I’VE SAT in this place on most days for the past few years.
It’s good to think, to clear your head, to observe. It’s good for the soul. There’s a fear in me — it’s existed for as long as I can remember — when it comes to everyday life. The modern way. The race for the prize. I see the people who come into this place from different walks of life. Most of them, on the surface, are happy. Cafés tend to be vibrant and positive places, but underneath it all they’ve got life. Life, in all its deleterious and indiscriminate glory, is lurking behind the street corner once they leave this building, ready to pounce.
There’s this writer — his name I’ve never caught — but he comes here all the time. The laptop’s an appendage. He enters the building, smiles at one or two people (which strikes me as being disingenuous) and sits in the same seat once it’s available. He takes out that laptop and sits there for hours on end typing whatever it is he types. He looks young, but he could be between twenty-five and thirty-five; it’s hard to tell. He sometimes has meetings with these artsy-looking people. I hear them talk about films and screenplays and scenes and actors. And then they’ll mention something they’re collaborating on. They’ve always been men — the people he talks with — so when a woman walks in and sits opposite him I’m quite surprised to be absolutely honest, and so is he judging by the look on his face.
She’s simply sexy. There’s a difference between beautiful and sexy. Most men would describe a girl they’d take home to their mother as ‘beautiful’ and the girl with whom they’d like to spend a night in a hotel as ‘sexy’. The clue is in the word.
This guy must have seen her as being both sexy and beautiful.
‘I don’t think we should talk about it here,’ the writer begins, looking around the café self-consciously.
‘I don’t care,’ she says. She’s determined: a conversation of immense importance to their relationship is going to take place, whether the writer guy likes it or not.
‘I’m talking about it now,’ she says. She’s blonde, prominent cheekbones, blood-red lipstick, blue eyes. Sexy. Even her hair is sexy.
‘What do you want me to say?’ he asks.
‘That there’s something,’ she says.
‘I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.’
‘You know exactly what it means, Wayne.’
Wayne. Thanks, lady.
Wayne is wearing a burgundy shirt, with the top button open, and grey pants. He has a cup in front of him. His girlfriend (they’re too young to be married, at least she is) is wearing tight grey jeans and a long brown cardigan — so long that it goes down to her knees.
She takes his cup and drinks from it.
‘I think we can’t keep doing this,’ she says.
The writer, Wayne, says nothing. He looks out the window: there’s a man outside asking people for change.
‘I don’t know.’
‘You’re a writer, I’m sure you can do better than that.’
That’s what I was thinking.
‘Are you happy?’ she asks him.
He takes a long time to respond, still looking at the beggar outside. Then he looks at her; a look that says he doesn’t want to say what he’s about to say.
‘I love you,’ he says.
The writer looks away again, and the sexy blonde stands up.
‘I’ll pack my things tonight,’ she says, before turning and leaving the cafe. The writer doesn’t follow her; he simply gets back to his writing.
The waitress, Erica, is clocking-off. I place my hand over my fresh cup of coffee.
‘What’s the plan?’ I ask.
‘Home,’ Erica says. ‘I’m tired.’
I tell her that I’m tired, too, and then I drink my coffee.