Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coffee Shop

He held a steaming white paper cup of hot black coffee in his hands. He held the disposable cup with both hands, cradling it with reverence, taking slow, long sips of the bitter dark liquid. He sipped slowly, tasting the soil where it had grown, his tongue finding remnants from the sweat of campesinos and hot sun and blue skies dotted with light passing clouds. The cup was nestled between his long fingers and wide palms, held steady without its plastic lid so the steam was free to rise for a brief journey. It shot up from the coffee in swirled blasts of continuous vapor, rising, leaping and curling, twisting in on itself for more than half a foot until it drifted and dispersed, transforming itself.
He sat in a short padded leather armchair, the contemporary conservative style of the type that could be found in lawyer’s offices. Its lines were smooth and inoffensive, its simple shape inviting. It had huge overstuffed armrests, providing the place for the man’s elbows to rest while his hands held onto the coffee; steam jumping from the cup, creating ethereal patterns over his face, steaming him with warmth.
His back was facing a large plate glass window that faced a narrow cement patio with a few wrought iron tables and chairs. A few fabric covered umbrellas rattled in the breeze. Just behind him, the window was painted with a semi-opaque image of blue ice cubes falling into a plastic cup that had been painted with a pale white color. The light from the window behind him almost made a silhouette of his shape, though there was light coming from the interior of the coffee shop that gently filled in the dark corners.
The man’s face was old and weathered by time and age. The skin around the edges of his mouth sagged, though he held onto his manly dignity, holding it firmly with both hands, gripping it with his long fingers and wide palms. His eyes were covered in wide dark sunglasses, disguising the places his eyes wandered, though the tilt of his head gave a small indication when he watched a tall blond nurse walk through the front glass door. The skin on his hands and face were pink and though his hair had thinned and turned the color of pure snow, he still had enough to part on the right side and comb over towards the left.
His slender legs were crossed at the ankles and covered in pale blue jeans. Feet hugged in black socks were tucked into brown leather shoes. He wore a pale blue sweater and a white collared shirt that just peaked out over the high neckline of his sweater. There was a belly paunch that was round and full, covered completely in pale blue wool. He checked his watch every so often, keeping both hands on the cup, but turning his wrist up towards his eyes.
Jazz, infused with horns and the low grumbling of a large black man, filled the room with its melody. Steamers from the espresso machine hissed, bringing cold milk into frothy bubbles of foam. There were several circular wooden tables and chairs scattered through the room. Solitary people stared into the glowing screen of their laptops. Next to the man with the sunglasses, a mother sat staring into her illuminated Blackberry while her baby slept in a stroller beside her. Throughout the room, everyone was engaged, enthralled with their own electronics, it was just the old man that sat, holding his coffee with both wide palms, watching as people walked through the door towards the counter and then eventually left out the same door with a drink in their hands.
Old time jazz and blues flowed from the speakers, and the man sat, holding the steaming cup with no lid, holding it with his long weathered fingers and wide, capable palms.

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