“So a coffee, oui?”
“I- Well, yeah, I- uh” strode in with a stammer.
“Come now, mon cher,” she interrupted with a twirl that dissolved, flawlessly, into a half-skip walk behind the coffee counter. “We have…”, her voice trailed off as she scanned around the espresso machine, ice bins, glass and brass coffee pots, lingering for a moment on a almond and dark-chocolate biscotti. “Everything”, she concluded, firmly placing her hands on her hips, which, when held, became distressingly curvaceous.
Here’s another thing about Rebecca – her name is Rebecca, by the way – she must have had some breakthrough in personality, or some kind of oath bound by black seams to dress in clothing, solely, and resolutely mimicking the fashion of 1927 Paris. Just another one of those things about her.
“Black coffee?” dry and shyly shook from my throat.
“Oooh, big, strong man you are.” she scattered with a grin. She pivoted around to the coffee pot, steaming, and halfway through reaching for a cup, she spun around again, gracefully, and asked “You sit?”
“For the-? Oh yeah, I was actually, well, I guess-” I fumbled again.
Here’s another thing about me – my name is Clive, by the way – I’m a fucking idiot.
“You sit.” She determined, returning to her natural state of, like a ballerina, spinning about the coffee bar; her tiny feet pattering and gliding around the non-slip tile that patterned the floor. She lightly bounced her hips from side to side, subconsciously swinging to the music that lazily filled the comfortably abandoned coffee shop; though the sidewalk outside surely roared, the coffee shop I’d grow to call Café Prétentieux had drifted from the world so I could relish in the moment. And how entranced I was. Turning around, still, with complete grace, she rested the mock-china cup on a saucer, and threaded a polished, engraved spoon through the handle. Without making eye contact, her brown heart-breakers locked on the coffee as to ensure it didn’t spill over the rim. As if teasing me, with quite a bit of snarky melodrama she meticulously rested, and slid the coffee to me across the counter.
We both held still, eyes locked on the coffee swaying back and forth, morphing and slicing reflections from the light above: until she spoke again. “Anything else?”
“Oh, no, thank you though. That ought’a be just fine.” I finally managed to speak without and back-stabs from the stammer-tongue.
“Two thirty-three, little one” snuck from the satisfied and snug smile that seemed to break, and stay on her face when experiencing human contact.
“That I can do,” I began, tapping both hands on their respective pants pockets, then like a game of paddy-cake flipping to tap the back pockets as well: back right, just like always. The little shit we should’ve figured out about ourselves by now, but still haven’t. I flipped open my wallet as if it were the notepad of a private detective portrayed by a hammy actor on a t.v movie cop-drama. Immediate regret. Rebecca had the faintest puff of laughter shoot from her nose, but I could tell from the widening of her eyes that she had some teasing tucked away. I handed her my debit card – or, well – I tried to hand it to her. She Just remained still, leaning lightly, but curiously over the counter-top; perching on her arms holding the edge, inside elbows flashing me, her upper arms holstering her unexposed cleavage together.
A silent exchange.
“Five dollar minimum for plastic” she coyly stated, the music return to her hips while she now locked eyes with mine, challenging me to something I had probably never heard of. Without reply, I looked to the pastry display case that Rebecca had battled temptation with a few moments before. The almond and dark-chocolate biscotti was the only thing I could see. She recognized my gaze, and slowly slid to her left to open the pastry case. Our eyes locked again as she delicately hovered her hand over the various treats commonplace to a local, floating coffee shop. Her hand held fast over the toasted sweetbread, with a feigned fear, but obvious confidence.
She clutched the biscotti, and rested it on a mock-china plate with faint chippings on the painted brim. Now, much more easily and carelessly, she slid the plate across the counter.
“Five twenty-two.” She whistled, her lips puckering as to fight the smile. Then, snitching the card from my hand, and sliding it as if automatic, mechanic, developed and perfected by muscle memory, she cashed me out.
A moment passed.
The receipt was fed from the machine with a silent hum, then, with one hand, she wrapped the paper around the card, and with it pinched like a cigarette between her fingers, she extended it back to me. But before I could reach to take it back, she snatched it back to her chest, slowly raised it to her lips, and playfully kissed the card. Then with immense perkiness, and her grin – God, that fucking grin of hers – she handed it back to me. I tucked it in my shirt chest pocket, gathered my coffee and biscotti, then held for a moment hoping for anything. A “Goodbye”, an “Enjoy”, anything she would give me to hold onto in my ears.
Then, before directly returning to her notebook, she pivoted down her forehead, ever so slightly as to turn from cute, to cutely menacing, and she mocked:
“Have a nice day, plastic boy.”