In my time working in cafes I have overheard a lot of things. I love haunting the floor, drifting from one conversation to another. Customers treat me like a harmless ghost, continuing their conversations without batting an eyelid as I clear their tables, listening, observing.
A group came in yesterday and had coffee near the machine. They made a fine trio, two girls and a boy. As they talked I hung on their every word. I felt part of the conversation.
“Alright, here’s one,” the boy announced. His unusually deep voice commanded attention. “A stallion, a cancer scare and an empty Selfridges bag.” The girls laughed passionately. At first I didn’t understand and grinned shyly, then realized they were playing that game where you say three strange things in a row.
“My turn,” said the prettiest girl. “A copy of yesterday’s Times, heart shaped ice cubes and an elderly cat.” More laughter.
I liked these people. I thought about what I would say if I were playing, too. There are so many strange things to say it would be hard to choose just three. Japanese clowns, endangered species, bullfighting, the internet, bongo drums, acrobat couples. So many…
It was the other girl’s turn. She seemed deep in thought, like she was trying to conjure spirits. “Okay, how about an injured hand, French novels and…pubic hair,” she eventually said. The others laughed politely.
Brenda whistled to get my attention, a confusing habit of hers, and beckoned me over to the till. She leaned in close and whispered, “I think that the man on table three tried to hypnotize when he ordered just then.”
“How do you know?”
“There was a lot of eye-contact.”
“Too much?” I asked.
“Way too much.”
“And did he blink at all?”
“I don’t recall him blinking. It’s possible that we blinked at the exact same time but I doubt it.”
“Alright, I’ll go suss him out,” I said and made my way over to table three. As I passed the trio I overheard the prettiest girl. “And stubborn dads,” she laughed. They laughed with her. It was contagious. I broke into a smile and chuckled softly as I approached the suspected hypnotist.
To be continued…