I fly down the restaurant stairs, backward – almost headfirst – and land with an action-movie crash in the wooden tables below.
His strength is magnifying. Usually, I am strong, but he has eclipsed me somehow; his power is life shattering.
The fact that he is obviously bending spatial dimensions doesn’t bother me. He is already next to me. He picks me up by the lapels and throws me a final time; I am too dazed to catch myself and so I crash headlong through the neat rows of wooden tables.
Where are the patrons?
But no, I wear the sweaty face and slickened hair of an embattled action star – and I have lost the resolution to be one. Picking myself up, I crawl through the splinters away from Him. A straight shot of dread has turned my blood to ice, refusing to let me do much more than pull myself along. I am a defeated hero, and I must look heroic unto death.
He simply steps on my back to halt my retreat. I am finished! My eyes are swollen like I’ve been beaten (and I have, of course. Badly.) – too much so to meet his eyes – and my lip dribbles blood like drool.
He sits down across from me and pulls me up into a semi-hunched position; without his crushing grip on my bicep I would crumple.
He wipes away glass and wood shards from a beverage menu, picks it up, and studies it with a hollow smile before realizing (as if he could forget) that I was still there. Allow him to be polite: he hands me the beverage menu and begins to explain the beer selection.
“Here we have the Draft Beers,” he drawls, pointing to the laminated menu. It maroon paper with tidy white text: bistro material for sure.
“And these are the Pilsner beers… do you like Pilsner?” My breath hitches painfully with every gasp but I manage to shake my head.
I watch his face, study the rough stubble on his chin, the square jaw and the cigar moving between his lips. It all looks so very, very cruel. He plucks the cigarette from his lips and uses it to point out the next selection.
“These would be the microbreweries.” Squeezed between his index and middle fingers, the cigarette can’t help but appear impossibly trapped between stone. I watch the smoking ember with growing apprehension.
I know the end of this scene! I try to jerk away, but his grip threatens to rip my arm apart. He points to the last category on the menu and says:
“Finally, there are fruit-flavored beers: citrus, strawberry and… grape.” I struggle now against him, but he simply clasps his free hand onto my jerking arm and all the fight is out of me. My body is tensed with what I know is coming.
He puts the grape-flavored cigarette out against the tender flesh of my forearm. I gasp, remembering having watched this exact scene on television before.
And then I woke up.