Midwest Purgatory: A Stalled Travelogue, chapter one (part 3)

Rusty attempted not to appear irritated as he gathered his rough draft off the floor, reassembling it into something resembling an order. The woman watched him, seemingly amused. This irritated Rusty further.

“Arizona Spokes,” she said.
“I’m sorry?”
“Arizona Spokes.”
“Is that a band or something?”
“It’s my name.”
“Oh! Sorry.”
“About my name?”
“What? No, I…”
“Don’t be, I am too. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
“Well, uh, I’m Awkward.” Arizona raised her eyebrows, a silent agreement. “Rusty! Rusty Awkward,” he added. “That’s my name.”

She looked surprised, then laughed, a little too long and a little too loudly. Rusty was glad there was no one else in the diner.

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad, right?”
“It’s not that. I saw your play! Undertaken Away.”
“Oh, you did?”
“Yes!” she said, still laughing. “It was terrible!”

Rusty was infuriated. Who was this woman? He was a published playwright, dammit. He excused himself tersely and departed, leaving behind his discarded draft, his not-coffee and a shocked Arizona Spokes.

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