Placing his cappuccino in front of him the waitress glanced at the cover of the book Ted was reading and smiled. She liked intellectual types. He caught her smile out of the corner of his eye.
“Have you read this?”
“Oh, no. I was just…um, it looks interesting.”
“Oh, it is. It’s fascinating.”
He checked out the flip side as she walked away. Nice. Taking a sip of his coffee he went back to his book. A minute later he was startled to find a woman sitting in the seat opposite studying his book. An acrid smell came to his nostrils and he wrinkled them briefly and then focused on the woman. Blond, dark eyes, late twenties, she was gorgeous. Reminded him of the waitress.
She locked eyes with him and gave him a smile that completely disarmed him.
“Hi. Are you enjoying your book?”
He closed it and pushed it to one side. The day was looking up.
“You’re the second person to be interested in that subject. Have you read it?”
She glanced at the title. 21 Grams. By Guillermo Arriaga.
“Yes. I quite like Spanish authors. Have you read The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada? Same author.”
“No, I didn’t know that. I saw the movie.”
“And the film of the one you’re reading?”
She glanced around. “I like this place. Gingham curtains, red tuck and roll faux-leather booths, soothing green walls. Perfect.”
He was warming to her more and more by the minute. “Do you come here often?”
She smirked and cupped her chin in her intertwined fingers. “Is that a come on?”
“Oh, no, I…I just meant…”
“Relax. Tell me, do you buy into the premise of the book?”
“That the human soul weights 21 grams? I don’t see why not. I mean, wasn’t there a scientist who proved it?”
“Something like that”, she shrugged. “But who can say that it’s a soul that weighs that much?”
She was intriguing. “What else could it be?”
Batting her eyelashes at him she leaned across the table and whispered, “If I told you we’d have to make a deal.”
Letting a laugh slip through he cut it off as her face went hard and serious.
“What’s this all about?”
“I’m sorry.” She lightened up and patted his hand. “It’s just that the book annoys me a bit. You see, it’s not the soul that weighs 21 grams when it leaves the body at death; it’s the accumulation of all of a person’s unresolved anxieties. Things that are unresolved for a period of time attain mass of a sort and accumulate in the body.”
He blinked at her, unsure if she was having him on. Her look suggested that was not the case. He was nonplussed but interested all the same.
“And where do you get that information?”
“Oh, trust me, there are things beneath the sun and stars that are not given for most to know.”
“Okay, you are pulling my leg. You sure had me going.”
“You doubt me?”
“Well, let’s just say…hmm…”
“Right. Tell you what then. I can prove it to you. You have unresolved issues in your life. They’re with you all the time, no? It’s true for everyone. I can take that 21 grams from you, leave you anxiety free for the rest of your days. How does that sound?”
“How would you do that? And anyway, what would you want in return?”
“Well, let me see…how about if write down that what I’ve told you is true and you sign it, thereby asserting that I was right? That is, if I do in fact leave you feeling blissful and anxiety free.”
Wow, he thought, she was a strange one, but attractive and original for sure.
“Okay, it’s a deal. Provided you’ll have dinner with me tonight.”
She gave him a sly smile. “We’ll see. Let’s do this first.”
She wrote it all down on a piece of paper she produced from her pocket and then, closing her eyes, she began to murmur something under her breath. She reached out and placed one finger on his forehead, just between his eyes. Gradually he began to feel as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. He was beaming at her with an idiotic grin.
“That’s incredible. I feel so light…”
“Well, you’re 21 grams lighter so that makes sense. Here, sign this.”
Reaching for the pen he didn’t bother reading what was written, he simply signed while eyeing her with a goofy grin on his face. Nothing else mattered now.
“So, will you have dinner with me?”
She stood and regarded him with a jaundiced eye. “Oh, I don’t think so, I have work to do.”
Walking away with another soul Satan morphed back into the waitress. He was enjoying his latest gambit. He would harvest a few more souls and call it a day.