Volume III (Summer 2008)
ISSN 1934-4324

David M. Pacelli

David M Pacelli is in the grad program at Southern Connecticut State University, pursuing an MA in English, fiction writing. He lives alone in a studio apartment in the city, wears a scarf inside the house, and drinks coffee in diners late at night. He sees himself as very unique.


What is it like to have Dinner with a Knight?


He keeps you waiting, at the table, alone. You, drumming your fingers, feel the four other customers staring, probably feeling sorry you’re alone. You like that there’s only four other people – who else eats dinner at eight? – but you want to scream at them, particularly the blond still wearing her sunglasses, that you’re waiting for someone. A date.


But you don’t scream. No. You know that you would be staring, too, if you saw someone, eating dinner, alone, in a small Italian restaurant.


He finally comes in a half hour late, to his theme song of metal rubbing metal, like the sound of a swinging rusty gate. Every step reminds you of your front door slamming

shut. Even in the dim light of the taper candle, you see dirt and blood caked on his armor, and his raised pointed visor reveals a blackened face and bloodshot eyes. Eyes red from crying, crying over fallen knights, friends, enemies.


You smell his dirt, and sweat, and rust, and blood, and piss, and shit, and vomit, and even some grass. And you wonder, is this a joke? But you know it isn’t. The other customers are staring too, shaking their heads. Your co-worker, who set up this blind date, said he was a real knight in shinning armor. You thought she was kidding.


He leans his sword against the white-clothed table, nods, and says “hi.”. The Victorian replica chair screams as your knight sits down. He lifts a blood-speckled gauntlet to call over the balding waiter, forgetting to apologize for being late.


You snap open your napkin, smile, and say, “Hi.” You try not to show your anger, because you hate confrontation, especially on a first date.


When the waiter comes, he glances at your knight, and then at you. He clutches

the two menus, and asks, “what will you be having?”


You haven’t decided so your knight orders first. “A garden salad, meatless with extra spinach -- I’ve seen enough death for my lifetime,” he says, “and a glass of Pinot Grigio.”


You stick to the salad too, and a Diet Coke.


You watch as he picks up his napkin, holds a corner, lets it drop open, and then fall to his lap like a ghost. He looks at you, smiles, then stares at the candle. His gauntlet hands pressed together, in a silent prayer.


When the wine is poured, you watch him take a sip while still wearing his gauntlets. You hope he doesn’t keep them on in bed. He swishes the wine, swallows, then nods his head.


Throughout dinner, he doesn’t talk. But you see a rhythm to his eating – stabbing as much of the salad as he can with his fork, and then taking little bits from the forkful, as if he was eating corn on the cob. After each forkful, he smiles at you, smells his wine, and then takes a sip.


You drown a crouton in salad dressing. You want to break the rhythm, the silence, and ask, how was your day? Did you do anything exciting?


But you don’t. You sip your Diet Coke and stare at him, hoping he’ll look up. He doesn’t. You stab a grape tomato, watch the juice and seeds leak. No matter how boring your retail job is, his day as a knight in the 21st century has to be worse. Battles must be harder and harder to find, you think. And you wonder, where does he do battle? A question you want to ask him, too, but don’t. What if he’s a mercenary? What if he’s looking for a nine-five job? Should you ask if he’d like a job in retail? Or, if he’d ever consider it a career choice?


When the bill comes, you both look at it, like it should be feared. He reaches for it, gently, with grace. And you wonder where he keeps his money.