Tuesday, February 9

Crazy and Sexy’s Coffeeshop

IT WAS COLD and one did not want to be outside too long. It was one of those Thursday nights when you do not want to go out, but someone talks you into a pint; ‘Just one pint’; talks you into another and another; then some more; then they cry—‘Let’s go to that bar!’ and you resist, but they insist—‘We’ll get a cab, and just have one’ but you walk and are welcomed with a stiff drink, and another pint to wash it down, and then one to hold, and then things go on and it is late. There was a group of us and we were in good spirits, good enough, walking across the city in staggered groups. W—y and I led the way, laughing over quiet stories from each other. We got to the last bar and said hello to some people we knew, introductions made, catch-ups, nice-to-meet-yous. One of my colleagues had a karaoke set up downstairs, in the basement of this bar where the overwhelmingly pungent fumes of incense stung my eyes. We walked down the narrow stairs. It was small basement, an afterthought, all exposed brick, cool air, with a dilapidated toilet out back where the smell of mould and bleach climbed between the cracks of the magnolia tiles. At first I had been skeptical about joining the microphone festivities, so I kept drinking and, seeing the songs available, was stirred into an uncharacteristic excitement. What if I just sang a song? What harm would there be? Of course my parents would not believe that I had done so, as it was most unlike me, although I was not feeling myself. I considered it further while returning to the pavement for a smoke.
We made eye contact. Crazy. Bolstered by the drink, I did not let my eyes fall, as they are so often inclined to do, but carried on. ‘Let’s go in there,’ she said to her friend, with whom she linked arms. The two girls entered the bar. I spat my rollie out and went back in. They were ordering, my friend talking to them. Nervously, I waited, went back downstairs, reviewed the songs. ‘What you thinking?’ asked my friend. ‘Wanna do Dancing in the Dark with me?’ I asked. ‘Bit of the Boss. I’ll go for it.’ Till this moment I do not know why I sung – as if that were singing – but I did. I suppose, if the mood is right, one will try something they have not tried before. So that was me, taking the microphone from its stand, ready to commit, the audience. It was silly, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it, blushed away, and then spoke to the new girls. Crazy had red hair and the eyes to give her a name. Sexy wore a choker and those things always send me wild, accentuating the neck’s contours as it encompasses alien lengths. Crazy talked about a degree she had, and coffee. Sexy lingered around the microphones. The others sang and danced. I, too, resumed my position with the microphone, pulling poses and chuckling at myself; handed drink after drink. Sexy wrapped herself around me. Her hands were everywhere. Her mouth was at my ear. Crazy offered me a sip of her drink but I did not like the taste too much, and told her so. I ignored Sexy because it seemed appropriate and she clawed more. With the women and the microphone I did not know what I was doing. A couple hours later, the pair of them left and Crazy told me to visit their coffeeshop and gave me the address. I told her I would. Women and coffee. Light my fire.
I went back inside but I was tired. As I went to leave, a friend followed me outside. She told me I did not care about her, told me I felt no feelings. She told me I have no emotions. It was silly. I listened to her and saw her crying drunkenly but felt very little. I behaved as I thought I should behave. ‘Stop crying, please,’ I told her. The men at the table outside were observing and trying to pick her up because that is how men behave sometimes. She kept crying and wiping her eyes. The way eyes are wiped is particularly sweet, I cannot explain why I am fascinated by it. I did not tell her that I was fascinated with it. Indeed it would have been easier to invite her back to mine but I had given that up and she thought that is was still possible. It did not seem possible. The cars came down the street as though it was not gone midnight. Drink had me, yet not as aggressively as it had others. She was breathing heavily with her sobbing, the way children sob. Drunk tears. I asked her to return inside. There were no more good places to get food. Sleep was on my mind. The evening had been too long. I asked her once more to return inside. Feeling slightly inhuman, I took the bed into my arms, a tangled sprawl across its cold sheets.
On Saturday I visited the coffeeshop but it was closed, so I left the capital and waited.
During my Monday lunchtime, I returned to the coffeeshop. Crazy and Sexy were both behind the counter, upon which sat a display of treats, snacks and sandwiches, as well as a sparkling coffee machine, magnetic and powerful. ‘I recognise you. Hello,’ said Crazy. I smiled—‘You told me you made good coffee so I’m here to see for myself.’ We spoke about the evening and the following day. They gave me my coffee on the house. It was strange to see them again; both of them living up to their names. Sexy still wore a choker. Crazy’s red hair was tussled and stuck. Two well-dressed businessmen sat down at a table, otherwise it was empty. We spoke, the three of us, and reminisced. My coffee shook in my hand. I realised that I was not quite so charming or mysterious but I supposed that was to be expected; after all, I am neither. We talked and I finished my coffee. Sexy spoke mostly, as she did she held her hair up behind her head, that most magnificent of poses that highlights the breasts and neck, although my view solely comprised of the latter, and wishing nothing more. ‘This is good coffee.’ I wanted to see them again, both of them, but I dare not say so. ‘You’ll have to come back,’ Crazy said. ‘O, I will,’ I said. Why did I say ‘O’? I could not wait to see them again; besides the attraction, I felt a good feeling toward the strangers, Crazy and Sexy. There was much time to be spent in their company and a warmness passed through me when I thought of them. I wished them a good day and left the shop, the wind whipping me off my feet. I reached for my cigarettes but found nothing. I smiled.

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