Tony Gloeggler

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He flips open a menu. I slip a quarter
into the table-top juke box, punch upArtwork by Gene McCormick
“Thunder Road,” try to remember
who died, who got married the last time
we saw each other. The waitress pours
coffee. He orders cottage cheese, fruit,
tells me he runs marathons now. I want
pancakes, bacon and eggs. I can feel
his eyes poking my belly, explain
“I still shoot hoops two nights a week.”

He slides a card across the table.
The letters of his name are slanted
like the sleek curves of a sports car.
It says he’s some kind of consultant.
Computers. Graphic design. I put it
in my pocket, stare out the window,
watch long lines of people burrow
into the subway. He adjusts his tie,
asks if I’m still trying to save the world.
I admit I run a group home for retarded
kids, that I started writing again.
The waitress asks, “Everything okay?”
He’s still married to Janey,
their second child’s due in June.
This time, he wants a son. I’m tired
of living alone. I miss Erica.
Bad. He shakes his head, says
“You’re just not getting laid enough.”
I laugh, ask “Does it show?”
All I know, is that when I get home,
open my apartment door and slide
my hand down the wall, it takes
longer each night to find the light.

When the waitress clears the dishes,
he points to his cup for a refill.
I pick up the check, figure out
my half. He stirs milk in, lifts
his cup with two hands. “My father
passed away a month ago. Bone cancer.
Got so bad, I had to force myself
to visit the last few weeks.”
I reach across the table, fold my hands
over his, help him put the cup down.



During recess in the fifth grade
giggling girls drew fat hearts
on the blackboard. They’d print
their names next to mine and shoot
arrows through them. My cheeks tinted
pink as I knelt on one knee, scaled
baseball cards against the back wall.
When I was twelve, we played “Hunter
and the Hunted” in couples. One team
counted, the other hid. Linda said no one
would find us and kissed my lips. She slipped
her tongue in my mouth, unzipped
my dungarees. I pinched her nipples,
listened for footsteps. High school,
I played lead guitar in a garage band.
We banged “Good Lovin” off gym walls
while tight skirt girls shimmied
near the amps. Cindy licked her lipstick,
threw me a kiss and yelled she’d wait for me.
In the back seat of her Dad’s Rambler
she lifted her sweater, unsnapped
her bra. Any time my fingers crept
up her leg, she pushed my hand away,
she’d say no, not tonight, not yet,
and press her knees together. Erica
was surprised when I said I never
made love before. We cut class
Wednesday morning, went to my empty house.
We locked the door, walked down basement
stairs. She sat on the edge of the bed.
I pulled down the shades. She stood up,
hugged me, then stepped back to undress.
When she caught me staring, I blushed.
She smiled, curled under blankets.
When I kissed the back of her neck,
she turned and opened her arms. All
of her skin touched all of mine

Tony Gloeggler is a native of NYC and currently manages a group home for developmentally disabled men in Brooklyn. His work has been in numerous journals and anthologies. One Wish Left, his first full length collection that went into a second edition, was initially published by Pavement Saw Press in 2000. Tony Gloeggler’s Greatest Hits came out on Pudding House Publications in 2009 and in 2010 The Last Lie was published by NYQ.