Thursday, January 26, 2023

4197 : Arabian Nights

(Excerpted from a piece of fiction)

Traffic screeching. The absence of birds. From my perch on the bar stool, everything is like a silent movie. The lighting here is horrendous. The jazz playing is god awful. This is the kind of place that paid for the items of ambience, never for the design.   

The bar is manned by a middle-aged woman. Bucking the trend, she is not edgy at all. Nice and easy to the point of being condescending. She is chatting up customers. I have some shitty liquid in the glass, and I continue to stare out into the city. 

At some point she says, "This view numbs you from the city, right?". I know she is talking to me. 

"We are all poets here, looks like."  I genuinely warm up to her and chirpily say. 

She gleams, what looks like a heartfelt laugh. She did not expect that out of place comment, and she sees the compliment hidden in there. "Yes, we are, arent we?  Trapped in time, hoping this moment can give us the escape velocity."

She is a complete stranger to me. I give her a knowing smile. Surreptitiously ask - "Can you smuggle me a double espresso shot?". I cannot see any coffee machine, so I know she will have to conjure the drink from thin air.

She winks, the happy gesture of an accomplice. Minutes pass, maybe 10. "Here you go, my friend, Colombian dark. I am sure it will soothe your soul. This one is on me."

My first sip, and its ethereal. Loosens my tongue. "This used to be my city. I knew it intimately. The innards sing to me."

She waits for a few seconds, and then asks, "You no longer live here I presume? Work made you move?"

I consider her. What should I tell her? What is a good answer to give her? With no additional context, I mouth, "She still lives here somewhere very closeby. I have not seen her in months. I hope to accidentally bump into her at either a mall or at the airport.", then to lighten it up I add, "Like in our movies, maybe winning again."

She laughs, still involved in our chat, "You look too old for being a teenager. ". Winks. Sizes me up and adds in a conspiratorial whisper, "At this altar, new beginnings occur every night. 1001 nights. Now lets find you your Scheherazade."

Embarrassed - I smile into my coffee. Not a Scheherazade, though, I exactly know what I need - a lamp, a genie and one bloody wish. That's it.

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