There is nothing in the back of this cafe. It sits right on the margin between the edge of the world and infinite possibilities.Gloria Naylor, Bailey’s Café
The Sad Cafe V
A Love Story by Holly Hunter and Hyperion Sturm
Incantations By Holly Hunter When all that I want is so far away and all that is left is solitude, I chant your name through warm currents of breath or sharp ice shadows of entities. I’ve etched my likeness into the stars a dreamer in fields of flowers a bouquet of affection fragile jonquils pressed against a heart. Tethered to cloud banks of silvery sleep we meet in fantasies and the sweetness of a lover’s suffering
The Sad Cafe seemed to show its age. The awning was dulled by the accumulation of time and the brass handle no longer glittered in the light cast by the streetlamps. Inside, the crowd was different; even the patrons’ clothes were more casual than before. David could see his reserved place in the corner where he and Renate had sat that first night at the Sad Cafe and many more nights after.
Like his faded memories, the table was empty, hidden in the shadows to shield lovers and loneliness from the pain of discovery. David liked that he could be alone to think about what comes next.
The Head Waiter recognized him and ushered him to his seat. David sat on the booth seat, back to the wall. Renate could show her back to the crowd, and he would see every tiny nuance of movement and catalog the people that came in and left, keeping Renate safe from any rudeness that might accompany a guest with too much alcohol and an ill temper. Ah, this is Paris. I forget where I am sometimes.
“Have you seen Mademoiselle Renate,” David asked.
Ever discrete and careful not to show his understanding of the disappointment he must deliver, The waiter said, “I will check if she left a message.” He knew the message already given to him three days ago by phone. Renate had come months earlier and left a package to deliver if David showed up. Mademoiselle need not have paid him the 100 Euros to ensure David got the box, the message, or his dedication. She was a beautiful woman with such a poignant grace. Her face and the elegant way mademoiselle stood before him was betrayed by a pain reflected in her eyes he could only guess about. Yes, he would do what she asked.
The waiter returned as the jazz singer tuned up her vocal cords to the worn piano. Her lyrical message told the story of when love comes to town, and how her heart swoons to the swirling currents of desire.
“Sir, I’m sorry. Mademoiselle cannot be here tonight. She sends her regrets and asks that you enjoy the evening so you can tell her about it when you meet again.”
The crush of disappointment gripped David as he nodded, unable to speak. The staff swooped in and set his pre-ordered meal minus the portion reserved for mademoiselle. A delightful young lady stepped up next to David and brushed his shoulder with a supple hip as she bent over the table to light the candle. She turned and smiled, her glance an open door. David caught his voice and turned back to the waiter and listened as the waiter wished his patron a good appetite, and could he be of any further service.
“Yes, did mademoiselle say where she was?”
There was a pause as if a secret password were uttered that triggered a programmed response.
“London,” was all he told David as he handed him a handwritten note. He looked down and studied it. There was an address to a hotel in London. Below, he read, Come to me if you can. It was signed in Renate’s decorative signature.
As he looked down to put the note in his pocket, he noticed a flask on the seat. It had slid down to the back of the cushion. He picks it up. Where had he seen this kind of flask before? Was it the girl who lit the candle? That was why she nudged me. She placed it here for me to find. David slipped it into his suit coat pocket. He’d look at it later. Such passing of information was not uncommon in his line of work. Nothing happened by accident, and contacts were always strangers to each other. David maintained a spider web of secrecy, the talisman of hidden intent, protected from nefarious governments and dark industry’s ongoing probes.
The meal was exquisite, as usual. Age and experience had perfected the chef’s craft. David paid and left a tip that would ensure further loyalty. As he listened to his steps echo off the walls of silent shops and the upstairs apartments, mixed with the far off susurrations of traffic and nightlife, David worked the plan to go to London in his head. Yes, the sooner, the better. He would call and leave a message at the front desk of the hotel. “Be there, soonest, David.