The Idiot

 

THE CAFE was quiet, and a young couple sat in the corner by the window and were having an argument. They were in their late teens. She had been crying; her eyes were puffy and red and she looked around the café, somewhat embarrassed. He was sullen-faced and petulant. He didn’t want to have the conversation.

Then The Idiot walked in.

‘I’ll have all of you,’ he shouted.

There was no security guard there at that time of day.

Everyone in the place looked at him. He was bedraggled and clearly drunk, and he carried a paper bag with handles, which he swung wildly as he declared once more: ‘I’ll have all of you!’

One of the baristas approached him and asked him to leave, but he refused.

He took a seat and sat quietly. They decided to let him be, seeing as he had apparently finished making a scene.

He looked at everyone in the café, scanning the entire floor. From his bag he took a plastic bottle, unscrewed the top and drank from it.

The young couple got back to their argument. She removed her hands from the table when her boyfriend tried to place his on them. Then he sat back in his chair and puffed his cheeks, shaking his head. His face was red.

‘If I wasn’t drunk—’ but she cut him off.

‘You think that’s a valid excuse?’

He sighed again.

Then The Idiot stood up and approached the counter.

‘Gimme a whiskey,’ he said.

The barista ignored him.

A young, sickly kid ordered a drink and the barista took his name.

‘Whiskey,’ said The Idiot.

‘Sir,’ the barista began. ‘If you don’t sit down I’ll have to ask you to leave.’

‘I just want a drink,’ he slurred.

‘I’ll bring you a drink if you sit down.’

The Idiot made his way back to his seat and sat down.

He looked at the young, conflicted couple.

‘They call me The Idiot. Everyone does.’

The young couple looked away awkwardly.

‘Everyone,’ he reaffirmed loudly, causing a few customers to look around again. Then everybody got back to their laptops and conversations and drinks. The Idiot sniffed and surveyed the store with a contemptuous gaze.

The girl looked at her boyfriend as she felt tears threatening arrival, like the rumble of a train before it emerges from the inky tunnel.

‘I love you,’ she quavered, which was accompanied by a wonderfully contradicting anger.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said.

The Idiot was brought a drink of water by the barista, whose nametag read Erica. He looked at it, began to chuckle to himself, and gulped the contents. He handed the cup to Erica who took it, made her way behind the bar and filled it again with water. She gave him the cup and he sipped from it as he looked at the young couple.

‘He is an idiot,’ she murmured as she looked at neither her boyfriend nor The Idiot.

‘Hey, you,’ The Idiot said to her.

She looked away, refusing to acknowledge his presence.

The Idiot stood up and unsteadily made his way to the table at which the young couple were seated. She looked up at him, as did her boyfriend.

Without a word, The Idiot emptied his cup of water over the boyfriend’s head, who sat, soaked, in quiet shock.

The Idiot began to chuckle as he was approached by Erica, who escorted him out of the café, with his paper bag in hand. His giggling could be heard from outside. Then, as her boyfriend looked at her, his mouth agape, his hair dripping wet, the girl began to laugh uncontrollably.

She picked up her bag, aching with laughter.

She left the café, and her boyfriend.

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