I look at the wall clock.

Alice drops her purse into the booth. Sorry I’m late!

I huff a little.

She wiggles onto her bench and grabs the menu.

Have you ordered?

No, just got here.

Oh, good.

I already know I’m getting chicken-fried steak, but Alice decides for a while. Finally Angelos takes our orders. Alice still looks flushed.

So what happened Saturday night? Where’d you go?

I look at her and start to well up.

Oh, honey! Tell me!

I hide on the table for a minute, blow my nose in a napkin, look up at her and whisper, A girl kissed me at Sharon’s party.

Yeah? Who?

Cedar Robinson.

The track star? What’s wrong with that?

Then she called me a fucking queer and ran away. Except she was drunk, so she kept falling over herself. You were on the porch.

Why didn’t you grab me?

You looked really high.

Oh, God, I’m sorry. She looks down, at the side of the booth.

I take her hand on the table. I’m just glad you’re here now.

We look each other in the eye a long time and I let out a breath.

Thank you.

Of course.

She looks off, then smiles, then starts to giggle.

What?

Well, at least if she was that plastered no one would believe her.

I guess. But that’s not really the point.

Of course not. I’m sorry. Bitch got instant karma. How do you feel now?

I don’t really know. Lost, hurt, alone? Is it really a good idea to stay in this town another year if they’re going to treat me like that? I mean she was into that… I look around. …kiss.

Maybe she’s a lesbian, too, Alice says. And she’s chicken-shit.

So?

Then she’s really getting what she deserves.

Way down in my stomach something hard breaks into pieces.

Hey, she says, lighting up. Any news about Magos?

Now it’s my turn to search the walls.

There’s a woman in the booth behind Alice. She’s back-lit, but I stare anyway. She’s got long dark hair, strong eyes, sloping eyebrows. Her chin is round and square at once, and her cheekbones high. She’s beautiful, in the way women who live in their bodies, who settle into their faces as they get older, are beautiful. She looks so comfortable with herself. She must be in her thirties. I sigh. I wish I could find a woman like that.

What?

Nothing.

Two other people appear from the bathroom, and the woman stands up to let another woman in. I almost don’t recognize the other woman as a woman: she has short hair, and wears a collared shirt. Then the short-haired woman getting in leans in and kisses her! On the lips!

Oh my God, I whisper. They’re lesbians! Here! At the Magos!

Alice starts to turn around. I grab her hand. Don’t be rude. Let them have their… privacy.

Alice snorts. You’re not exactly being discreet.

Our food arrives and I keep sneaking glances. She whispers to her girlfriend and they both look at me. I blush and look down.

What were we talking about?

Magos. The man, the legend, the whatever. Any update?

Don’t be dismissive. He was a real person. Anyway, nothing big.

Something small?

Well, I talked to Mrs. Bruschac and she sent me to the County Registry of Deeds. There are records from his daughter and granddaughters in Newton, claiming the land sale was never supposed to be permanent.

Fascinating!

I know. But I really don’t know where to go from here.

Have you been to the Historical Society?

I look out the window, across Washington Street.

When I got inside it was just a mess. A few old photographs in frames on old tables, but the rest of it is in piles. It’d take years just to organize it, before you could start looking things up.

I sneak another look at the woman on the right. They’re getting ready to go.

You know, I sigh. I feel better. Thanks for getting me out.

She smiles, really obvious and deep. She looks at her watch.

Oh, shit. I gotta go.

Where?

Meeting your brother at 3:30. She puts a $10 bill on the table. My treat.

Suddenly I’m the last customer at the Magos. But I do feel better. Who could be luckier with a best friend like Alice Gavelston?

Added: May 19, 2014 | Last changed: January 25, 2015