Sipping her latte Susan studied Murray’s face. Great, she thought. I know that look. It reminded her of thunderheads gathering on the horizon in the midst of an otherwise pleasant day. She cast her eyes in the direction he was looking and saw right away what was perturbing him. Before she could try a pre-emptive move he dropped his muffin on the plate and started in on a tirade.
“They think they’re just so all that, don’t they? Well they’re not. I mean, it’s not like they chose it then, is it?”
He folded his arms in disgust and glared at the couple two tables away.
Susan knew it was pointless but she decided to try humour anyway.
“Chose what Murray?”
“Oh, ha ha. That’s hilarious.”
“C’mon Murray, not this again. We were having such a good time.”
“Oh, don’t pretend you haven’t seen them smirking at me.”
Susan sighed and looked away. Her brother could be a real handful. She picked up her magazine and feigned interest in an article on alternative fuels. She glanced up a minute later to see he was still staring daggers at the “tree tops” as he liked to call them. It was the kindest of the numerous labels he had for tall people. She didn’t like thinking about some of the others.
She went back to her article but seconds later he was drumming his fingernails on the Formica tabletop. She did her best to ignore it but it was no use. A new tack was called for.
“Murray, what do you say we take in a movie? I noticed there’s several starting soon and I’m sure we could find something worth seeing.”
“Oh, sure. The minute we find good seats a couple of them, he jerked his thumb in the direction of the couple, will come and sit down in front of us and we won’t be able to see the screen.”
“Murray, please, you know we could just move. How many times have we been through this? Honestly, I don’t know why I spend time with you.”
“Really? You don’t think maybe it’s because you don’t have to look up to me?”
“Murray, stop that. You know I love you just the way you are. You’re handsome, intelligent, talented, why, I’d go out with you in a minute!”
He scowled at her and smacked his forehead in frustration.
“Susan, you’re my sister!”
“I’m just saying. You really shouldn’t sell yourself short, you’re…uh oh.”
Susan could swear she could see steam coming out of his ears.
“Oh, so now you’re going with short jokes, eh? It’s not enough that I have to put up with the lanky-wankers over there, my own sister has it in for me!”
Susan reached over and put her hand on his arm.
“Murray, that was just a slip of the tongue. I’m sorry. C’mon, you know I would never – I mean, me, of all people…”
She could see he wasn’t listening. Still, she hated to see him this way.
“Murray, they’re just ordinary people and – “
“Oh, and I’m not? Thanks, sis.”
Right, it was time for a change in direction again.
“Hey, what do you say we go to that new ice cream place you like? We can get your favourite flavour. My treat.”
His facial expression changed and she could see she had hit on a winner.
“Well, okay, I guess.”
He glared at the couple again and then smiled at her.
“I could use a change of scenery anyway.”
They got up and headed toward the exit. As they left the couple at the next table glanced at them and the woman turned to her partner.
“Boy, they were sure having a heated argument over there. What do you think they were on about?”
He shrugged and looked at them again.
“Who knows? Dwarfs are weird.”