“This is a nice place,” James said as he took his seat. “Not too fancy, but nice.”
“I wanted to have one last dinner together,” Paul replied.
“Last? Is something happening? Are you going somewhere?”
“We all are. With the eclipse tomorrow.”
“You know, the end of the world.”
“Can I get you something to drink?” The waiter had appeared at their table.
Without pause, Paul answered. “A bottle of your best Cabernet Sauvignon, please.”
James looked at his friend with disbelief. “You think the world is going to end tomorrow?”
“That’s what the eclipse means.”
“We’ve had eclipses before, you know.”
“And the world hasn’t ended.” Paul didn’t go in for practical jokes, but he was smart, so James wasn’t sure what to make of this absurd idea.
“So why do you think this time will be different?”
“Oh, it won’t be.”
“So you’re kidding.”
“Here you are, sir. Would you care to inspect it?” The waiter was back with a bottle in hand.
Paul waved his hand. “No need. I’m sure it will be fine.”
The waiter nodded and uncorked the wine. He poured a small amount and placed the glass in front of Paul, who made a show of picking it up and sniffing it. “Smells good.”
The waiter seemed put off but tried to hide it. He poured a full glass for each of them and left again.
“Do you even like wine?” James asked.
“Tonight I do.”
“Okay. So what did you mean that this time was no different, but the world will still end? They can’t both be true.”
“Hmm. You may be right.”
“Now you’re sounding more reasonable. No more talk of the world ending, okay? Let’s just enjoy dinner.”
“Alright,” Paul replied as he opened his menu
* * *
The next day, after the eclipse, the crowd on the street broke up, and James headed back to his office building. While taking off his viewing glasses, which made it impossible to see anything else, he bumped into someone on the sidewalk. He awkwardly apologized and began walking again. A sense of déjà vu stopped him. When he turned around, he found that the other man had sopped as well.
“Do I know you?” James asked.
“I was wondering the same thing. Maybe we went to school together?”
“Yeah, that must be it. My name is James.”
The other man extended his hand. “Nice to meet you. Paul.”
They shook hands and nodded their acknowledgements. James then walked back to his office, still wondering where he had seen Paul before.