Wow, today we have a lot of customers. Almost all the visible tables are occupied.
The sound of the bell on the front door steals my attention. I move my gaze in that direction, and I see him … my client.
He looks around bewildered for a moment. He’s in a underwear, but he doesn’t care. Here it is neither cold nor hot after all.
He advance towards the main counter for information and the bartender directs him to a free table just next to a window. Following the bartender’s directions, the man advances in that direction.
He doesn’t notice anyone, and noone notices him. Here we are all ghosts.
He sits on what is a comfortable armchair. He opens the menu on the table in front of him and raises his hand to call the waitress.
So i go.
<<Hi.>> I greet him <<What can I offer you?>>
<<Um … a … hot chocolate, if possible.>> he asks after a moment of hesitation.
<<Hot chocolate coming!>> I say with a smile <<Wait a few seconds.>>
I advance towards the counter and the bartender hands me a large steaming cup. It is blue and white, slightly ruined. There is a name written on it with a pen, but I can’t read it. Above there is the cream, a poor, low quality cream. Inside there is the chocolate, barely sweetened.
I take the cup and bring it carefully and delicately to my client. I place it on the table in front of him.
<<Thanks!>> he says as soon as he see it <<This was very fast!>>
<<Oh yes. We are quick here.>> I smile.
<<Good to know!>> he smiles too, taking the cup in his hand. He looks at it, noting with nostalgic attention all the details I saw before <<Ah … shit …>>
<<What?>> I ask <<Something wrong?>>
<<No … er … no … nothing. I was thinking … of … a person.>>
I tilt my head curiously <<A person?>>
<<My sister.>> he speaks <<She … always used this cup. She also wrote her name on it, so that I wouldn’t get confused and take it.>>
<<Why didn’t you use different cups?>>
<<We were poor people, you know? Really poor. Mom sometimes didn’t even have the money for sugar. Imagine for two different cups.>>
<<Oh … I understand. What happened to your sister?>>
<<Nothing.>> he says while drinking the first sip <<It’s just that … I haven’t seen her for a long time. I miss her a little. >>
<<I understand. >> I sit on the chair in front of his table and watch him as he moves his gaze to the window; what he sees is a night street illuminated by a few lampposts; the air around us gets warmer, and a slow and calm background music begins to echo in our ears, a music that is making him reflect.
<<You know …>> he speak after a while <<This song … I don’t know why but it reminds me of the last year of studies.>>
<<Yes … I remember one day I was out with my friends. It was hot, the summer wind had invaded the city.>>
<<What were you doing?>>
<<Nothing important.>> he says shrugging <<We were hanging around joking, laughing, talking about the future … there were those who boasted about the school grades, those who complained about their girl … there was the drunk one who could barely walk , and the sober one who pretended to be drunk just to have fun with him … And … we went on like this.>>
<<All the night?>>
<<Yeah, all night.>>
<<And what happened to your friends? Where are they now?>>
<<I don’t know. We were young at the time so … it’s been a long time … I don’t know what happened to them.>>
<<Would you like to see them again?>>
<<Oh … yes. How much I would like to see them again. To repeat that night talking about stupid things and laughing at even more stupid things … To tell us about new experiences and to remind us of old ones. How nice it would be to do it … how much …>>
He takes another long sip and sighs.
The window is now different.
It’s daytime and the sun is slowly fading out. I see a jeep with beach equipment inside. There is also a dog in there, with his head out of the window and his tongue out of his mouth.
He is waiting for someone. My client probably.<<Who is he?>> I ask <<It’s cute.>>
<<The dog? >> speaks the man while smiling <<Oh … he is … he was cute, yes. I remember when that thing amused himself by chasing the children who played on the sand … he hopping here and there destroying the sand castles. He came back to us wet and very dirty. And with a lot of children running after him, all angry. >> and laughs.
<<Back to … “us”?>>
The man nods <<Yes. To us.>> says with a smile as sweet as sad <<It is not my dog after all. Is her dog.>>
Suddenly I see a woman appear out of the window. He approaches the jeep and the dog starts barking. She strokes him on the head, tells him something I can’t hear, and opens the car door.
The dog celebrates his mistress as much as possible in that confined space, after which she starts the vehicle and sets off. I don’t know where she’s goin, but it’s definitely a faraway place from my client.
<<When was the last time you saw her? >> I ask him.
<<At a party.>>
<<At a party? Really?>>
<<And what happened?>>
<<Nothing in particular. I wasn’t having fun, but she was. I told her I wanted to leave, but she wanted to stay. So I told her that I would go away alone.>>
<<Then I went home. Alone. >> he replies with a resigned sigh; with one last sip he finishes his chocolate << It was two in the morning. I took a shower and immediately went to bed. I only remember that it was soft and comfortable. For a second I thought about the fact that, for the first time since I had bought that apartment, I was alone on that bed … but it was fine. Sooner or later it had to happen. Things weren’t going well. So … yes, it had to happen. Everything ends sooner or later. And then the bed was warm enough so …it wasn’t too difficult sleep alone.>>
<<I hope you had a nice dream, then.>> I tell him with a smile.
<<I hope so. I don’t remember what I dreamed of.>>
With evident satisfaction on his face, the man places the cup on the table and stands up. He smiles at me thanking me for the chat, and without even needing to pay he heads for the door.
He opens it, and leaves.