12 April 2008


An older man with white hair on the sides of his head and no hair at all on the top sucks in slow from his cigarette.  He sits under the eaves of the café in lukewarm shade, the cigarette held between two fingers resting on the arm of a faded plastic chair.

A woman walks outside with a clipboard, newspaper and a dark brown leather purse.  Her sunglasses are pushed to her hairline.  She sits at the next table and crosses her tan thighs under her floral print dress, the white flowers outlined in red surrounded by night black sky.  She too smokes a cigarette.  In fact, they both smoke Marlboro Lights.

He notices the design on the back of her clipboard.

You teach, he says
Yeah, she says.
Lot of teachers around here.  One inside.  He teaches mechanical engineering.
Oh yeah?  She studies him from the corner of her eyes, blowing smoke from the side of her mouth.

Later on he asks, You look young to be a teacher, why history?
I studied abroad in Germany, she answers.
I was stationed there in '72, '73.  Frankfurt.  You study in Frankfurt?
No, Bonn.
I miss the beer, he says.
Yeah, she says.  It's hard to find places here for a nice quiet beer.
All the bars here are filled with yuppies.  Too many yuppies.  He shakes his wrinkled head.  

There are still a few dive bars around.
Those aren't real dive bars, lady.
The Mermaid is but the owner died and they are selling the property.
That place has been around for 50 years though.

You like teaching?
I like the freedom.

The old man lights another cigarette.  She gets up from the seat and presses her cigarette out with hurry in a black ashtray.  She tucks the clipboard under her arm and turns to him, full frontal.

The children left behind are ruining this country. 
 She leaves him and walks off back inside, settling low in the corner of an empty couch and begins reading and marking papers attached to her clipboard with red ink.

The old man smokes three more and gets up, stuffing the side pocket of his jeans with his pack of Marlboro Lights and transparent neon green lighter.  She left her newspaper outside on the seat of a green plastic chair, the paper folding casually back and forth as ocean air breezes through the patio.

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