly like this as much as your other work, Bart. It reminded me a bit of a Penthouse letter. The descriptions of the food were good, and that he looked for clues in his lunch of things to come was original, but the rest fell flat. A lot of it just rang of a typical male's fantasy-- the threesome, the schoolgirl-- and maybe that's why it didn't work for me.

"...she'd pouted up at me with bubblegum lips..." -- the sentence would work better without the 'up'. There are a few sentences that need commas, but that's all I remember seeing.

Sorry. I wish I had more praise for this.

( Posted by: Elphaba [Member] On: February 19, 2004 )

Food fight
Bart, I began this piece LMAO. I loved the way you created the lunch/desire connection in the man's mind or as an unconcious act on the part of the woman. Up to a certain point, I thought this might be one of your best, but then something happened, and this turned from wonderfully erotic to childishly pornographic. At first I thought it might be the threesome idea, but on second reading I actually don't think it was Diane's involvement. Instead, I feel it is the loss of the unconcious action into a deliberate 'lunch means sex' by the wife. When she started with the conversation of sexual innuendo it lost all the previous magic for me. What surprise, what mystery you might have had if Diane had made the lunch because the wife didn't have time or something....what would that mean to the protagonist? Well I know what it would meant to the reader; Diane makes lunch...has desire for protagonist. It's implied, but as written now, with the wife making it oh-so-clear, it reads like a useless, redundant and missplaced Adverb. I don't want to be harsh here, I thought you had the makings of a fab story, funny and poignant. But this ending just blew it for me. Sorry. Please try again though, I loved the premise.

~Malthis

P.S. Was this written intentionally for erotic publication?

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: February 19, 2004 )

Not Really a Penthouse Letter
Actually this reminded me more of Portnoy's Complaint. Otherwise, I sadly demure with the rest of your commentary thus far (esp regarding the bubblegum lips... now that line was sadly Penthouse class material)

And it is an interesting premise. Actually, I like Mathis' idea of having Dianne make the lunch but keeping the fortune cookie. This way the connection between sex and lunch remains subtle, but the reader still gets an idea of what's going on later that evening without getting uncomfortably banged over the head with it.

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: February 19, 2004 )

Elphaba, Pen, Malthis etc..
To say that I was suprised by everyone's reactions to this piece would be an understatement, but I still appreciate all of you taking the time to let me know what you thought.

This story is certainly out of my usual genre and while I'm glad to see that the overall premise seems to have been sucessful, the delivery apparently leaves something to be desired. I plan on taking everyone's suggestion to heart while doing a rewrite.

I had originally left things much more implied, but my recent bout with people misinterpretting my poetry and a suggestion from another fellow writer led me to clarify the innuendo a bit more than originally planned. Perhaps I erred on the opposite side of the coin. Either way I'll repost this one when I eit it. I feel the idea is too good to just let sit as is.

Bart

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: February 21, 2004 )

Edited version
The idea is good but it has been far too much explainations to it you could have left a lot of it implied , Looking forward to a edited version of this.
Though this is not really flash fiction either i thought more like a short story isnt it?

( Posted by: RightingIt [Member] On: February 22, 2004 )

a place for everything
I've read this several times now, and I'm really surprised by the comments you've gotten here.

I thought the piece was great-even the bubblegum lips line. Seems to me that there is a place for everything in writing, and I had the feeling that the profundity of a man knowing his wife so well was overlooked here, as was his contentedness with his life in general.

Likening their sexual relationship to food, more specifically to the lunches his wife prepared for him was a stroke of genuis in my opinion. What a way to simplify life, to save on divorce lawyer fees, and to have understanding where there maybe was none before.

On the other hand, I've been called a silly female before, so take it for what it's worth; I just enjoyed the read and thought how nice it would be to make lunches for a guy like this.

Safiyah

( Posted by: Safiyah [Member] On: February 25, 2004 )

Meh...
This is fairly...meh...
It's the best word I can think of. Competend verging on good, entertaining without being profound or unduly interesting.
I preferred it when I thought the lunches were the wifes unconscious hint at what the night was going to be like.

( Posted by: MacLaren [Member] On: July 25, 2004 )





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