Her name is Laura. She loves films. She sits every night and watch stupid films on T.V. until dawn. I mean, seriously? Watch films on T.V.? But I can’t blame her after all. What else can you do when you can’t sleep? She has seen everything and I mean everything. You name it and she’s seen it. From the cheesy prime-time flicks, the raw midnight cheap porn, the Hollywood all-audiences-allowed mainstream comedies to the independent B films produced by some artsy international channel such as Canal+ or the like. Believe me, she’s seen’em all. And when nothing’s good on T.V., she’ll watch the same film over and over until dialogue becomes her speech and soundtrack becomes her pop music. She’ll dig anything you give her. S’all the same to her. After all, she’s just another person in the audience, an all-observant audience. A quiet spectator any producer and director could ask for.
It’s 07:55 in the morning. She turns off the T.V. at 7 sharp everyday. She never sleeps, or at least I’ve never seen’er sleep. She gets up from the couch, takes a shower, dresses up and goes to work. She’s a waitress on a small cafe on Central Avenue, owned by some Jew or Latino for whatever difference it really makes. She’s always five minutes earlier. Every day. Five minutes. Not one more, not one less. Five minutes. She’s the first to show up. She opens up, gets inside, turns the lights on. Without a sign of being tired, without shades under her eyes, she stands there behind the counter, waiting. Waiting for someone to get inside and order anything. Now I know why they’re called “waiters”. But it’s not the waiting thing or the films thing what freaks me out, it’s the routine. God! how can she stand that eveyday act? Check-in, leave the purse in the lower shelves, wear that ridiculous green apron, clean up the tables, fix the espresso machine, and smile. Smile while she’s waiting, smile when the customers get in, smile when that creepy old dude, the shop’s owner, enters with the newspaper under his arm. The same old creepy dude, different newspaper though, and she just smiles. He wouldn’t even look at her but she smiles, the same smile, day-af-ter-day.
It’s fifteen past nine. I get inside the cafe and sit at the round table, the one with the flowered tablecloth by the street window. I like sitting there, you can see both, the inside of the cafe and the street. Mamma always said I was some sort of claustrophobic but I’m not. I’m just paranoid enough to sit wherever I’m able to see my surroundings. Besides, sitting there allows me to see her better. I can see wherever she goes behind the counter. I can see her waitress wait, her waitress moves, her “waitress stare”, always alert to any movement, always expectant for something to happen.
She walks towards the table right after I sit. She hands me the menu and waits quietly until I decide what to order. “Double espresso. No sugar,” she repeats as she writes. She writes the same everyday on her pocket-sized yellow papers. I mean, what’s the problem? can’t she remember? She should know by now what I drink, but she always writes it down. I guess she forgets, or perhaps she has to record EVERY order to account at the end of the day to that creepy old bastard. I don’t know but it seems like a waste of time to me, but hey! what do I know about running a cafe?
Aside from the films thing and the routine thing, she’s my favourite kind of woman: long legs, thin lips, pale skin, long lashes, narrow hands, short nails, zesty smell. You just don’t see this kind of beauty in this town. It just don’t exist anymore. Everybody’s just too busy trying to be someone, trying to become something else. Trying to be better, or at least, disguising as if they were better, when the truth is they’re just another rat on the racetrack. Another cattle cow. Another sheep following promises of some sort. Perhaps that’s what I like about’er. The transparency of her movements. Her volatile silence. Her nonchalance.
She approaches with a small wooden tray and leaves the tiny steamy cup on the table. “Thanks,” I say with a modest smile, touching her hand. “I’m just serving coffee, you can thank me but you don’t have to touch me. If you ever try something like that again, you will regret it.” she whispers looking straight into my eyes.
Hazel eyes. For a moment, I forget the threat. All I see are her freckled lips moving up and down in slow motion. I imagine her wearing nothing but her marble-like naked body while her red hair covers her small tits, closing her eyes while she opens her legs and— “One dollar fifty.” She interrupts my daydream with the bill. I search for my wallet while she’s still there, waiting. I take out two dollars. “Keep the change,” I smile. “Thank you, but I don’t live on tips,” she says leaving two quarters on the table. “May I clean so you are more confortable?” I nod. She picks up the cup, wipes the table and walks to the kitchen behind the counter.
I get up and follow her. “Geez, sorry, Humm? Laura?” I say after reading her name on the plastic plaque in her shirt. “I didn’t mean bother you,” I say in a sincere apology, but she’s completely ignoring me. Boy, she doesn’t know what buttons she’s pushing! If there’s something that get me on my nerves is people ignoring me. I’m holding myself not to go behind the counter when a bunch on yellow papers land on the countertop. “Why is it so hard for you to fill the reports as I ask?” The creepy old dude comes out of the office. He looks at me embarrassed. “I’m sorry you have to see this sir,” he apologises. “No problem. I was on my way. Thanks for the coffee Laura.” “Of course sir,” she says. “Don't forget your bill,” she hands me one of her yellow papers. She looks at me firmly and I know it’s time to leave. I doubt for a second since I never pick up my bills, but I grab the paper knowing something’s up. “Right. Thank you.” I say nervously. “We hope to serve you again,” the creepy dude says. I put the paper on my trouser’s pocket and get out the cafe.
To be continued.