There’s some chance she’s in the right kind of place this time around.
A tall can of red bull and some bed head hidden under a hoodie tell those who are tuned in -and watching- he’s not hungover, he’s not awake yet and he probably worked til closing time downtown. His stance, his walk, the way he takes up space doesn’t give away much about his plans, his passions or what he does between locking up and hitting the sheets. The room is full of talk and he’s a quiet observer who opens up when he’s spoken to but doesn’t take notice when someone is trying to get inside his head-just a little bit- to see what makes young men tick these days.
She’s thinking he’s got a few late night hanger-on-ers who cozy up between last call and the lifting of the chairs to the table tops and the pushing of the broom and the never ending wiping, scraping, stocking and stacking in prep for the next day. Certainly the way he closes his back teeth when he’s pondering the next section of the paper, the way that makes his jaw flex at the curve of his face below his ear, has caused more than a few pretty missy’s to tune in to the brown eyes under that mop of hair.
One can’t fault them for sidling up and introducing themselves, and though he only knows them by drink, they call him by name and try to get him to talk a little bit about his world in the place they frequent on a Friday night. He admits that’s how the night goes. He’s making great tips, loves the mix of the crowd, the mess of lives laid out down the line, where they don’t think he hears a word, but he doesn’t miss a storyline.
He’s heard it all and then some- like Miss Vodka Tonic with a Lime- she’s leaning into the rail now. She’s got her breasts pressed up against the wood and he can see that she’s at that point where she’s either going to start slurring her words while she offers him a ride home after he closes or she’s going to slip off that barstool and nearly hit her head on the floor just before her two good friends scoop her up, lift her to a respectable upright position with a quick under-hook of both arms. She’s done it before. She’ll do it again.
Over at the corner is Miss Belgian Pilsner. Well, at least that is who she is tonight. On Saturday night when she comes in, and he knows she will, and sure enough, she’ll sit in the same place, because she always does, usually with a friend at the other side of the turn, and then she’ll be a Stella or a Heineken, and try to laugh it off when her friend asks her to just drink a goddamn shot or ten with her. Tonight she’s starting to look like she’s regretting the last one she ordered but her friend is in the middle of a story about the renovations at her cottage and the addition of the jacuzzi hot tub and the finishing touch of the pretty strings of lights around the new deck and she figures if she just sips along in time to the staccato bursts of, “It’s just so so beautiful!” she’ll lock down an invite for the July 4th weekend and she won’t have to go to the racetrack to watch the white trash bet on the next demo car that’s going to make it through the fifth heat.
Fireball is standing to his left. She’s got it figured out. She comes in and has a White Russian and then she orders a tall water with lime. She takes her time with the ice, plays with the straw, turning both around in her glass like a seasoned butter maker running a churn. When she’s got a balance of 1:1 she orders a round of Fireball and throws it back and takes her time on the swallow to make sure she feels the burn and catches the cinnamon on her exhale and really gets the taste of alcohol deep down and solid on the back of her tongue. She’s had her time to drink too much, talk too little, leave too early. Now she knows what she’s there for and she paces herself. Gone are the days of the tall glasses of LongIsland Iced tea; she’s traded them all in for the tiny cup of straight up 45.5 percent and she can still dance, bitch, tell a joke and make eyes at the tall, smiling guy who has the great pair of brown leather oxfords paired with the skinny leg jeans.
This morning, sitting on the couch, legs tucked up underneath her, open laptop purring, she thinks, taps out a few lines, pauses and looks over at him today where he’s perched at the window seat. He likes to land there when he comes in to the coffee stop affectionately referred to as Jessie’s Living Room but the sign out front just says, Jessie’s. He’s got an omelette on order, heavy on the ham, coming out any minute and though she’s been there, in the same shop most mornings when he breezes in, just sitting there doing a little writing while her flat white keeps her company, she remains unseen.
Today, he looks up just as she tilts her face to the sunlight coming through the same window that he’s sort of blocking, and he looks straight into her eyes and puts his hands on his knees as she stops pecking away at the keyboard. They don’t freeze. It isn’t like they stop breathing or gasp in astonished thralls of interest; they simply look into each other’s faces and openly appreciate the view and both smile broadly at each other, his jaw clenching to show that muscle, her eyes lighting up with an easy acceptance of his admiring gaze.
Good Morning world. I’m so glad you are out there. Cups up and take a sip of the day with me. Let’s not talk at all, but instead, let’s openly appreciate a stranger and accept the heady and honest narrative that courses through the mind.
#for Reticent Mental Property. Images courtesy of the web. With a nod to the coffee shop where Ret writes and those who grace the tables in that lovely little space.