Cafe Stories #FridayFictioneers

Penny had taken shifts at the cafe to help pay off her bills. She wasn’t that interested in the work but the people who came to her tables kept her going.

She would hear all kinds of stories as she served food and drinks. There was gossip about neighbours, family members and friends, reviews of books, music and movies, discussions of sports and memories of the past.

Penny loved seeing love bloom as couples dated, the growth of families, the harmony and discord of life. It was all here to see in the cafe.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/08/21/23-august-2019/ with thanks).

Advertisements

Salt

eat-1403082_1920

Doctor Roy Parker stood on the end of the pier, huddled in a huge winter coat and looking around. Everyone thought him mad to take a seaside holiday in February but he embraced it. The quietness at the out of season resort, the emptiness of the beach and town, no worries or cares, created a perfect escape from an intense twenty-four hours- seven days a week hospital job.

Resting his arms on the rotting wooden rail, Roy watched and listened to the gale force winds creating mini sand storms along the beach below. Out at sea, the wave tops were whipped into meringue peaks which then crashed onto the shore and got left behind by the large rasping, rolling salty water.

Rain started falling, fat drops plopping onto the wooden boards, the damp sand and stormy sea. Roy didn’t mind, this was nature at one of it’s wildest moments and he could just become lost in the raging weather. He balanced himself against the elements, letting them sweep everything away for a good while.

The wind became more violent, throwing sand and waves upwards to Roy. A tingle of danger went through him and the Doctor decided he’d had enough for the moment. With rain and sand grains clinging to him and sea salt the only thing he could smell, Roy finally turned away and walked back to the large dome cafe that dominated the middle of the pier.

He opened the door and was greeted by a gentle warm hug of air. Choosing a seat near a  right hand side window, Roy noticed he was the fourth customer in the cafe. Two old ladies in their seventies or eighties, sat a few tables away in the center row, were enjoying a meal. To the far left, next to a rain coated window, a young man in his twenties or thirties, sat with his eyes closed and hands around a white mug. A yellow Labrador guide dog sit at his feet, tongue lolling, face attentive.

The rest of the tables, though set for customers were empty, giving an eerily abandoned impression to the place which the weather made all the more real.

Looking towards the counter and kitchen area, Roy saw a bored teenage girl at the till putting a brownie onto a plate. Listening, he heard a soft brush of musical notes coming from the kitchen along with the smell of mingled hot food and coffee.

Roy picked up the plastic covered menu wedged behind glass salt and pepper shakers and a bottle of vinegar. He scanned the deserts and drinks list then turned the menu over to see the meals. There wasn’t a lot of choice but that wasn’t a surprise.

Meanwhile, the waitress took the brownie to the blind man and spoke to him for a few minutes. She patted the guide dog’s head. Roy got the impression they knew each other which in this small town was easy to believe. Then the girl turned, coming towards him whilst digging out a paper pad and pen from her white apron bag.

‘Hi, what can I get you?’ she asked in a fake bright voice.

‘A pot of tea,’ Roy answered.

The girl noted it down.

‘And fish and chips.’

The girl made to nod then replied, ‘if you order the special it comes with tea, bread and butter.’

‘Is that a pot or just a cup?’ Roy asked, avoiding the temptation to look at the menu again.

The waitress thought for a moment as if she had forgotten or was deciding something, ‘I can make it a pot,’ she stated and wrote on her pad again.

‘Thank you,’ Roy said.

The girl walked off and disappeared into the kitchen. Roy listened for voices but the wind, rain and sea were in storm mode and all other sounds were now blocked out. Turning to the window, Roy watched the rain pounding against the glass and clouding the view which he imagined on a nice summer day was a picturesque beach.

He was lost in his thoughts for awhile, so when the waitress appeared with his tea, Roy was slightly startled.

‘There you go,’ the girl said as she set a tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl and cup down.

Roy thanked her as she headed back to the kitchen then looked at the mismatched and dented tea set. The poor sliver colored tea pot had seen better days, the rim of the sugar bowl was chipped and the darker sliver milk jug looked like it could fall apart. He gingerly poured the steaming tea and fridge cool milk into his tea cup.

‘Excuse me, Sadie,’ a man’s voice called loudly.

Roy looked about and saw the blind man trying to attracted the waitress attention.

‘I’ll get her for you, dear,’ one of the old ladies spoke.

‘We are leaving now, Mark,’ the second replied.

‘Thank you, Iris and Lilly. I want to leave too,’ the blind man answered, ‘the storm sounds bad, so I’m going to get a taxi.’

They both got up. The first lady, who was wearing a powder pink felt coat and had a hint of pink in her white permed hair, walked slowly to the counter. The other lady dressed in a pale blue felt coat and with blue wisps in her white hair, went over to the blind man.

Roy watched, wondering if they were twins or sisters or friends.

The waitress appeared at the counter, talked to Iris or Lilly then picked up a phone.

The old lady went back to her sister or friend and after saying goodbye to Mark and his dog, headed for the door.

Roy braced himself to feel the bite of the wind as the door opened but he was sat far enough away that he felt just a whisper of the chilly wet air. He picked up his tea and took a few sips, feeling warmth sinking into him.

The girl appeared at his side and placed two plates down, one had two slices of bread and small pot of butter, the other held his fish and chips.

‘There you are. Is there anything else you need?’ she asked.

‘No, thank you,’ Roy answered.

With a single nod, the girl swept away and over to the blind man. She talked to him, no doubt saying she had ordered a taxi.

Roy arranged the plates of food how he wanted them then put salt and vinegar on his fish and chips. He picked up his knife and folk from the white napkin and started eating. It wasn’t the best meal he’d ever had but it tasted great today. The chips had just a crunch to their outside and were soft in the middle. The fish was lightly and crispy battered, soft and tender inside. With the added salt and vinegar the whole thing came together in one celebration in Roy’s mouth.

So distracted was he, Roy didn’t noticed the blind man leaving till he felt a touch of cold. Looking up and towards the door, he saw the man going out and the waitress helping him. She closed the door and hurried through the cafe into the warmth of the kitchen.

Alone, Roy took a moment to glance around then carried on eating. The fish was tasty, though the salt was drying out his lips and he had to keep licking them. He drink some more tea to help. Unable to stop, he ate quickly, forgotten how he’d built his hungry by a morning walk in the town, then along the edge of the beach and around the pier.

He was finished before he knew it. Pouring the last of the tea, Roy hugged the cup and listened to a rumble of thunder in the distance. He looked out of the window and though it was hard to think the weather had gotten worse, it seemed just that.

Roy finished his tea and sat relaxing for a few minutes. Coldness crept over him and he felt stiff in his legs and back from the plastic chair. Perhaps, it was just his imagination but he felt a slight rocking motion.

Getting up, he went to the counter and looked for the girl. A door labeled kitchen was open in the back wall and Roy could hear radio music more clearly now.

‘Hello? he called, his voice sounding loud in the empty cafe.

‘Coming,’ the girl called back.

She appeared, trying to turn a scowl into smile.

‘The bill, please. And if it’s not too much trouble could you phone me a taxi?’

‘Here you go, the girl said and handed him a slip of paper, ‘and yes, I can. Where are you going too?’

‘To the Mermaid Hotel,’ Roy replied as he dug out his wallet.

The girl took his money and made the call. He listened as she said the address of the cafe and the hotel. She hung up the phone and turned back to him, ‘The taxi will be a few minutes and pick you up from the pier enterence.’

‘Thanks,’ Roy answered, he added a ‘goodbye,’ and went to the door.

Preparing to step out into the storm, Roy took a deep breath and opened the door. Rain that felt solid hit him and the strong wind tried to force him back. Roy wrestled with the elements, hurried out and back along the pier.

‘It is swaying!’ he cried.

Daringly, he looked over the safety rail and saw the sea waves arching upwards around the wooden supports. Imagines of the pier collapsing, the buildings crashing down and himself thrown into those violent waves flashed through his mind.

Panicked, Roy ran off the pier, slipping on the wet boards and dodging the small buildings and stalls that were dotted around. He made it safely to the enterence which was an indoor hallway connecting the street to the pier.

Huddling inside there, water dripping everywhere, Roy looked out for his taxi. A rumble of thunder made him jump then laughing loudly, Roy let all his fear go. Of course, the pier was moving! It was built to do so! How else would a wood and iron structure survive the sea? And the storm was only that and nothing to be scared over.

A red car pulled up outside, horn blaring.

Roy opened the door, walked out and got into the taxi.

‘The Mermaid Hotel,’ he said to the reflection of the driver’s face in the rear view mirror.

‘Right O,’ the driver spoke and peeled the car away.

People Watching #TwitteringTales

When inspiration didn’t come for her novels, Darcy would go to Corner Cafe and people watch whilst she sipped a latte. Sometimes little dramas would play out which Darcy could use and other times just daydreaming about the lives around her helped.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/01/22/twittering-tales-120-22-january-2019/ with thanks).

Rainbow Rocks #3linetales

tltweek119

It was properly just some bored artist seeking attention but the painted rocks on the beach were attracting a lot of the public to the area.

For weeks now, people had been swarming around the towering sculptures, marveling at all the colors then spending their money in Molly’s cafe which was handy for her, as Molly’s business hadn’t been doing that great.

When anybody asked her about the rainbow rocks, Molly would smile brightly and say, ‘I know nothing about them but aren’t they great?’ Secretly, she thought them a terrible mark on the nice beach, but if it brought the customers in she couldn’t complain that much.

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/05/10/three-line-tales-week-119/ with thanks).

Post It Note #23

She sat down in the toilet cubical but before she could start crying, she noticed all the writing on the once white walls. In curly blue letters, someone had written; you’re amazing, no matter what happens.  

Xenophobic

Finance, World, Accounting

Xenophobic: ‘A person who is fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or of people from different countries or cultures.’ From thefreedictionary.com.

The girl making his coffee in the retirement village cafe wasn’t the normal one. Henry stopped suddenly and felt someone bump into the back of him. An angry snappy voice sounded in his ears, but he never heard what they said. He couldn’t take his eyes off the girl behind the counter. Her skin was dark, as dark as the night, he thought and her black purple hair was all twisted together in many braids finished off with plastic pony beads.

Someone, probably the man behind him, brushed hard passed Henry and up to the collection counter. He heard a low muttering and the other woman behind the counter taking the next order. He felt the urge to get out, but he still couldn’t take his eyes off the foreign girl. She turned and he saw her bright white eyes with a dark brown center staring at him. She was saying something, but he could not hear her.

She placed his cup of tea down and moved it across to him. Henry looked down at it, chewing his tongue with his remaining teeth.

‘Did I put too much milk in it?’ the girl asked with no trace of an accent.

‘I didn’t save this country for the likes of you,’ Henry growled.

The girl froze and Henry was aware that everyone else seemed to as well.

The girl opened her mouth and shut it again, her face crumpled like paper, but then she seemed to hold on and uncreased her expression.

‘I’m very grateful though,’ she muttered.

‘I don’t care,’ Henry snorted.

He turned and left, trying not to hobble so much. Behind him voices started whispering, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. It didn’t matter, he didn’t care.

 

Observations In The Terrace Cafe

Through the square framed windows the sky is dark with heavy white clouds. On the grey roof of the opposite building a small brown bird hops across the roof tiles. Sitting in here, I listen to the endless late lunch time chatting. Different conversations blend together to form one continuous sound of voices. Mixed into this comes the sound of food packets crunching and the munching of sandwiches.

Plates and cutlery clatter together and somewhere chairs scrap backwards on the grey spotted orange floor. Loud words of ‘good bye’ and ‘see you late’ cut though the background voices and are then gone.

Sitting opposite me, a couple share a magazine. He wears blue jeans with a pale blue top and he has a shaven head. She wears a light brown t-shirt and many bangles on her arms. They get up, he collects his large sports type bag from the floor and she pulls down her black shirt. They walk out together, leaving behind them an abandoned sandwich packet on the table, its usefulness gone.

A girl’s voice flows over the other voices, ‘I could stay here all day.’

Another girl says ‘Where you off to now?’

Their voices fade once more into the background noise.

There is another man sitting opposite me now. He has a short black beard covering his chin and he writes on plain paper with a blue pen. He pauses and takes a bite from his sandwich.

A phone starts ringing, a hip hop music plays and is then quickly silenced. The answering voice is lost in a ripple of loud voices.

There comes the smell of chips that floats over the tables and then fades away.

A girl cries out, ‘Tomato ketchup on lettuce!”

The beard man opposite me has nearly written a side of paper. He stops and checks his phone.

The door opens on squeaky hinges and closes silently.

A man carrying a cutlery holder walks past. He smiles and nods his head at the woman on the till. He then crosses the floor to the cutlery stand, where he empties the cutlery into their correct holders.

Right Place

There were too many distractions at home, so he went to the park. Settling on a bench, he pulled out his MacBook and began writing. A soft warm breeze brought him the scent of cut grass and summer flowers. He could hear children laughing, a dog barking and distant voices. It seemed the perfect background. A family of cyclists went by. The sun catching their bikes’ spinning wheels caused him to glance up. He watched them heading around the corner, the two children trying to overtake their parents.

He looked down again and read the last line. The words blurred before him and for a moment he couldn’t remember why his side character was suggesting they all head to the park. His fingers landed on the delete key and stayed there. His eyes flickered up and he saw a teenager on a skateboard with a border collie running alongside. Looking down again, he deleted that line and instead typed in what he had meant to say.

A whistle blew from somewhere behind him and it was followed by the sounds of a football game ending. He looked over his shoulder, but couldn’t see anything through the clump of tall bushes. Flexing his shoulders, he turned back to his novel and began again. Everything was firmly fixed in his head and found it easy to write. The sound of a tennis match and victorious cries drifted over and he raised his head again.

Painfully, he became away that the background noises of the park were increasing. He looked around and noticed that more children – many in school uniforms- were crowding around the play area. There were more dog walkers, who were being forced to stop and talk to each other as their dogs interacted. People cycling back from work or wherever, sped passed and it seemed that the whole town had descended on the park.

He saved his work, closed his MacBook and put it back in his bag. Getting up, he ran a list of other places through his head and deciding he was thirsty headed to an Artistic Café that was half hidden on a corner next to the art gallery. Arriving there, he found it almost empty. He choice a table at the back and got everything out. He had just plugged his MacBook into a plug socket labelled ‘customer use only’ when a tried looking waitress filled his vision.

He ordered a black coffee and a slice of walnut cake. She nodded, not bothering to write his order down and walked back to the counter. He turned to the screen before him and re-read the last few paragraphs. He noticed a couple of spelling mistakes and one miss use of tense. He fixed them and re-reading the last line once more, began again.

The waitress returned and mumbling a thanks, he carried on. He had almost forgotten his cake and coffee having become caught up in his main character’s monologue, when the door opened. He twisted his head and felt a joyous breath of fresh air on his face. He saw a cluster of art students cramming themselves through the door and to a table. Their noisy voices rose and fall with laughter and sniggers.

He drink his lurk warm coffee and shoved the cake into his mouth. His eyes flickered over the words on the white screen and he’s inner voice give life to the next few lines. His fingers darted over the keyboard, filling more of the white space. His ears rang with the art students’ voice and he turned around to scowl at them.

The waitress was hovering over their table, looking happier. The door opened again more students tumbled in. He saved his work and closed the MacBook. He put everything away and went to the counter. Having paid his bill he left and walked to the library. However, mere minutes after arriving there, finding a quiet desk and setting up, the oppression of the library got to him.

He wasn’t sure why the too full bookcases and the smell of slowly decaying paper made him claustrophobic. Nor why there had to be dim lighting and the sense that everyone around him was trying to be as silent as possible. He left and was greeted outside by a huge relief. He went home, deciding that his kitchen would just have to do.

Snow and Sand

The beach was deserted as Casey and Bilbo took their normal Sunday walk. A fine snow was falling and Casey paused to watch it landing on the choppy wave tops and the sand. She tucked a loose strand of her brown hair back into her hood and wiped at her somewhat runny nose. Switching her red umbrella to her other hand, she flexed the stiff fingers on her bandaged left hand, A result from a fall on ice a few days ago and tried to pull up the fluffy glove covering it. She had to juggle the umbrella and fight against the sleeve of her caramel coloured parker coat to do so.

Bilbo barked and she looked down at the white West Highland Terrier. He was wrapped up in a warm tartan patterned dog coat and had just dropped a small piece of drift wood at her wellington booted feet. His stumpy tail was wagging madly and his panting pink tongue was covered in sand grains and a sliver of bark.

‘It’s too cold,’ she told him and shivered slightly.

Bilbo barked again and jumped a pace back. He wouldn’t take that as her reason.

‘Just for a few minutes,’ Casey said and switching the umbrella again, picked up the stick.

Even through her gloves, she could feel the roughness of the wood. The sea had yet to make it smooth and she wondered where it had come from. She threw it along the beach, careful to keep the little dog out of the chilly waves. Bilbo shot off, barking like a mad in determined to retrieve the new play thing.

Casey watched him go before glancing around the beach once more. Snow was piled up against the wooden wave breaking fences and the chipped stone wall. She thought it was strange to see snow and sand meeting, but then it happened every year in her seaside town, no matter how much snow they got. She still could see anyone else around and really she didn’t blame people from staying away. In this weather, the sea was always unpredictable and the beach looked highly uninviting.

She walked on, holding the umbrella in both hands and following the light paw prints left by Bilbo. He was now wrestling with the stick, but when he saw her, he darted back to her side, stick in mouth and jumped up, proudly showing her he had won the game. Laughing, Casey took it from him and threw it again. He raced after it, kicking up some sand in his wake and barking again. She watched him tumble on top of the drift wood and a large wave smack into him.

‘Bilbo!’ she cried out and rushed over to the spot he had been in.

The wave rolled back, dragging sand and the little dog with it. Casey dropped the umbrella and let out a scream. From somewhere inside the wave, she thought she head Bilbo yelping. She paused at the frothy edge of another wave and shouted his name again. Everything was yelling at her to step into the sea and searched for her dog, but a slight fear of danger was holding her back. As her eyes searched the now growing waves, she saw a flash Bilbo’s tartan coat.

Calling his name, she hasty walked towards it and saw him struggling in the water. Quickly, she reached out for him as another wave arose and threated them. Bilbo must have known it was her as he renewed his efforts and paddled towards her hand. Casey felt her now wet gloved fingers trying to grab him and finding no hold. Franticly, she tore the gloves off, and scooped Bilbo up. He shook in her arms and licked her face with salty kisses.

The wave broke around her wellies, almost knocking her down and she felt water splashing up her jean covered legs and running down into her long woollen socks. Clutching him tightly, she fought her way out of the sea and up the snow covered sand. Breathing heavily and feeling unable to catch her breath, she fixed her sights on the glowing lit windows of a café on the beach front. Bilbo whimpered and nestled against her.

Casey stumbled up the snow concert ramp, almost falling over, but somehow finding her balance again. She picked up her pace at the top and ran towards the café’s door. Throwing the door opened with her almost frozen fingers she rushed inside and shrieked in a raw voice, ‘My dog almost got swept away! Please, you’ve got to help us!’

The elderly couple behind the counter stared at her then rushed forward. Casey felt the woman tumble Bilbo out of her arms and the man easing Casey into a wooden chair. Suddenly, Casey realised she had been crying, but now because the café was warmer then outside, her tears were falling more freely. She sniffed and tried to compose herself, but couldn’t. Her vision went blurred and her ears seemed to dim all sound. She was aware though of the man quickly walking away, the woman shouting orders, then trying to comfort her and showing her that Bilbo was still alive.

Casey reached out a hand to the dog as she sobbed hard. The woman handed him back, repeatedly telling her that he was okay, ‘a little shocked and exhausted, but he’s okay. See? He’s worrying about you, Dear. It’s okay. You’re all right. Joe? Where are the towels? I’ll get you a cup of tea, Dear. Don’t worry. It’s fine.’

Casey hugged Bilbo and buried her face into his wet and sandy fur as he tried to lick her. The woman had removed his coat and now came back with a towel, which she tried to wrap him in.

‘You should take off your coat,’ the woman spoke, ‘here, have this towel. Joe? Can you bring the tea over?’

Casey did as asked and let her coat fall against the chair. She took up the towel and pressed it to her face and hair. Breathing deeply, she tried to calm herself, but found that panic and fear where still racing around her body. She heard Bilbo yapping and dropped the towel to her lap. The woman was on the floor, scrubbing him dry and the little dog looked over joyed. He turned his face up to Casey, his tongue lolling about, his eyes bright black and his eyes pricked up.

‘There, Dear,’ the woman said to him, picking another towel to wrapped him up in before placing him on Casey’s lap.

The man put a cup of tea beside her elbow and Casey bust into apologies and thanks. The couple waved it all away and encouraged her to drink her tea. With shaking hands, she picked up the cup and took a sip. Bilbo nuzzled into her, pressing his wet nose against her and making soft noises.

‘No more beach for us until spring,’ she told him.

Bilbo barked and Casey placed the cup back down, hugging him tightly.

Cafe

ssw