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D.J. Ludlow

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Crosstalk
By D.J. Ludlow
Friday, November 22, 2002



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"Drats", Tony thought, "not a single spare table in the whole cafeteria. Look's like I'll have to share." Tony preferred to lunch alone and found concentrating on eating and talking at the same time a pain. He tried to find the most uncommunicative diner he could and finally settled across from a rather sullen looking 'business type' in a sombre suit and tie with his nose in the morning newspaper. "Snap", Tony thought as he unfolded his copy of the very same newspaper. After brief nods of mutual acknowledgment both settled into a steady rhythm of chewing and page turning.

About ten minutes later Tony's rhythm was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder. Tony looked up as his companion of circumstance settled back into his side of the table. "Aren't you listening to me?" he said with a trace of annoyance. "Sorry", Tony apologised, gesturing to his newspaper, "Quite an interesting article." "Well that sounded pretty weak, even to me"' he thought. "I was just saying how deaf people could almost pass for normal until they start waving their mitts around like that", Mr Suit nodded somewhere over Tony's left shoulder. "Still I guess it's quite an advantage in a noisy restaurant and such." Tony, assuming his companion referred to the current environment smiled and glanced over his left shoulder to the next table where two young ladies were signing rapidly, obviously deep in conversation. He let his eyes run appreciatively over the one with her back to him. "I think red just became my favourite colour", he thought to himself just as he caught her companion glance his way and sign something to her friend. Tony smiled as he quickly turned back to his own table. Trying to judge the background noise Tony spoke a little louder than normal to his lunch companion. "I don't know about looking normal, that one in the red dress has a pretty exceptional rear end!" he said raising his eyebrows in a display of appreciation. "I wouldn't say that so loud", his companion leaned forward urgently, "she may hear you." Tony took the cue and lowered his voice before quickly pointing out with a smile that they were deaf so it wasn't likely.

Not long after Mr Suit in typical executive fashion glanced at his watch, gulped the remains of his coffee, grabbed his newspaper, and quickly apologised, citing some urgent appointment, before rushing off like someone had just hit his fast forward button. Tony took the opportunity to sneak another glance at his 'lady in red' and was pleased to find her alone, someone obviously having hit her companion's fast forward button also. Tony never missed an opportunity, and after all, he even had the perfect opening gambit. He sauntered over to the other table with the confidence of one with a secret advantage. Well maybe not too much confidence.

"Hi, my name's Tony", he opened nervously, his hands fumbling over the words. "Sorry, I usually just lip read these days but I'm also deaf. I glanced over before", Tony continued with what he hoped was a warm smile, "and couldn't help catch your friend signing to you. What was it she said? Oh yeah! 'Don't turn around, but your cute friend at the next table is now giving YOU the once over'." Tony, still flashing the most disarming smile he could find in his arsenal, paused for the blushing embarrassment that would break the ice and allow him the opening to return his own compliment that might just hopefully kick start a relationship. It didn't quite go as planned. She was equally stunning from the front, he decided, as she slowly looked up at his face now that he'd stopped signing. Not with the expected embarrassment but with a wickedly mischievous sparkle in her eyes. "Hi", she said, mouthing her words carefully, "My name is Trish. Actually it is my friend who is deaf. My hearing is perfect." She paused a moment to let that sink in before smiling sweetly and adding, "So Tony, how does my front stack up against my rear end?"

D.J. Ludlow Copyright 2002.

(This is another from my planned short story collection "Greener On The Lighter Side". Enquiries from publishers most welcome. :-)

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