I step out into the muggy, salty summer evening and pause. Chickadees flitter in the bushes, a squirrel natters on a high branch, the whoosh of a passing car, and the ever-present, distant siren. Tranquil, for this urban core.
I’m out because I’m brimming with the eager sense of freedom only a writer appreciates: there are worlds to create!
The straps of my backpack cut into my shoulders. A small burden of potential energy that, through my stubbed fingers, reworked into an artistic, kinetic energy. A modern-day writing pad consisting of one part technology, one part magic. The plodding, long-handed script, abandoned years ago for this swifter mind-finger connection. Oh without this machine, so behind I’d be.
A brief stroll past fragrant, teeming cookeries and there it is, the café. A tiny mite, saturated with fresh-cut beans, lying at the crossroads of beach and urbanity. Always brimming with first meetings, outcasts, in-their-own-world lovers, stoic observers of life, self-disposed philosophers, jittery, babbling students, the subtly unhinged, the obviously unhinged. All attracted by the stern kick of caffeine, and that unknowable, undeniable want of communal intimacy.
Two measurements signify the coffee shop seating queue: a chilled, rainy night, I’m quickly seated; a kind summer evening and I linger for an opening. The latter it is, so patience I retrieve from my back pocket.
Into the din to find I’ve good timing, the current occupant readies to vacate the corner bench. The one with a view to the entire shop so I may, in peace write, and in curiosity, observe.
A few moments and laptop powered, fingers stretched, coffee steaming. Ready. Ready.
Before I continue I must note there are certain prescribed norms a coffeehouse writer must uphold! For instance, a writer bedecked in Brook Brother’s? The Victorian essayist perhaps, or its modern equivalent, the writer in attendance at his own funeral? Otherwise, the reputable, caffeine-driven writer is without fail a disheveled one. Like wearing glasses bestows intelligence, there is a certain flavour in being unkempt; how it lends a visage of absent-mindedness, and presumed brilliance! My preferred façade is one of ripped jeans and a plain, wrinkled shirt. Clean though. While it could be said, in such an establishment, there are many who ignore the societal boundaries of hygiene. Nonetheless, I prefer to keep offence within the bounds of my prose.
Today my focus is on a few onerous scenes of a dramatic screenplay. A few weeks’ work keeping me from forward progression; and I admit, frustration has crept into my usually joyous toiling’s. A particular character has not been agreeable with the plotting; thus, somebody needs to find a kind death, but they are far too much beloved for such drastic measures. This is the writer’s quandary, how to bypass the obstinate ego, and find the better path to the finishing period.
Ah. A few seats away a well-groomed man waits. The pensive body language, darting eyes, slight perspiration on the forehead. Clear signs of a first meeting of the on-line dater. Who is she, or he, to be? Mind you, there is an equally nervous woman waffling just outside the door. I smile to think she may have seen him first and is reconsidering. No, she takes a breath and enters. Wavering just inside the door, scanning the café.
I love this part. Oh the chills each time their eyes meet. What could be, in this moment, transpiring under those skittish countenances? The man stands as she approaches. A greeting. An offer to buy a coffee, a polite refusal, and they sit. That pause as they sit, to this detached observer, signifies so much. If they immediately begin to prattle, looking everywhere but at each other; while it may simply be nerves, more than likely it’s a fatal lack of suitable chemistry. If they sit in silence, eyes locked? I’ll wager a marriage will ensue.
I go on about my writing. Yet I admit, tonight I will also have such a ‘first meeting’. We met on-line as well. Chatted happily on the phone a few times. Her profile picture is of a woman of Spanish decent, though her accent does not match. Suppose I’ll soon find out why.
The other couple has cleared the awkward moments and are chatting quite comfortably. As my palms begin to sweat. Not sure why I worry really, the worse that could happen is we go our merry way.
I turn my focus to a particular twisting line of dialogue to edit. Motivation. Gotta find the motivation for the speaker. In this case a grieving man who can’t open his heart to a woman he’s met. He frolics about the bush on all topics, weather, sporting, government news. All but the truth of how he feels: broken-hearted, in dire need of affection and shouldered conversation. ‘Write what you know’ as they say.
I’m staring off into space, as I often do. Must look like a lunatic, sitting still, staring off. One of my writing tools that clears my ears of sound, my mind of thought, my eyes of sight. I imagine a Buddhist would say: ‘open the door to let your mind wander out, and what you need shall wonder in.’
My trance breaks at the sight of a familiar, raven-haired goddess pausing at the entrance, surveying the room. It’s a gift to see her first. To witness the beauty that is vulnerability wrapped in her expectancy. Before that first light of recognition, and followed by it’s darker, less attractive twin, judgment.
An abrupt rise of adrenaline, my nerves heap; a flux of fret (will I like her?) and self-torment (will she like me?).
As the café, its smells, patrons, and chatter tumble away, the light changes as she sedately turns and recognizes me. Did someone sigh?
As she approaches I plummet into those mystifying, chocolate eyes. Her sensuous mouth forms my name, shattering the silence. Then what was first an inkling, blooms into full knowledge that something wonderful is about to occur.