@ellowrites - here's an excerpt of my short story Cafe La Morte - hope you enjoy it!
Cafe La Morte - Chapter 1 - somewhere in the middle... you can read the full story on my website as it comes to life - Now up to Chapter 9 it kind of got away from me! http://www.jojette.com/cafe-la-morte
London was sweltering as I walked down the street. Headed for my usual place. As I passed the Café La Morte I saw it was for sale again. Funny that. It was up for sale pretty much every 6 months. I’d never even been in there once in the 3 years I had worked for Blahlamo. I always passed it off as being some kind of hipster paradise. Something I diligently tried to avoid. Beards and lumberjack nonsense. Boat shoes and oversized glasses. Their tag line was Coffee strong enough to wake the dead. I guess it was kind of quaint.
I leaned forward to get a better look in La Morte’s window. It actually looked nice inside. Polished wood, brass, green velvet booths. It looked like an old fashioned speakeasy that served coffee! Why had I never even given this place a go? Oh yeah. My own prejudices. Stupid arrogance and stereotypes. That’s all. My own hang-ups and worthless opinion. Well today was a good enough day as any to try something new. Cast of the shackles of judgey old judgement. Maybe they had good stuff to eat in there, and I could do with a dead waking coffee right now to be honest.
Pulling open the door I inhaled the wonderfully reviving aroma of fresh coffee and toasted goodness. The place was mostly empty, and so I chose a booth up the back to make my own. No wonder this place was always up for sale if this was the lunchtime crowd. It was hardly at capacity considering it was a prime time of day to be serving food and drinks. The waitress came over to take my order. Pretty girl in a mint dress with a thick black belt. Long red hair, but not natural red. Bright red. Artificial red. Dyed, obviously. She smiled and asked about my day. I said it was good, fine, and ordered coffee and a sandwich. She walked away.
I took off my jacket and laid it on the seat next to me in the booth. It was warm inside the Café La Morte. I stared straight ahead and waited for my coffee. The girl in the mint dress returned shortly, and placed a cup of coffee in front of me. The cup was ornate, made of china, with gold trim. More a tea cup, not meant for coffee. For some reason that bothered me. I guess I have mild OCD.
I took a sip. It was good. Damn good. Hot. Why had I not been here before? Oh that’s right. Judgey McGee. The girl in the mint dress returned with my sandwich. Salad. I’m vegetarian. Have been for years. I took a bite and realised I wasn’t hungry. I’d been thinking for too long now about what I had coming to me over the next 6 months. Inoperable they had said. Brain cancer. Who would have thought that. Not me. Ha! But I guess I covered that before right. I have an appointment with the oncologist this afternoon to weigh up my options. Chemo. Radiation. Whatever. It might prolong my life, but the results speak for themselves. Incurable. What would you do?
As I sat in the booth, sipping my coffee, my mind continued to wander. The girl in the mint dress came back. She wanted to know if everything was OK?
‘Yes, good, fine,’ I said and managed a smile. I asked when the café had gone up for sale.
‘Last Tuesday,’ she said.
‘Last Tuesday, or the Tuesday just gone?’
‘Hmmm,’ she wasn’t sure, but she knew it was a Tuesday. She smiled awkwardly and left.
I touched the green-flocked wallpaper on the walls. It was fuzzy and pleasant. I liked this place. What if I didn’t go back to work this afternoon and just stayed here and drank coffee, ate my sandwich slowly, then had drinks later? Fuck it. I could see the café also had a good stock of alcohol behind the bar… counter… whatever, and I was sure they served dinner. I didn’t have to go back to work. I really didn’t have to do anything now. That’s a very refreshing thought. And it was nice and warm in here. Quiet. No pressure. No clients. No idiot boss. I could just stay here. I COULD just stay HERE.
Why the fuck not?
I could buy this place. Sell everything I owned and just stay here until I died. Drinking coffee. Eating sandwiches. Lunching. Dining. Drinking. Meeting people. Fuck yeah! But how to go about it? How did you buy a café? I guess I needed to speak to the owner. This was all crazy but life it short. Especially mine. I looked over at the girl in the mint dress and called her over.
‘I’d like to meet the owner, I’d like to buy the place.’
She laughed. It was a pretty laugh. Like glass tinkling.
‘I’m quite serious,’ I added.
‘OK, mister quite serious, I’ll get the owner.’
She left, and came back with a handsome, square-jawed gentleman. Tall and lanky, well dressed, though not fashionably. This man had style. It was clear no one needed to tell him who he was. I wondered immediately what he was doing running a café. It didn’t seem to fit. He smiled and sat down.
‘Now why,’ he drawled in an accent I could not place, ‘would a nice young man like you want to buy the Café La Morte? You don’t strike me as the hospitality type.’
‘Neither do you,’ I smiled up at him, ‘but I am still considering it.’
He stuck out his hand with a laugh. His name was Luke, and it was nice to meet me. We talked for hours and worked out a deal. It turned out I was getting more than I bargained for, but if I could stick it out, Luke would see me right. So what does that mean? Well, it turns out Luke is short for Lucifer. That’s right, he’s the Devil. And he can fix me, de-big-C me, but he had some conditions. Like all contracts, there are clauses. The strangest part is I believed him. Straight up. No horse shit. I had no reason to question him really. Even if what he said wasn’t true I had nothing to lose. Well, my life, but that would happen anyway. There was just something about him. Call it a vibe. Call it a feeling. The uncanny way he was able tell me things about myself that not even my family knew. His knowledge of my current medical condition.
I wouldn’t call it conclusive evidence. There’s no way any human could have known that shit. It didn’t freak me out thought. It was reassuring. He knew exactly what I needed. And how to provide it. But it would cost me my last 6 months on Earth, and my atheism. I didn’t care. I’d already decided how I was going to spend the time I had left. Somehow this seemed to fit nicely into Luke’s plan, and was reflected in his offer.
So what was the offer? Details. I would indeed need to buy the café, but I would have to stay inside it 24 hours a day, for my last 6 months on Earth. I couldn’t put more than one foot outside, or the deal would be off. I would be obliged to eat, sleep, shit, shower, breath in the La Morte. And I couldn’t tell anyone why. Or I would be done. That would suck a bit. People are stupid. They always want to know why. If I die before the 6 months is up, well that’s just bad luck.
If I can last 6 months though, Luke will remove my cancer, and I walk away. What’s he getting out of it? I’m not sure. Yet. I think he just likes doing stuff for people. He’s gotten a pretty bad rap since the creation of religion, he explained. Why did he have to be the bad guy? He tells me God is a jerk. Well that was the consensus. I’m inclined to believe him. For my part, this was a news flash to me. As I said, I’m an atheist. Luke went on to add, none to bitterly, that he never did any of that shit he’s been credited with. The snake and the apple, Joan of Arc, Blues musicians, original sin, sin that was perhaps not so original. The list could go on forever. Essentially religious nut bags had tried to pin any evil nonsense on him, and even some stuff that wasn’t evil – like acts of nature. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, locusts. He wasn’t angry, he said.