THE HONEYMOON by Dan Nielsen

The bus stopped. Bill removed Jill’s blindfold. Jill blinked and squinted out the window.

“Where are we?”

“New York City, my love.”

“I was hoping for Niagara Falls.”

“It’s okay,” Bill said, “You can see Niagara Falls perfectly well from the top of the Empire State Building.”

“You can?” Jill looked at Bill. “But it’s four hundred miles away.”

“The Empire State Building is four hundred stories tall,” Bill said. “With skyscrapers the ratio is one mile per story.”

“Where did you read that?”

“It’s common knowledge.”

On top of the Empire State Building, Jill put a quarter into the coin-operated binoculars. Bill pointed her in the correct direction.

“I can’t see anything,” Jill said. “The distance is shrouded in mist.”

“That’s spray from the falls, sweetheart,” Bill said. “You can’t see it because of what it is. I hope you aren’t too disappointed.”

Jill hated being disappointed.

“I’m not, darling. I promise.”

The time on the binoculars ran out. Bill took Jill’s hand. They walked over to the railing.

“Those people down there look like ants,” Bill said.

“Yes, they do,” Jill said. “Only much bigger.”

Bill had reserved a room at the least expensive hotel he could find that made no mention of bedbugs in the comments. There were fleabag remarks, but Bill knew the difference between infestation and metaphor.

“Well, what do you think?”

“It’s really nice,” Jill said, throwing the bedspread out the window.

“Yes, it is, isn’t it,” Bill said.

“This must be the honeymoon suite,” Jill said, burning the sheets in the bathtub.

“You’re disappointed,” Bill said, suddenly sad.

Jill hated when Bill was sad.

“Why don’t spiders wash their feet?” Jill said, giving Bill a hug.

“I don’t know,” Bill said, smiling. “Why don’t spiders wash their feet?”

“Because it never occurs to them,” Jill said.

They both laughed, but maybe it was the sprinklers coming on.

At the front desk, Bill said, “We’d like a different room.”

“A completely different room,” Jill said, doing something with her phone.

“In another hotel,” Bill said.

The hotel clerk did something on his computer.

“Are you refunding our money?” Bill asked.

“No,” the hotel clerk said. “I’m deleting the comment your wife just left.”

Bill and Jill had no idea what to do, or where to go, so they rode the subway and slept like babies, waking every few hours and crying themselves back to sleep. In the morning, their shoes and luggage were gone. Luckily, Bill still had his wallet and credit card.

Buying shoes without shoes was the hardest part. After that it was easy to get new clothes and new luggage and first-class airplane tickets to Buffalo.

“Nothing is too good for my bride,” Bill said, mentally calculating the interest, and the years it would take to pay for all of this.

“I love you so much,” Jill said.

It was an hour bus ride from the airport to Niagara Falls. Jill was ecstatic. This was her dream honeymoon.

On the observation deck, Bill put a quarter in the coin-operated binoculars. Jill pointed them back toward New York City.

“Can you see it, Bill? Can you see it?”

“Yes, I can, Jill. I can see the Empire State Building.”


Dan Nielsen drinks bourbon and plays ping pong. Old credits include Random House and University of Iowa Press anthologies. Recent work in: Jellyfish Review, Bird’s Thumb, Minor Literature[s], Storm Cellar, Cheap Pop, and Pidgeonholes. Dan has a website: Preponderous and you can follow him on Twitter@DanNielsenFIVES