Mind the Steppe

Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 9

“So…” said Emma, leaning over the table. “Who’s my blind date?”

“Yes.” Marlene turned to glare subtly at Steve. “I think we all want to know that.”

Steve laughed nervously. “Well, you’ll just have to meet him for yourself. But he’s a really great guy.”

Emma bought it. Marlene clearly didn’t. He didn’t blame her. One didn’t make “If I get a girlfriend, I’ll get her to introduce you to one of her friends” pacts with anyone you’d typically consider “a really great guy.” Which sucked, now that he thought about it, because that meant he wasn’t a really great guy himself. Marlene’s expression seemed to back that up.

“Come on,” said Emma, clearly oblivious to the daggers being shot across the table. “You’ve got to tell me something about him.”

“Well…” Steve counted on his fingers. “He’s high-up in the military…really big in China…has a large family…hey, here he is now!”

“May I take your coat, sir?” asked the maître d’.

“NUH!” grunted Emma’s blind date.

“No.” Marlene took advantage of Emma’s obvious distraction. “Seriously? This is ‘Big G?’ This. You said it wasn’t anyone I’d know! We are not doing this. We are seriously not…”

But Big G was already at the table.

“Emma…” Steve stood up. “This is…um…Genghis Khan. Genghis, Emma…Emma, Genghis.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

“MUH.”

Genghis sat down, cracking one of the spindly wooden struts in the back of the chair. Steve had forgotten how big he was. Or maybe it was just that he was wearing a tuxedo. Steve regretted asking him to dress smart. For one thing, a tuxedo was way over the top. He’d suggested smart thinking Genghis would take that to mean smart casual. For another, he looked ridiculous. Bristly red arm hair stuck out of the shirt sleeves, which in turn stuck out from the jacket sleeves, which didn’t seem to have made it all the way over his freakish Popeye forearms. His raging neckbeard poked out around the collar like a ruff. All in all, he looked like an orangutan wearing a penguin. It was not a pretty sight.

“Hey, man,” said Steve, putting out a hand. “It’s been too long. What have you been up to?”

Genghis didn’t accept Steve’s handshake, but answered politely enough: “GRUHP.”

“A night class in public health, you say?” Steve made a show of looking impressed. “How interesting. Uh, Emma, you said you did public, uhh…public…”

“Public footpath administration?”

“Public footpath administration!” Steve nodded furiously. “Yeah! So that’s…you know…they’re both public. That’s something in common.”

“Well,” Emma looked up as she thought about it. “That was really supposed to be more of a temporary thing.” She leaned over to Genghis as though confiding in him. “My real passion is parkland bench allocation.”

“FUH.”

Emma giggled. “I know, right? But you’ve got to do what you love.”

There was a pause.

“So, what do you like to do?”

“MUHL…” Genghis turned to her. “IPF GRAHRL BUFSNUH, BUH MUHRNURMUH, SNAH?”

Emma leaned over to Steve. “I didn’t catch that…” she whispered.

“He says he travels a lot. This one time he went to Samarkand, and he got all the local people out in front of the city gates, and he…”

“SWAK! SWAK!” Genghis Khan made chopping motions with his massive slab of a hand.

“…he chopped lots of…wood.”

“IPF GRAPF BUH MURNUH!” He laughed, clutching his belly.

“And then as a symbol of his victory…over the wood…he built a huge pyramid out of…cabbages.”

Emma sat listening intently, clearly waiting for Steve to translate more.

“Everyone had a wonderful time.”

The wine arrived. The waiter poured a glass to taste. Genghis very thoughtfully and ceremoniously passed it to Emma. Then started chugging from the bottle.

“And one for us, please,” said Marlene, not missing a beat.

However, any chance of a quiet meal was shattered when Genghis (who had already finished the wine) stood up, made his way over to the lobster tank, and returned with a crustacean in each hand.

“UNGF BUH BRAAH GRUUG,” he explained apologetically, taking a big bite of lobster.

“Oh, Genghis. I’m sure you can miss your night class just this once!”

“NUH.” The rest of the first lobster disappeared.

“We’d really love it if you could stay,” added Marlene, in a tone that suggested she understood that he desperately had to leave and would sadly be unable to embarrass her further.

“NUH.” Genghis shook his head sadly. Standing, he gave Steve a bone-crushing hug. Marlene wisely remained sitting to avoid this.

“Well,” said Emma, who was apparently not so wise, “it was really nice meeting you. Maybe we could get together some…”

“MYAH!” Genghis Khan kissed her passionately with a mouthful of raw shellfish. “GOODBYE.” He waved with the remaining lobster as he shouldered his way back out the door.

The table was silent for a minute.

“Wow,” said Emma, at last, wiping shell fragments from her face with a napkin.

“Emma,” began Marlene, “I’m really sorry…”

“In retrospect,” Steve interrupted, “I probably should have mentioned…”

“I know, right?” Emma beamed. “He is such a free spirit.”

“Say what now?” Steve and Marlene said it in unison.

“I think…he completes me. Oh, but I never got his number!” and she ran out the door.

The table was silent once more.

“Well,” said Steve, in a rare position to say “I told you so.” “I think that actually went rather well, don’t you?”

Marlene signalled the waiter. “Cheque please.”


If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from Flash Fiction Month 2012 and 2013 collected in OCR is Not the Only Font and Red Herring respectively.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s