Corduroy was early. He tried to be on time and sometimes he even attempted 'late.' But it never worked. He was too conscious of time.
I was even earlier. In fact, I had screwed up the time in my head and arrived two hours ago. But he was here and I could finally eat lunch.
I slid out of our booth at the back of our favourite Transylvanian restaurant to give him a hug.
"Long time no see, big brother!" I said.
He shrank back from my flung-out arms so I let them drop awkwardly at my sides.
"Um, well, have a seat. Is this table okay for you?" I asked. He turned and surveyed the room.
"It's fine," he said and sat down without removing his voluminous overcoat.
"They have a hook there you can hang your coat on." I pointed to the wrought-iron cat's tail above his head.
"What's wrong with you?" I said. "No brotherly hug and you look like you are trying to hide from the world in that huge coat. It's the middle of summer. Not so great a disguise if that's what you are going for."
He pulled his arms from the coat and let it settle behind him. Absently scratching at a pimple on his forehead, he looked at me and opened his mouth-
"Would sir and madam like a drink to start?" a voice inquired. I squeaked in surprise. "My apologies madam, I didn't mean to scare you."
"I'll have the house martini, Jeff," I told him. "And he'll have the sour cherry wine. Bring a bottle please, and two glasses."
"Certainly madam." He bowed slightly and backed away.
"What if I don't want the sour cherry wine?" Corduroy's deep voice carried over the tinkle and clink of cutlery and plates. He glared at me across the table. "Why do you always order for me? It's getting annoying." The pimple he had scratched had bled a little and dried on his nut-brown skin. He rolled his head a few times and massaged the right side of his neck with his left hand.
"What's on your mind, Cordy?" I asked. Leaning forward, I put both my arms on the table, palms up, and reached them towards him. "Come on, you can tell your little sister."