Wednesday's Words on a Friday
On Wednesdays, assorted people have been taking monthly turns at putting up a selection of six (or twelve) words which is called “Words for Wednesday”.
We have taken over this meme from Delores, who had been having computer problems.
This month the meme continues here, at Drifting Through Life.
Essentially the aim is to encourage us to write.
Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating them with ignore...
Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. We would really like it if as many people as possible joined in with this fun meme. If you are posting on your own blog - let us know so that we can come along and read your masterpiece.
I’m hopeless at poetry so I always do a story.
It’s a fun challenge…why not join in?
This week's words are:
an elderly man with a cane came in to buy a coffee
Here is my story:
The lunch rush was over and there would be few customers between now and 4:30, so I busied myself cleaning the counters and tables, refilling the little baskets that held sugar packets and stirring paddles, and checking the supply of coffee beans. As I was giving the espresso machine a final wipe, an elderly man with a cane came in to buy a coffee.
He seemed inclined to chat, so I let him begin while I restacked the shelf of cups and saucers, then listened more closely as I unwrapped a new box of disposable cups.
He began by saying how much the cafe had changed since he was last here and I asked how long that had been. He thought a while, then said it must be twenty or thirty years, he couldn’t remember exactly. He did know there hadn’t been any fancy espresso machine back then. He remembered a long counter with two big urns, one for tea and one for coffee. Next to them a long tray with a couple of dozen white china cups. Coffee was five cents a cup, sugar was a penny extra. Not too many took the sugar.
I was astonished at hearing this, I knew a little of the café’s history, but this memory the old man was talking about was much further back than twenty or thirty years. I wondered about his identity; who was he? where had he come from? how old was he? And how did he know about the café?
As if reading my mind, he said his name was Gerald Feckler and he’d lived in this area for many years. He thought back to the days when he was a child, when the strip mall was nothing but a field, no shops, no café at all, certainly no road either. I stared in amazement. This mall had been here as long as I could remember and I was forty-five years old. I glanced at the clock to see how much time I had left before the next rush and saw the clock had stopped. I looked to my wristwatch and saw it had stopped too.
Gerald smiled at the quick rush of fear that crossed my face.
“Don’t be worried,” he said. “I’m not here to hurt you, I’ve just popped in for a chat. It gets a bit lonely on the ‘other side’ and I stop in every few decades and have a chat, see how things are going.”
I must have stood there with my mouth open, for he gently pushed my chin up with gnarled old fingers and invited me to sit. “The clock hasn’t really stopped,” he said, “I’ve just slowed the time for a while.”
He confessed that he was in fact, now quite dead and I was speaking with a ghost. “You won’t believe how I died,” he said. “Of all the silly things a man can die from, it was a mosquito bite that got infected. You wouldn’t think such a little thing could kill anyone, but back in those days there wasn’t the ready accessibility to medical help that people enjoy now.”
I still hadn’t said anything; what does one say when suddenly confronted with a coffee drinking ghost who can slow down time? I began right there. "Are you tracking the time, so that I can be ready when the next rush of customers comes in?”
“Yes”, he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time now and I’ve gotten rather good at it.” He smiled and repeated that I had nothing to worry about. “I’ll tell you about the very first café that stood here,” he said. “There was a labour camp way across the field, with men working at the clay pit making bricks to build a house for a wealthy gentleman. We Fecklers lived across the other side of the field and my older brother was one of the brick makers. He’d come home each evening, hungry and exhausted and one day my mother had an idea to set up a hut here, on this very spot, and provide a cup of coffee and a piece of bread to each man at noon. She made enquiries, permission was granted and my father and I built a little freestanding hut one Sunday. We picked this spot because it was within walking distance of a good water well, so there would be plenty of water for the coffee.”
I asked him what year he was talking about, there was an old picture on the wall of a hut that had been rumored to be the first café, it was quite faint an image, but in the corner could easily be seen “Feckler’s Coffee Hut, 1858.
He was surprised to hear this, and asked to see it. “In all the times I’ve popped in here, no other person has ever mentioned it’” he said. I showed it to him and he chuckled softly. “Look at that,” he said, “the lavender bushes aren’t full grown, this must have been only a year after we served the very first cup. The men had to supply their own cups back then, mum didn’t have enough for all the men and didn’t want her good china getting broken anyway.”