The couple in the corner is playing couple games in the secluded privacy of their own minds and the public arena of their attention grabbing giggles. The writer at the table sighs wearily at every sopranic outburst. The business man on his phone chatters away about his latest deal. The waiter counts the bills out two or three times in a futile attempt to make change and not pay attention to everyone else.
She skips ephemerally in her mind as she glides across the room. Everything is going so well. Everything is just about perfect.
The blue evening dress she wears is covered in a black leather jacket. A white walking stick skitters in front of her with the smooth precision of endless repetition.
She sits demurely at a tiny table against the back wall, props her stick up, and fastens her shawl securely against her hair.
The waiter finally figures out numbers and sorts himself before making his way over.
“Pie please. Pie and the blue bottle.”
“The blue bottle?”
“The one in the glass case? If it isn’t there anymore then don’t worry about it but I would appreciate it if you would check.”
The waiter opens a mouth but collects the thoughts before they find their way out and purses uncertain lips before nodding and walking away.
A bell rings.
The door slides open and shut.
She plays origami games with her napkin. Her sunglasses direct her ears as she scans the room. The sounds roll over her. Too many to track. To scattered to care. She blinks back daydreams as the waiter returns.
He carefully puts a neat slice of pie down with a clink of china on tile tabletop. Another clink as a fork is added. Then a soft impact, the careful placement of glass filled too much to chime just right.
He opens his mouth to quote the price but remembers surprised that he already brought her her change. Before he can embarrass himself he walks away.
“Now that was hardly fair.”
She shrugs a uncaring soundless gesture.
“Why did you do it?”
Another shrug rolls off her shoulders, this one slightly puzzled.
“Did she make you do it?”
A gentle peal of stifled laughter rolls through the room like the soundless dirge of an approaching storm front. The writer stares at the words he just wrote. Hands trembling he gets up and walks out, leaving his laptop, coffee, and bag.
“I had to ask.”
The business man says “Hello, hello? Bah the reception here is terrible!” as makes his way out of the store.
“Now there is no need to be like that. I didn’t-”
She folds her hands over the table trembling. Then lifts them and takes off her shades. Her eyes glisten darkly against her face.
The waiter hears something urgent and rushes into the back to find it.
A thousand lights collapse into silence. A voice shouts against a roaring train.
“FINE! FINE! I SEE HOW YOU ARE!”
The earth shattering rumbling of midnight cascades across the table consuming the pie and fork.
“SO VERY POLITE TO SCREAM OVER A QUESTION!”
A door rings.
A bell opens and shuts.
She puts her glasses back on and adjusts the red scarf against her hair again. Her hands find her stick.
The couple never realizes that aren’t alone, completely wrapped up in each other. She stands, smooths her dress, and makes her way out and along the street.
“Skitter skitter tic tic.” Endless repetition and practice covers the sidewalk from street to masonry.