I decided to ressurect a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote last year. Some thought it was not finished. Some did.
Regardless, the words, the images began to reach out to me and begged me to be out there. So for awhile, until I decide what to do with this and other bits of fiction, I will share it here.
I hope you enjoy. I hope you comment. I til I decide what to dohope you share.
I think we all find ourselves, somewhere waiting. Maybe it is where we find ourselves.
Maybe it was the hulking brick shells of old buildings dwarfing the café, or the unkempt trees that rather than filling the air with fresh joy and movement seemed to droop heavily and thicken the air at the base of each. Even the patrons of Renny’s Imperial seemed to sit heavy quiet at cluttered counters or motionless and isolated in the frayed booths.
In a time of hope, just blocks away from light, Renny’s was a dark café.
I just wanted coffee. Some quiet, some time to stir the brew until it was cool, swallow and repeat. I wanted time. I wanted time to think about the time I had lost.
Every time I thought about waiting, I remembered Germany. A small local train waiting room open to the weather. Not a room really but a bench beneath an overhang where two train lines crossed. It was a transfer point and it was hard to leave the warmth of the first train to wait for the next.
It was very white, everything heavy with late winter snow. The scene in my mind was devoid of any color just white and cold and silent empty and with the exception one black American soldier who smoked on the far bench on the opposite side of the tracks. He just grunted an acknowledgement once. He must of thought I was German and he had nothing to say.
His breath, mixed with smoke, came out white and it was snowing.
I don’t remember how long I waited that afternoon in Germany or even what happened to the soldier but I do remember the waiting and remember how well I did it. I wrote about waiting in my journal.
Well now thirty years had passed and I was still waiting and I was still doing it well. Not complaining to myself or anyone nearby. Just doing what I had learned to do best. Patience was a virtue and I was heavy with virtue.
I just wanted some more of Renny’s coffee but I would wait until she came by with the pot. Maybe a pained look to the cook would send a message to the waitress to bring me the pot, or maybe he would leave the safety of his kitchen zone behind the dulled brushed aluminum window and bring out a pot with a grunt.
It didn’t matter because if I was good at one thing it was waiting.
It struck me that my tombstone might read:
“I was waiting for this.”
Just moments before an upturned coffee pot splashed into my waiting cup, an old man wrapped in a blanket asked to sit just opposite me in the café. As he sat, he smoothly removed a folded black board and a small animal, a dog I suppose, from under his cape and asked,
“Do you play?” as he made a small bed of his blanket for his friend, “Are we interrupting?”
I motioned for him to sit and shook my head. I was neither interrupted nor bothered. I didn’t know his game, but I had only a few coins to lose and a dull afternoon of time to learn.
He settled into my table, cleared some items and set down his game board. It was edge-tattered but each section opened easily until I saw a square game board made up of four squares, each of a different color. A word was printed into each section: YES, NO, MAYBE and in the fourth section simply a series of dashes —.
We shared some gentle information, our names and the coffee we enjoyed at Renny’s. I thought I had seen him here before, but other than that I was not sure.
He fumbled in his side pocket and pulled out three carved pieces. As he set each piece on the edge, he held it up and said carefully,
” You”, then “Me” and for the larger carved shape, “Them.”
I am not much on games. I had never seen a game like this before but the simplicity intrigued me. Four squares, three game pieces. I truly had no idea.
“This is a game of Life, a game of Truth, a game of perception.”
He looked down at his board.
“There are few rules. You may move any piece. It is a game of learning. There is no beginning. There is no conclusion, but there is a purpose. When we walk away from the table, I will know more of you, you of me and us of them.”
“We each have our own Them. We each have a perception of ourselves and of the other.”
Much of the room disappeared and I focused on the surface of the table, the stranger’s voice, the game board and each of the carved pieces that stood in front of me.
“If you wish to share, I will stay. We can begin at anytime.” His voice enveloped everything and yet had no source.
“If I am intruding, we can each finish our coffee and exchange the pleasantries of strangers in a coffee shop and you can return to your pensive silence.”
His hand returned to his pocket and he retrieved small squares of paper. Several were printed with questions, several were blank. The questions went from simple like “Do you find comfort at home?” to “Can God be perceived?”, “Do you understand Love?” or “Are there Aliens?” and “Is Infinity apperent?”
The final question I read simply asked “Have we reached a point in our evolution, where a question can be asked for which there is no answer?”
“If you think of a question, you can use the blank squares. But your answer must be given last before we proceed.”
The waitress circled the other tables and finally reached ours. A nod from each of us and our cups were filled.
The stranger stirred his coffee, soft clinking of his spoon and said softly,
“You may begin when ready.”
I waited for just the right moment to move.