Vignettes — #20
Moses, forty-five, dressed in neat, casual, dark slacks and a light-blue open shirt, walks through the café to the patio at the back. He stops at the table he usually sits at, the one in the corner, against the railing, overlooking the wooded creek below.
He feels put out. He has sat here every late afternoon for weeks, except on weekends. He looks around. There are seven other unoccupied tables. Why this one?
“I made sure no-one would sit here.”
Moses swings around on his heels. It’s Yvette. He knows her name because of her nametag.
“Oh,” is all he can manage at first. Then, “Thanks.” He sits down.
“Double espresso with hot water on the side coming up. And a glass of sparkling water with lemon?” She smiles down at him.
He watches her disappear into the café, then looks down to the creek. A pair of wagtails are chasing each other in and out of the foliage. A kookaburra calls in the distance and is answered by the staccato laugh of two or three others.
“Here you are then.”
He turns his attention back to the table, as Yvette arranges the drinks. She hesitates then says, “You come here every day at this time and always sit here. Is there a special reason?”
Moses doesn’t answer immediately and Yvette says, “Sorry, I’m being nosey.”
She is just turning away when Moses reaches out and grabs her by the wrist. “No, it’s a reasonable question.” He lets her go; she looks slightly shocked at his abrupt action.
Moses takes a breath and looks down at the creek, then back at Yvette. “You know the saying, ‘any excuse will do if you need an excuse’?”
Yvette shakes her head.
“Well, my excuse is that from here I can see the birds down there and I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the kingfishers I’ve heard are around. But, really, I come and sit here so …” He looks down at his coffee and turns the cup on its saucer. Looking back up at Yvette, he continues awkwardly, “I sit here and watch you as you do your work. There’s … you have sadness around your eyes and I …”