people watching (2010)
He arrives on the scene drunk. His hair disheveled, short, curly, salt, pepper. His lips the size of collagen implants. He wears a jean jacket with his shirt untucked and unbuttoned down to his navel. He grabs a seat in front of a man who is reading a book and smoking a cigarette and wipes the wet table with his hands. The man with the book gives him change to buy a coffee. He takes a puff of his cigarette, looks around then goes back to reading his book. He wears a green ring on his little finger. He has ears the size of an elephant’s. The drunk man stumbles into the café and buys a coffee, then comes back with a cocktail napkin and starts to wipe the table again. He spills water in the ashtray, on the man’s cigarette. The cigarette is soaked. The table is soaked. The napkin, too, is soaked. The drunk man keeps wiping the table with his hand. The other man gives him a crossword puzzle and a pen. They both light a dry cigarette and drink their black coffees. The drunk man answers a crossword clue, osier, and passes it on to the man with the book.
They must be brothers for their features are too similar. One reads The Education of Henry Adams; the other looks like he spent the night in a cardboard box. They take turns filling in the crossword puzzle. Very little words are exchanged except those on the page.
I’d like to say that I remember what happens next but the year was 2010 and the entry ends there. However, I wouldn’t have remembered this scene at all had I not written it down. I love that about writing. That I can travel back to a day in the spring of 2010, to that Second Cup café on Mont Royal, and spy on a couple of strangers at the next table over. Writing is my time machine. A pen and notebook, my constant companions.