We argued a lot that afternoon. My brother and I. Not over the quality of an espresso shot, but over dinner. We were both out of towners here in Chi-Town, just touched ground actually. Being the coffee connoisseurs we are we decided to find a brewery. Free wifi, a cuppa, and a place to make a dinner plan. Monteverde, Parachute, Gibsons. All 5 stars, but none lived up to the great culinary craving of Finnegan Ives. Deep Dish.
“We’ve been here for 2 hours Finny. If you don’t pick a place now we’re gonna be forced to eat deep dish leftovers from the dumpster. Better yet, YOU can eat deep dish leftovers and I’ll grab a bite with a lovely local” I say those last words loud enough to be heard, but not enough to break through the coffeehouse chatter. “And I doubt those lovely locals want a broke, scruffy, paperboy from Michigan. Oh! Did I say that out loud? “Yeah, ya did and broke to you doesn’t mean broke to anyone else” . I order another coffee, black this time as I’ve grown impatient waiting for Finn to pick a pizzeria. Being in the same place for too long has always made me feel a special kind of trapped. The kind where you start to know every detail of every person. Every freckle, every mole, every crack in every wall. Such as this place. Black brick walls encasing a rustic wooden environment; A barista of 5’4 with hoops the size of a basketball. It’s all new today, but tomorrow it will start to rust. “Finn..” I never got the chance to finish my thought because, as I had predicted, a lovely blonde local has bestowed upon me her phone number. Handwriting just as distinctive as her. “317-479-” “Your black chai latte sir can I get…I AM SO SORRY!”
I suppose God had it out for me because I never got to commit the last 4 digits to memory. Instead, I spent five minutes pardoning the woman who spilled scorching hot coffee on just about every inch of my exposed flesh. Long story short, I was in pain. However, that didn’t stop me from thinking about the woman who may or may not want to buy me dinner. Finn didn’t seem to notice as he was already standing, hastily slinging one arm through the denim jacket he’d stolen from dad. “C’mon, I’m sure there will be other locals to choose from. Round ones covered in cheese and basil. Smothered with handmade sauces and baked to what I presume, perfection.” “You make it sound compelling. Also, you need to get out more” And maybe he was right. Maybe I would find myself in the company of another, but strangely I didn’t wanna be. While Finn had been eyeballing google maps, I had set my sights on her. Picking her apart as if she were too complex as a whole.
Her order: Flat white. She must be a busy woman.
Her hair a mix between blonde and a crystallized white.
She had a book which could only infer she is intelligent.
I collected all of these things into my mind. Coming to a conclusion that she was exactly the type of local I wished to pursue, and for that I would wait for her, Here.
40 minutes had come and gone faster than I had hoped. A light rain had made its way to town, and from the looks of darkening clouds it had no intentions of leaving. Neither did I. I’ve received 3 unnecessary phone calls from my brother, each one more concerned than the next. “Please tell me you’ve left and that you’re currently on the way here. This is ridiculous. It was just a phone number and there’s a million more where that came from. For God’s sake Jackson get a grip on yourself. Find another like you always do.” The calls only got worse from there, and I can’t say I didn’t want to leave, but for some reason I just couldn’t. I sat contently in the booth where she’d departed. Twiddling my thumbs and observing the world through the window before me. Wondering if she were thinking about me, just as I about her. “Jackson Ives you’ve officially gone mad.” I whispered faintly as I made my way towards the counter, making heavy eye contact with the woman who should be paying for my dry cleaning. “There was a young woman. About 5’6 reading Catcher in the Rye at the corner booth. She’d ordered the flat white with extra foam. Can you tell me about her? A name? Does she come her often? Would I be able to find her elsewhere?” My palms felt like the ice caps in Spring. The barista’s face expression mimicking my own. Scared.
“Elizabeth is what I wrote on her cup. Now if you want her credit card information I suggest you leave before” “No! No no I want nothing like that. Um” “Um?” “She gave me her number before she left. YOU spilled coffee on it. I was thinking you could help me out…Please.”
Elizabeth. Her name left the perfect taste in my mouth. A sweet note paired with pure nicotine. I wasn’t a smoker, all the time. Today ,however, was a special occasion and my nerves felt they deserved it. I then took it upon myself to step outside into the pouring rain, although comfortably seated under a staged rusted awning, and ran through an entire pack of Marlboro Reds. The bleeding bud being the only light amongst those of the street. “6 HOURS JACKSON! YOU’VE BEEN THERE FOR 6 HOURS. They’re not even open again until 8 am. Jack, I fully support you being tied to one woman but isn’t this a bit much? WAITING there for her,,all night.” And I’d had enough “DO YOU REALIZE WHAT’S HAPPENED? THIS IS MY CHANCE AT A REAL FUTURE. THEN AGAIN YOU NEVER GET OUT SO THIS IS WAY OVER YOUR HEAD FINNY! Listen, I’m fine. I’ll be fine, and I’ll see you tomorrow. And so will she.””Jack you’re doing it again. Obsessi~”
That’s all I remember of the night as momentarily after I drifted off. Honestly, to this day that was the most comfortable bench I’d ever slept on.
The following morning was rough. My back hurt worse than any day spent throwing newspapers, and my body expelled the scent of ash. “Well, the dead man walks again”. It was a woman’s voice, and out of sheer hope I crack open an eye which proved harder than I imagined. It was the barista. Holding a fresh pot of life. Looking just as annoyed as yesterday. “Another?” She uses the pot to motion towards the pavement. 8 empty cups line up perfectly at my feet. Each one with the same tired ring stained to its bottom. “No, thank you. Think I’ve had one too many” “You sure mr. romance? Thought you’d wanna be awake to take a shot at your “pursuer”. Suddenly my mind is flooded with thoughts, because there, in the exact same booth as I sat waiting, is her. “
Take it.” I was shouting. Not even noticing that I had just slid the coffee woman a 50, but I didn’t care. I threw open the set of doors letting the chimes make my presence known. She didn’t notice. Still, I strode happily up to her, and nearly flung myself into the opposite side of the booth. “Ehem” “No, not another cup for me thanks” Her voice was different than in my daydreams, but that also didn’t matter. I concluded that maybe she was playing hard to get. Punishing me for never calling. “I was here yesterday. Well not here but there” I was motioning wilding, talking just as fast. “You gave me this? I never called, but only because that clutz over there spilled coffee on me and ruined the number, but I waited here for you all night. I knew you’d come back because why wouldn’t you? I mean, this could be a great opportunity. “ She was laughing. Hysterically to be specific. The peach in her cheeks turning a horrible shade of Red. “Jackson Ives. I’ve heard a lot about you.” “You asked about me too?” “I did. I asked you brother while we shared a pizza, and again when he walked me home.” “I don’t think I understand. You gave your number to me. Correct? Because you like me. Correct?” “I gave you the number to the pizza place. Correct. And I liked your brother. Correct?”