The waiter must have smelled it from the kitchen, because he aimed directly for our table.

"Was that a joint you just put out?"

I looked up, grinning like the absolute idiot I was that night. Nash turned his head, looking away at something, probably anything, else.

"Are you crazy?" the waiter asked. "You can't smoke that here." His black-clad torso leaned forward as though the soles of his shoes were velcroed to the floor. I found this funny.

"It's not a joke." He glowered above me. "Do it again and I'll call the cops."

I sipped wine from a glass someone had left on the table. Certain habits stuck.

Nash asked the waiter for a beer.

I picked what was left of the joint from the ashtray and ate it. When I'd lived poor in the city in the 1970's, I'd left joints as tips.

Nash spoke to the air. "It's been a while since she's been to New York."

About the author:

Maryanne Stahl is the author of two novels, Forgive the Moon and The Opposite Shore. She lives in Thunderbolt, GA.