Sushi. Why was sushi supposed to be such an original date idea? If everybody did it, then it wasn’t original. Maybe McDonalds? Yeah, that would be original … if not a little cheap.
“… and so this is my third. At least … hello?” Carol heard the voice across the table say.
“Huh?” she shook her head. She didn’t want to be rude, but at forty-two, dating had become something of a chore to her. “I’m sorry,” she smiled, “I just drifted off.”
The man across the table was handsome; not a hottie or man-candy, but handsome in a mature and experienced sort of way. Robert was her third date from Inseparable.com.
“This whole Internet dating thing is kinda stupid huh?” Robert nodded to her.
“Yeah,” Carol admitted. “I’m sorry, I don’t want you to feel bad or anything …”
“Carol,” Robert sighed in a knowing and accepting sort of way. “I’m forty-three years old. I’ve been around the block too many times. You and both know this Inseparable thing just isn’t what its advertised.”
“I know,” Carol smiled. She was glad he understood.
“So what do you think this guarantee is?” Robert asked. “They gave us a signed guarantee that we would find an inseparable relationship in three dates.”
Carol picked up a slice of dragon roll and tapped her finger, “Oh, you know how guarantees are these days.” Quickly, she chewed down the smoked salmon roll, “Probably something stupid like a coupon to Best Buy or Taco Bell.”
Robert chuckled as he fumbled with his chopsticks, “Nothing but the best huh?”
“Actually,” a strong, baritone voice said from the table next to them. “It’s a real guarantee.”
Carol and Robert turned in unison as a very well dressed man in an expensive suit turned to them and extended his hand, “Jimmy Dango, founder of Inseparable dot com.”
“Um, hi Mr. Dango,” Robert responded hesitantly while shaking his hand. “What are you doing here?”
The dapper man shook Carol’s hand and answered, “I always visit the couples we think are at risk on their third date.”
Carol twisted up her face and bit the inside of her cheek, her equivalent of biting her tongue, “Oh really, trying to play cupid?”
Jimmy rolled his eyes as he looked for the right words, “Eh, sort of see …”
“I’m sorry Mr. Dango, but Robert and I just aren’t hitting it off. I mean, we’re both at the age that …” she paused as the website founder just shook his head.
“We gave you guys a guarantee and we picked you two by hand,” he smiled wryly. “We’re going to see it through.”
Abruptly, he nodded to someone behind Carol and everything went black.
* * *
Carol blinked. The light above her was blinding. It wasn’t the sun, that was yellow. It was cold, pale, sterile. She blinked again. It was a hospital light.
“Wha ..?” the sound crawled out of her chest.
The light was blacked out, “Ah, you’re awake. Good.”
“Who ..?” she tried to ask. What happened? Where was she? How did she get there? Panic was starting to wrap itself around her heart.
“Well Ms. Blakely, we made you a guarantee,” the quickly materializing form of Jimmy Dango replied. “And we’re seeing it through.”
“I … wha ..?” she stammered as the website founder nodded next to her, indicating he wanted her to look.
She rolled her head to the side and saw Robert laying on a table next to her. A red, bloody artery had been pulled out of his chest and held in place with crude staples and stitches. A two feet from the exit wound, his heart beat on a tray between them. Then she noticed the artery headed toward her. The umbilical poked down into her chest through an ugly batch of staples and thread.
They were sharing a heart!
“There you go,” the dapper, blood covered man said over her screams, “Another couple of one heart thanks to Inseparable dot com.”