It’s turned half past, so it looks like he’s not coming in again. I’ve got to stop calling him ‘him’. He must have a name. Would I qualify as a bone fide stalker if I tried to find it out? He sometimes pays for his breakfast by Visa. Maybe I could trace his name that way. And his address. And phone number. Oh my God, this is getting close to stalking! Better rein it in a bit, don’t you think? Let’s just make it simple. If he comes back in anytime soon, then I’ll ask him for a date. If not, then I’ll just chalk it up as a missed chance and move on. There’s bound to be someone else out there, “More fish in the sea”, as they say. Mind you, ‘they’ don’t half talk a lot of rubbish sometimes.
I told Emma today. Well, sort of. We were chatting as we were cleaning up, and I asked if she’d noticed that he hadn’t been in again. She said that I’d mentioned twenty-six a lot this week, and did I fancy him or something? Before I could think of a reasonable denial the colour of my face had given me away. I couldn’t even look at her. She screamed and laughed at the same time, throwing her arms around me.
You won’t be surprised to hear that we went for a glass of wine after we finished our shift. Actually, it ended up being a couple of bottles, lots of stories that neither of us would’ve told our mothers, and a taxi home, but it was worth it. It’d been a long shift for both of us, and it’d been ages since we’d been out. And sometimes the unplanned adventures are the best, don’t you think?
After not seeing him all week, I’d figured that he’d be missing on Friday too. I was half expecting him to be back next week, and if I were to make a move, then it would be on Monday. That was assuming that he would ever come back, that he hadn’t simply got a new job, or decided to eat breakfast before he came out. At least that would work out cheaper for him. The possibilities were endless, and I worked my way through most of them as I half–heartedly served the first few customers of the day.
So it was a bit of a shock when he calmly walked in and sat at table twenty-six, in the window, facing onto the street. Just as if he’d never been away.
I was already moving towards him with the coffee pot when Emma came running up to me. Bless her, she couldn’t wait to push me in his direction. She was grinning from ear to ear as she whispered, “Go get him, girl”. And right then I knew that I would. This was my turn, my time to finally get what I wanted. And what I wanted right now was the guy at table twenty-six.
He looked up as I approached and flashed me one of his beautiful smiles. I smiled back and began to pour him a coffee, anything to avoid eye contact. I didn’t want to see his reaction to my nervously shaking hand.
“Welcome back, we’ve missed you”. Nice start. My voice had held, he’d never know that my heart was pounding fit to burst out of my chest. I knew that if I didn’t say something now, right now before he’d even got a chance to say Hello, then I’d bottle it.
I leaned in a little so that I could speak more softly.
“Listen, I don’t suppose you’d like to go for a drink sometime? With me, I mean. Maybe tonight?”
Done it. I’d finally done it. I didn’t need to turn around to know that Emma was watching every move I made, trying to work out if I’d asked him or not. In her place, I’d be doing exactly the same.
“Well I’d love to, but I can’t tonight. I’ve got to take my wife to some stupid bloody opera. I’ve had a stinker of a cold all week, I was hoping that it might get me out of it. No such luck. I’m a lot better today, so she took great delight in telling me that if I’m fit for work, I’m fit for the opera. But maybe one night next week? She usually goes to her sister’s on Tuesdays, how about then?”
I looked up straight into his eyes. And I saw that behind that amazing, film-star smile was just another leering letch.
“Oh. Never mind, it was stupid of me. Forget it”. I tried to show as little emotion as possible but it was obvious to both of us that I was stumbling over my words as they all seemed to rush out at once.
“Can I take your order, sir”?
Copyright Shaun Finnie 2015