I walk into the cafe and it’s the usual procedure: I’m looking for the table furthest away from the doors, the loos, the people and the light. I’m ordering a coffee, “in that reddish cup please.”
And then I sit there.
With my coffee.
And the cup.
The cup doesn’t look right. It’s slightly chipped at the rim, and the colour is almost gone from years of machine-washing. It was this cup from which I first tasted the coffee in this cafe, almost three years ago. I’ve always had this one, it’s basically mine and I like the thought of me being responsible for the faded colour and the chipped rim.
Not actually red, the cup, more of a dirty rosé. Pastel-colour. It doesn’t match with the coffee inside. Cups and content should match though, shouldn’t they? (an initial letter rule, maybe, but then again you wouldn’t find a fitting bed to the breakfast in a bed and breakfast, would you?)
How to drink when this colour-clashing composition of cup and coffee comes closer and closer to your face as you raise it to your mouth to take a sip. Maybe that’s why my coffee is already cold. But maybe it is because I’ve been thinking about coloured cups.
My coffee is light brown. Just a tiny bit of coffee, half the cup’s worth milk and then three heaped spoons of sugar. I’m going to die; all my arteries filled with sticky sugar.
The coffee tastes awful.
I should be somewhere else.
At university probably, writing the story my professor has been waiting for forever. But he won’t like it anyway, we’re all a huge disappointment to him; no next Chekhov or Dostoevsky, neither Twain nor Yeats, not even a Wilde or an Austen. We’re all students who missed that one moment right after school, where you realize what you’re meant to be doing with your life. And now we’re all stranded in this creative writing class. Some of us with the eager ambition to make it big, become the greatest writers of our time (not me, I think gladly, I won’t have to deal with the sour feeling of not living up to my dreams later), others doing this for fun, for the ecstatic feeling of being a student, partying all the time, doing drugs, drinking red wine while talking nonsense about sociology and sleeping with as many people as possible (not me either, I don’t have fun being this, and I prefer white wine anyway); and then there are those who just tag along, who do this because it seemed strangely right but don’t really care (yep, that’s me).
I am writing a detective story, and everyday I add a few chapters before erasing them again.
Writer’s block, you’d call it, if I were a writer.
Detective Gordon raised the pint to his mouth. It was a cold and rainy day, typical for the north and David Gordon, private detective, former police officer and a total loser according to his ex-wife was not in his best mood.
He sighed; something was missing, he was missing this one last piece of the puzzle that would answer all remaining questions. Earlier that day he had been fishing a dead girl from the dirty waters of the river Tweed and now he was sitting here in that old pub close to the crime scene, waiting for a call. “You want another one?” Mike, the barman, asked. He was American and came to Scotland a few years ago to re-experience his family´s roots. “Cheers, I gotta head back to the office. Say hello so Missy for me, will ye?”, he said and left. On the way to his apartment, which also served as his office, he had that weird sensation, feeling that he was being followed. He started walking a bit faster. His movements became more hasty and his breath irregular. When he came to a corner he halted abruptly, turning around, his eyes wide open in both fear and exhilaration.
His breathing steadied when he saw a stray cat slowly crawling away. Being at the harbour all morning wading through the putrid water must´ve had some effect on his odour.
As he walked up the steep stairs to his office/apartment his phone rang.
“Gordon”, “Hello David, I got the results you were asking for. The autopsy showed that the girl must´ve been dead at least 24 hours before you found her. No alcohol, no drugs, no violence as far as I can see. Quite unusual for someone to just fall into water and drown without anybody noticing, you know. We`re doing a few more tests here, so maybe we´ll find something, but to me this seems to be no crime, but a tragic accident.”, “Thank you Gray, give me a ring as soon as you’ll find anything else, will you?” ,“Sure do. I take it you think this to be more than an accident?”, “I dunno yet. I got that feeling that we’re missing something, anyway, nothing to be sure yet. Talk to you in a bit.”, “Later, David.”
Gordon fell into his chair. He could have sworn this was something big, something out of the ordinary. But maybe that was just him watching too much CSI.
I am stuck. Stuck in my own story. Nothing ever happens and my protagonists have lost all ambitions.
As I take another face-distorting sip from my sickly sweet coffee, Clarice enters the scene and the cafe. She is wearing her usual onionish layer-composition of various coloured shawls, shirts, skirts and loosely dangling cloths to keep the warmth all to herself. Her hair is cut short and her face is the image of gloominess, apart from her gothic appearance, the depressing chitchats and her bad taste in music she is rather amiable, dinky as she’d call it.
“Coffeeeeee” she begs when she sits down next to me on one of the battered flea market couches. “So I take it you finished your story?”, I ask, feigning interest. Her story is something combining the language of Lovecraft with the other-worldliness of Tolkien and the length of the Bible.
Prince Kalaghhig took his faithful horse and abandoned his past forever. He was leaving behind his home, the castle of Hhoulky, his family and true companions to find his luck in the far away world of Pshaszza where he was expecting to find the powers to rid his folk from the evil forces of the eastern Gordons. “Fare well thee, oh dearest friends. And pray for me, for your hopes shall accompany me on my rapturous adventure and save me from the brutal beasts of disbelief roaring inside my chest.”
“I have thought of a few more obstacles Kalaghhig has to overcome, so I’ll have to write additional chapters”, Clarice says while pouring a huge amount of cinnamon into her coffee that would surely get her delusional again.
I’m returning to my thoughts as Clarice is slowly getting lost in her story, becoming Kalaghhig`s princess and dropping out of reality, caught in a cinnamon cloud wobbling and billowing around her head.
Maybe I should watch more CSI to get some real crimes for Gordon to solve.
For anyone else all this would seem pathetic. It is nothing spectacular, it is more than ordinary, boring even. I am going nowhere, stuck here, in this cafe, in my story, in my life. But for me, it is just that cup of coffee.