I sit just outside the Cerebellum Café, and predictably it has just gone midnight. The café sign flickers on and off, on and off in its hypnotic rhythm and I can hear the sounds of the Medulla Intersection a little to the south.
The car beneath me is a cherry red classic, it seems too round and low to be real and I cannot place its make or model. I climb out of it and make my way into the café.
Inside the place is almost deserted. A trucker sits in one booth; he is a cliché with checked shirt and Harley Davidson baseball cap. I nod to him as I pass but he doesn’t respond even though he sees me.
I sit on one of the cracked burgundy stools bolted to the floor along the counter and from behind it a waitress approaches. She is forty-five and crow’s feet have begun to appear at the corners of her eyes. These do nothing to harm her beauty. I know she plays the violin and dreams of crowds and tears of joy at the sound of it in her hands. I know she is lost and fears with unique desperation that her talents will forever go to waste.
She fears she will die in ignominy.
She smiles, she knows nothing of what I know and her smile is honest and betrays nothing that lurks in her heart.
“Hi hon’,” she says, “What do you want?”
…And I am stumped.
I wonder why it is?
What do I want?
“I like to write.” I said and she noted something on her notepad.
“Coffee and key lime pie it is then.” She answered and turned away.
None of this seems bizarre to me, and I wait patiently for her return.
I do like to write, and I think I’m good at it too. Others seem to agree and many of them press me to make a living from it. The other day someone said “I like those things about Romero, why not write a book?”
Or word to that effect.
I remember the words: “Why give it away for free?” and I lean on the countertop. Flecks of red and blue intertwine across its veneer and I try to follow its pattern.
After a baffling pause I answered that I’d think about it, knowing that my words probably sounded dismissive; but I knew that I would think about it, because I think about everything.
I dislike the job I do in what we call the “real world”. Not that that place is the real world, it’s just the place we all share; this worlds highways lead to the real world; my real world at least.
Why don’t I just jump in that cherry red car outside and follow them?
I wonder why it is that I don’t?
Not fear of failure surely, you can’t fail more than not having tried.
Hopefully what I do and what I know dispels any notions that I’m lazy.
A small plate of lime green pie is slid between my hands and a coffee cup is placed next to it. I look up into the eyes of my waitress.
The crow’s feet are more pronounced than I remembered them and she had faint laugh lines at the corner of her mouth. Her name badge said “Allanah” in purple lettering against a pink background.
I wanted to take her in my arms for a moment and tell her that her prince would someday come, that violins were made to be heard and her art was as worthy as anyone’s. I could have cried for her at that point. Cried at the sheer frustration and horror or her life. Cried for her loss and the cruelty of passing out hopes and dreams like old people pass out bread to water foul.
Why not pass out success at a similar rate?
I wonder why it is?
“Thank you.” I say to her.
I do not tell her that her prince will come; I know that he won’t, because I know that those princes are too busy waiting for their own to arrive.
She smiles her beguiling smile and leaves.
The key lime pie is wonderful and the coffee hits the spot. I sip and think over the conundrum, wondering exactly what the cure for apathy might be.
posted by Alan Preece
on November, 06