Monday, January 19, 2015

One October Evening

Three young men strode into a coffee shop one late afternoon in October. That is, if one would call it late afternoon. It was rather that time of day right after most working people have returned home and just finished their suppers. I suppose that remains a vague statement…

… It was nearly seven P.M. …

And I suppose that would be early evening, not late afternoon at all. Really the time of day, or rather time of night, is of no consequence. The time does not dictate these young men’s actions any more than what time of year it was. But as coincidence would have it, it was an October evening, and for that I am thankful. Really for no other reason than because is my favorite month. I like the idea of it being an October evening in which these gentlemen were strolling. Not merely strolling for the sake of strolling, but strolling with a purpose and destination. Fortunately for my sake, it really was an October evening. Not a late afternoon like I said previously, but rather, an October evening.

These three gentleman could not have been more different from one another. As the trio approached the coffee shop and their faces were illuminated by the welcoming lights within, one of them stood aside, opened the door, and held it wide for the other two to enter before doing so himself. When they’d all regrouped within the shop, they turned once again to their conversation from outside, this time with their features and expressions easily seen in the warm lighting of the establishment.

“If you give me your order, Cillian, I can grab your drink while you pick us a nice table,” the shortest in the group said. He was thin, dark haired, and shared that look all Oriental people share. He pulled his wallet from his jacket’s breast pocket and flipped through the bills which were neatly folded therein.

Cillian smiled. His face was thin but recognizably handsome and he wore a pair of small, but thick rimmed glasses which gave him the appearance of scholarly wisdom. His hair was messy, but somehow with intent. “Thank you, Jules,” he said, addressing the other. “I’ll have a peppermint mocha, with soy milk, please. And I’ll leave the size to your generosity.”

Jules nodded. He said: “Grab a couple extra chairs for the others if you can. Did they mention if they’d be here at the usual time?”

“Yeah, they’ll be through with work around seven and should be here promptly thereafter,” Cillian replied. Then he turned and began weaving his way through the coffee shop to find a table to claim for their company.

Jules ordered their coffees and waited for the third member of their group to purchase his as well, before the two of them followed after their companion. Cillian had chosen a table in the back of the shop. In truth, it was a booth, not a mere table, and so he hadn’t had to trouble with collecting extra chairs at all. Most would probably assume he’d just grabbed the first vacant place he’d come across, but Cillian is a very clever fellow, and one who often hates to make a scene. He would have thought through the ridiculousness of dragging chairs to a table they were not meant to be and the incredulous looks he would have received in the process. Quite obviously there had been a number of reasons he’d chosen the booth. None of which the other two companions were privy to, but that hardly mattered, as they more than likely didn’t really care.

“Your coffee, Sir,” Jules announced as he placed the steaming mug before Cillian. The latter gentleman blew the steam from the mug carefully before thanking Jules again for the drink. The other two claimed their places at the booth by sliding into them and making themselves comfortable. “I love the foam here, probably the best latte foam around,” the third member of their group stated. He tucked a long strand of blonde hair behind his ear and lifted the mug to his lips. He took a long slurp before returning the beverage safely to the table’s surface. His face was less thin than those of the other two, but no less handsome. It was framed by his long blonde hair which hung past his ears, but not quite to his shoulders. He grinned as Jules flicked the side of his own mug causing the surface of his drink to quiver and ripple.

“Billy,” Jules responded, “foam is foam. I cannot imagine the foam differs too much from shop to shop. But then I haven’t ever given it much thought. I’ll have to pay closer attention next time I order a latte, wherever I stop.”

These three were students and scholars, and they spoke together, discussing their time at their respective schools. Cillian, a poet and aspiring author; Jules, a business investor who planned to make his fortune through stock market wizardry; and Billy, a scientist and biologist. It was here, in this booth, on this October evening, under the dull and flickering overhead light that the three of them sat, speaking of classes and professors and studying. And it was here that two ragged working men found them. Despite their vast difference in outward appearance, the three already seated at the booth rose to shake hands, pat backs, and share in brotherly embraces as they all greeted one another.

The two young men who joined them were of the same relative age as the rest in the group. One was tall, the other short. The taller one was red-headed and gaunt and pale. He wore small, thin-rimmed glasses on his thin and boyish face. The shorter was dark-haired, and hairy indeed. His long brown hair curled past his shoulders and his face was unshaved. He was the most robust of the group and the noisiest, laughing raucously whenever a joke was made. Both of the newcomers were dressed shoddily in work clothes which were worn and dirty.

“When you’ve finished making a scene and laughing that hideous laugh, Ewan, feel free to take a seat,” the taller of the duo stated facetiously. “I’d rather not stand all night, and I’m waiting on you.”

“Well, excuse me, princess!” Ewan retorted jokingly. “Please, excuse my poor manners. The lady should always take her seat before the gentleman. After you, Basil.” He smiled sweetly and gestured for the tall fellow to sit in the booth. Basil shook his head and made a sour expression before muttering to himself and sliding into the booth. Ewan took his seat as well.

These fellows sat in their booth for a couple hours, talking and laughing. They pulled notebooks from bags they’d brought with them and shared their writing and drawings, their work stories and life struggles. Everyone was entitled to his opinion, and all listened until he was through. They encouraged one another. They laughed at the foolishness of each other. They discussed topics logically and freely. Five men of different heights, different lifestyles, different hopes and different dreams; bonded by their friendship, their creativity, and their mutual respect for free thought and strong opinion.

Eventually, Ewan pulled back his jacket sleeve to peer at his wrist watch. As if it was a signal, the rest did the same. “Well, it’s about time for me to head home,” Ewan announced to the group. He looked sadly into his coffee mug, the contents long drained.

“I have an exam tomorrow,” Billy said, “I should get home too.”

The rest agreed and each rose from the booth, leaving his coffee mug on the table to be cleared by the shop staff. “Well, I shall see you gents again next week.” Cillian said, pulling his jacket on as he stepped towards the door.

“Next week,” Jules agreed and he held the door open for his companions to file through.

Outside in the October evening air, the friends exchanged handshakes and hugs, except for Ewan, who ignored all attempts to shake his hand and instead wrapped each of his friends in a tight embrace. A few final words were spoken among the young men and then they each finally left to go each his own way.

October evenings where meant to be spent like that, I believe. With friends, with coffee, all armed with open minds and creative thoughts. But then again… I like that sort of thing.

And October has always been my favorite month.

1 comment:

  1. Real life is a real muse. :-) I like this story - makes me want more.