Sunday August 7, 2005
He entered through the door to the right of the cash register. There are two doors into the coffee shop, directly across from each other. The right door is closer to the cash register, and he immediately saw that there were five people in line. He hated waiting in lines, so he began to look around the coffee shop for a table to set his stuff upon. The shop was one room with a peninsula counter in the middle jutting from the back of the room to about three quarters of the way to the front glass windows. The floor was wooden and dusty, providing a cozy almost mid-western saloon feel. His eyes traversed the room, no open tables from this vantage point. He shuffled his feet as he walked around to the left side of the peninsula counter. There was an empty table, and its four chairs, in the way back just beside the hallway into the bathroom.
The table had a fake marble top, black with swirls and chaos patterns of white throughout. He pulled out a chair facing the back of the shop and set his backpack upon it. He then turned and looked over his shoulder to see if the line was shorter. It wasn’t. He opened his backpack and took out a few books and a pencil. He then set down in a chair on the other-side of the table, facing the front of the shop. He began to watch the people, their movements and actions. He listened to the cacophony of sound off the white tin ceiling. No single sound could be discerned from the symphony, but the orchestra played on without a conductor. The mixture of clinking glasses, espresso thumping, loud voices and chairs scraping the floors all assaulted his senses and invaded his ability to think. He realized the mistake in coming here this afternoon, nothing would be accomplished, nothing would be made right.
He continued to gaze around the room, and watched as a tall light redhead walked in through the left-side door. She came here everyday about this time, he had forgotten. He shifted in disgust and stared down at his closed books and useless pencil. He could not get any work done; he could not concentrate while she was here. She was his nemesis. She turned and began walking towards him as he moved two of the books aside and opened the red one on the bottom of the pile. She didn’t even look at him as he began to read the words so finely printed across the pages. He tried to not acknowledge her existence. She walked right past the table, talking to someone behind the counter, only adding to the disaster of noise. Then turning just behind she walked into the bathroom hallway and became silent as she went into the bathroom. Maybe today was not the day, maybe she was just running through; maybe she didn’t want to make the already disastrous situation worse. Maybe.
He read the words, over and over again. He could not concentrate. The redhead walked out of the bathroom, crossing is personal space yet again. She headed to the front of the coffee shop. “Leave, leave, leave,” he murmured under his breathe. But no, she edged to the front of the shop. There she stepped over some bags of coffee beans and flipped a switch on the big vacuum-cleaner looking object in the center-front of the shop. Then the humming and whirring began incessantly. He shook his head, knowing that now studying and reading were a lost cause. The coffee roaster will be on for hours, and that red-haired devil will be lifting, pouring, roasting, dumping, and carrying coffee beans all through the room. He accepted defeat for the moment, and stood up. He walked over to wait in line for a cup of coffee. He waited, and waited, tapping his feet to the rhythm of the room. The symphony played on, the conversations hummed, the roaster whirled and shifted, and the chairs scrapped; the room was alive with sound and everything distracting.
He finally got up to order his coffee. “Hi, could I get a cup of house blend for here?”
“Hello, how could I help you?”
“Uh, a cup of house blend for here…” he said half annoyed and half numb.
The small brunette half-smiled, turned and grabbed a cup. She pumped out the coffee into the khaki colored mug. “Room for cream?”
“Here ya go,” she said sliding the mug across the counter with her right hand as she rung up the order with her left. “That’ll be $1.35,” she said with a smirk.
“Price go up?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Fair,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out two bills, and headed them to her.
“This is a five,” she said holding up the five-dollar bill and handing him back the other bill.
“Yeah, thanks, sorry.”
She finished ringing him up, and gave him his change. “Thank you, have a good one.”
He half-heartedly nodded and gave her a tight-lipped smile as he took his change and put it in his pocket. He picked up his mug and walked over to the sugar and cream stand near on the counter. He dumped sugar into his mug while he counted to six. Once done, he stirred the coffee and returned to his seat. He placed the mug on the table and sat down. He began to read from the beginning of the chapter again, reading and reading. The symphony played on around him, as the caffeine heightened his sensitivity but dulled his focus. He finally felt he could concentrate and he drifted into a world solely revolving around the words and pages.
A plate dropped to the floor, meeting its death with a crack and bouncing into shattered pieces. He looked up in shock, only to catch a glimpse of an embarrassed employee quickly bending over. He ran his left hand through his dark brown hair and turned his head back down to the open book. He shuffled the chair back a few inches and leaned forward, looking directly down at the book as it laid flat on the table. He scanned the words, looking for where he left off; he recognized nothing on the page. He flipped back a page he knew he just read, nothing looked familiar; he flipped another page, but again he could not recognize anything stated on the pages. He turned back the pages to the first page of the chapter and placed his pencil in the crease in the book. He calmly closed the book on the pencil, and picked up his mug of cold coffee. He stood up while pushing the chair back with his legs. He turned and walked around the peninsula, past the worker sweeping up broken shards. He walked past the red-haired roaster as she pulled levers and marked a sheet of paper with an illegible scrawl. He walked past the cash register while another customer was served. He pushed the door open with his left hand and entered the noise filled downtown corner, cars driving past with honking horns and screeching brakes. He turned up the street and walked past the sounds and screams, past the annoyances and distractions. He walked for blocks, not noticing any movement but the swirl of his coffee in the bottom of the mug. He heard all the sounds, all the words, all the noise, and he kept walking. Fleeing towards silence.