The next time we met we were back where we first crossed paths, about a year ago, and finally had some real conversation only a month earlier.
Although she wasn’t strange at all to the place, if it was a match I would say I had home advantage.
But only because I used to clock-in daily, I mean nightly at the place, while she was to be seen and recognized all over the city. Sometimes I was among the first to arrive, sometimes I stayed until closing time. Not scarcely both.
We arrived early at the same time that day. There was another couple but they were finishing a late lunch and then we had the room completely to ourselves. Nonetheless I took the usual table, in the back, around the inner corner.
I was on time and so was she. I guess the smile we shared comprised our mutual approval for that. Not for the sake of punctuality, but for some silent agreement on the necessity of having some time alone just the two of us.
Another thing I remember was some exchanges of looks among the waiters and the fact that only Wally “the Gator” came to our table and sounded unnaturally respectful. I liked that.
As I said she was not as regular as myself, but she knew all the waiters and was known by all. I’m sure she noticed they were kind of happy to see us together, like wondering if we were “together”.
After a few moments we were back to our previous conversation, like we hadn’t been a whole week apart.
“I’ll pass by your house and give you a ride.”
My friend W. W. knew how I feel about first days at school, meaning every first day attending any new classes. I actually have all kinds of nightmares, from not finding the classroom to not realizing what I’m going there for in the first place.
But I was planning to stick around downtown after work until 19h30.
“Good, I’ll catch up with you and we’ll grab something to eat, then. What about the old place? It’s been a time, uh? I’ve heard it might be closing doors for good…”
What a pity, for so many time we have hanged around that hot corner of the city, until there was only one last bar left.
I have strolled around for a bit longer than I expected so when I reached W.W. he was halfway through with his sandwich and mine was being served by Wally Gator, my favorite waiter. Perfect timing after all, if not for the fact that he gobbles his food at least four times faster than I played with mine.
That left him a lot of idle-mouth time, which he filled with loose conversation with the waiters, trying to keep up to date.
Two guys, whose ages combined exceeded a century, like getting ready for school. I could sense he was agitated and I was trying to stay cool.
Although it meant to me nothing but an excuse for staying out long enough to avoid finding my wife awake when I get home, I was feeling an unpleasant tightness in my stomach.
My friend’s excitement was evident and I have tried to warn him to disguise it. I knew he would not listen and he knew I was really worried about myself.