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Half Hour Cafe
11:02 AM: There’s an old man staring off into the distance sitting next to me with a face of defeat. I imagine he fought in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Post traumatic stress disorder. The café is small and has the smell of the city pounding through the air vents and its being circulated by an ancient rusty fan. Management is probably falling short of making enough profit to properly update the temperature regulation system. The café workers look like dead men walking, wiping down counters and quietly serving food with such a stern look on their face. Underpaid and unmotivated.
11:04 AM: A woman with her two kids is sitting in the corner with an aroma of exhaustion protruding from every pour in her being. Her name is Rose, maybe, that’s what I think her name would be. Married four times. She stares at the air, which to her is an angry dragon, throwing its hot, humid breath into every corner of the area. Every time the back door is opened the rancid smell of rotting food flows in from the dumpsters, the kind of smell that runs through your nose into your mouth. Next to a stack of napkins on the counter is a vase with fresh cut flowers elegantly bathing in brown water that has particles of leaves and dirt floating in it. They smell pleasant and remind me of spring as a café worker lifts them up to robotically wipe the counter underneath the vase. When he puts it down a pedal falls to the ground and is blown across the floor from a random draft of which I cannot explain the origin.
11:05 AM: A bald, porky man enters the café, with pants that are entirely too small for his bulging planet of a stomach, leaving the door open for a strange length of time. It was this observation that led me to notice a window open while the air conditioner as been running for awhile. That’s not only a general waste of energy, but also a slap in the face of the poor Chinese children who undoubtedly constructed the cheap, plastic exterior shell that is riddled with chips and cracks. I fear a breeze will make it fall, landing directly on the table of the woman with the two screaming children. I will not warn them of this possibility; damage would be minimal. Would amuse me.
11:08 AM: My club sandwich has arrived on a glass plate, overly decorated with green leafy garnish that I immediately push to the side. The bread is fresh and the meat seems to be quality. The first adventurous bite into it was both inviting and distressing. Thirsty.
11:09 AM: I ask the café worker that delivered my sandwich for a drink of iced tea. His facial response was full of restrained annoyance masked by a molded smile that I generally give less value than the dead flies hanging pathetically from a fly strip I see hanging from the ceiling through a tiny window back into the well lit, but under equipped cooking area. My beverage appears with a red straw that is to short for the glass it sits in. The ice cubes were impressive, perfectly cubed together with a layer of frost upon the top, seeming to be chatting about snow, polar bears, and snowboarding. The iced tea was indeed iced, with a straw that seemed to fit the glass perfectly. Liquid refreshment considerably refreshing. I will consider venturing into the sandwich desert once again.
11:15 AM: The club sandwich is half done. I don’t want to finish it yet because I cannot locate a trash receptacle in my direct field of vision or peripheral to dispose of the paper wrapper. I notice one of the woman’s children struggling to push a tray up on to the counter full of half finished food and wadded up napkins, probably full of mucus and malaria. Kids have that, right. A café worker retrieves it and disposes of its contents into a trash can in the kitchen. Problem solved and crisis averted. Though the café worker may have malaria. I will not warn him of this possibility. Damage would be minimal, besides him having malaria.
11:16 AM: The old man sitting next to me has fallen asleep and has possibly died. If he has I’m happy to report he went peacefully without a struggle of pain. The article in the newspaper tomorrow will include his many counts military heroism that I have generously created about him, and will inform the press of. My name will appear in said article as both the discoverer of his death and possibly the lead suspect in his untimely murder, for he is no longer giving me the feeling of a long time war veteran, but of a famous cobbler with an extensive family tree who were all cobblers. I must have killed him for his millions. Press questions the legitimacy of military history. The old man snorts and shakes his head while simultaneously opening his eyes. Dramatic theory shot down. Disappointed.
11:19 AM: Club sandwich has been destroyed and I know fully what to do with the trash that remains. The child that showed me this was now in tears while his mother wiped food off of his face. I question the purpose of the tears. Napkins don’t generally have a connotation of pain nor discomfort. Further research is required. Google mobile.
11:21 AM: Third iced tea has arrived and certain organs have informed me that this is the last. There is no restroom on the property, which is possibly another sign that this establishment is showing the symptoms of a disease called American economy-titis. I recall another business that encourages strangers to relieve themselves in their building near by. Time to leave.
11:25 AM: Not time to leave. Cute girl as entered the café. My decision to stay gives no consideration to the status of my bladder. I suck more ice tea through the straw and down my gullet without noticing, all attention being paid to her. She sits diagonal to the obese man, surprisingly close. I question her motive for this for he is repulsive. She pulls out a book and begins to read. Motive question now answered. The lighting near me and most of the café was poor and the porky fellow had sat near the window, which produced a nice array of natural sunlight which made reading the text a delight. Her hair is rather flowing and seems fluffy. An odd urge to pet her head over takes me. She is not a dog. She flips a page once every fifty seconds or so. She seems very interested in the reading, which is certainly not of obligation. The book is fiction. The initials “C.R.” are tattooed on her wrist. Clara is her name I have decided. The necklaces she wears are overly long, but the combination of them with the multiple bracelets and light scarf is seemingly aesthetic. She throws a slight smirk. The plot of the story must be comical or she is satisfied with one of its outcomes. The book is written by a well known author. Her shirt fits lightly in contrast to rather tight jeans above worn converse. I like.
11:25 AM: I notice a newspaper on a table directly next to Clara. This is a perfect opportunity to move closer without seeming like a pedophile. I consider the fact that I have been staring at her. This is pedophile-ish. But, I am not. I have decided that I have saved her life.
11:28 I notice a man walking by the café through the window. I presume he will double back when he realizes he needs some lunch. The pessimistic café workers will annoy him when he politely orders a club sandwich, chicken noodle soup, and coffee. He will pull out a gun. This is a stick up. He will demand money from the café worker. Not a good move. There is many witnesses, the business is economically failing and has no money, the escape route either lands you in the middle of a crowded street or into a dumpster with rotting lettuce. So this is a crime of passion. The café worker obeys the demand for the cash and he hands it over. He thinks he’s in the clear but he is far from it. From the kitchen the owner appears toting a 12 gauge shotgun he purchased to protect his establishment from bandits such as the one who has decided to become a robber at this moment. Standoff. Clara is at her table frozen in fear. Her book is still open in her hands and she stares at the situation. The chicken noodle man moves backwards shouting randomly to simply distract the owner of the café. He senses the café owner has no intention of pulling the trigger. But, to protect is intuition he grasps Clara on the arm and pulls her in front of his body, with his gun aiming around her at the owner. If the owner shoots he will hit her and not him. What the bandit doesn’t understand is that I am going to marry Clara. Our many, many, many children will be well read and will have good café choosing skills. If he uses her as a human shield and this café owner goes off on a tangent with his big gun, we will never have these kids. Little does he know one of our kids will go on to become a world famous doctor, who develops a cure for many diseases plaguing the world, including malaria, which one of the kids of the woman possibly has and the café worker who threw his trash away. After this child of ours is finished with this accomplishment he enters politics and uses both of these fields to find a cure for American economy-titis. Businesses in America, much like this café can afford top notch security systems to prevent situations just like this. The stakes are grave so I take action. I see a bold look in the café workers eyes. I see the muscles in the finger on the trigger tense and before they have enough force to pull the trigger I jump over the counter and in mid air, kick the weapon out of his hands. It flips and turns in the air and before I land I catch it. I turn around and aim at the thief in order to re-establish a powerful vibe. I move toward him and in one knocking blow, the butt of the shotgun strikes him in the temple. He drops his gun. I kick it away and help Clara up off the floor. She smiles at me with a glow in her eyes and we run off into the street to the business with a public bathroom. I notice the man that walked by board a bus. The digital sign on the front of the bus indicating its destination read New York City. He would not be back for is sandwich, soup, and coffee. Dramatic theory shot down. Disappointed.
11:29 AM: I muster up enough courage to go sit closer. My target is the newspaper on the table next to her. I will act as though I just want to read the stock page. I have suddenly become a businessman. I take the flowers sitting on the café’s counter out of the muddy water, shake them off, and advance for the table before a worker notices that I took them. I make it to the table step one. Step two. Act interested in the newspaper. That’s all I came over here for. The date on the newspaper is that of a week ago. Focus, just read it and don’t look at her. She is traced in her book, this I can appreciate for we share a fond love of literature. I can now see the title of the book, The Complete Short Stories of Earnest Hemingway. Perfectly fitting, for he is my favorite author. Hook, line, sinker.
11:30 AM: I take the stolen flowers and move over to her table. I proceed to inquire if the remaining seat is taken. She says no with a smile and I sit. I extend my arm that contained the flowers and said, “These are for you Clara.” She said, “Thanks, I’m Claudia Rose, how sweet.”
11:31 AM: Angry man has entered the café. He is mumbling to himself and sweating profusely. I don’t notice what he is doing for I am focused on the conversation between Claudia and I. I presume he had ordered a club sandwich, chicken noodle soup, and coffee. The café worker that served him was rude I assume, it wouldn’t be uncharacteristic.
11:32 AM: The angry man pulls out a gun and attempts to rob the café. Claudia has an expression of fear on her face and I assure her that everything will be ok. She extends her hand across the table into mine when the man comes over to our table. The owner of the cafe was nervously aiming a shotgun at him. He comes to our table with a stern look and grasps my arm and pulls me in front of him, aiming his gun around me and at the café owner. The café owner thinks he sees the man raise his gun higher in order to shoot so he fires his shotgun. The damage was major, morbid in fact. Still disappointed.