Welcome to the Love World of Reason…
“I’m sorry, you what?” I say choking on my ice tea.
“So you and my Michey have been friends for a while now, is that right?” Mrs. McDowe says.
“Um yes, we have.” I say. So I guess we’re going to pretend like you didn’t just tell me you put your husband in a coma? Cool.
“So are you heading home after you leave here, or are you going to continue driving aimlessly?” Mrs. McDowe says.
“I think I probably should head home.” I say laughing, “It’s getting late.”
“You come back anytime okay, just make sure you call first.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“I’ll do that.” I say, “I’m not even sure how I ended up here to be honest. I was just driving…to clear my head you know.”
“Really.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“Yeah, I’ve always been like that. Whenever I have a lot on my mind, I just drive.” I say, “Not really sure what it accomplishes, but I usually feel better afterwards.”
“Do you feel better now?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“No.” I say.
“Why not?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“There’s this girl, well this woman. We used to be together when we were really young, then we broke up.” I say, “And out of nowhere there she is. She’s right there in my coffee shop. Of all the coffee shops in the world, of all the places in the world, she ends up right here.”
“Interesting.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“I just hope she’s not here to stay, I don’t think I can handle that.” I say.
“And why not?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“Because I love her.” I say, “Knowing she’s in the same town will be torture.”
“I understand.” Mrs. McDowe says, “Have you ever thought maybe she walked back into your life so you guys could have a second chance?”
“I, I don’t think that’s the case grandma.” I say.
“And why is that?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“Well, I’m the one that ended things…I really hurt her.” I say, “No…she wouldn’t take me back.”
“Have you ever spoken to her since you broke it off?” Mrs. McDowe asks.
“No, ma’am.” I say.
“Well then how do you know she wouldn’t take you back?” Mrs. McDowe says.
“Well I don’t know.” I say, “But I just don’t think she would.”
“I always say, it ain’t over till it’s over.” Mrs. McDowe says.
I laugh, “That is true.”
“You owe it to yourself and to her, to at least have a conversation.” Mrs. McDowe says.
“It’s getting really late. I should get going.” I say.
“I’ll walk you to the door.” Mrs. McDowe says, “Tell my baby hello for me.”
“Will do.” I say.
As I drive home I begin to feel tired. I didn’t realize it but all this stress has really drained me. I do want to talk to Louise and tell her I still love her. Maybe grandma is right, maybe there is a chance she will take me back. What am I thinking, a woman as amazing as Louise isn’t still single after all these years. She’s probably happily married with four children and six grandchildren. Damn. The thought of that makes me happy and sad. Of course I’ve always wanted Louise to have this amazing life, she deserves it, but a part of me has always wished she never stopped loving me.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask.
“Who says I’m thinking about anything?” Louise says.
“Whenever you’re quiet, it means you’re thinking.” I say.
“Oh so you’re saying I talk a lot?” Louise says.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” I say laughing.
Louise laughs, “Is that so BJ?”
BJ or Big Jeremy is what Louise calls me when she wants to be intimate. Louise rolls over and gives me a kiss on the lips, “Don’t try to distract me with kisses missy.” I say kissing her back.
“I don’t know what you mean BJ.” Louise responds as she kisses me some more.
“That’s completely not fair.” I say in between kisses.
“What’s not fair?” Louise asks smiling.
“You know I can’t resist you.” I say rolling on top of her.
“And if you ever get to a point where you can, we’re in trouble.” Louise says.
That night we make love until my father knocks on the door so loud it snaps us back into reality, “Hey whatcha doing in there,” my dad says through the door.
“Just playing monopoly Joe.” Louise says giggling.
By now Monopoly is no longer a code word Louise and I use, my parents and her mom have cracked the code. Her dad on the other hand is still in denial. “Is that so?” My dad says laughing, “It sounds like someone just got a good deal on a house.”
Louise and I laugh then she says, “Sure did.”
“So baby, you gonna tell me what you were thinking about?” I ask.
“You don’t give up don’t you?” Louise says.
“Not when it comes to you.” I say.
Louise hesitates than says, “That’s what I was thinking about actually.”
“I don’t understand.” I say.
“I had this dream last night.” Louise says, “We broke up and I was devastated.”
“Well that’s not gonna happen.” I say.
“It felt so real. I woke up crying and I…I don’t know, it just felt really real Jerry.” Louise says quietly.
“It was just a dream honey, don’t even think about it.” I say. “The only way we’re breaking up is if that UFO Mrs. Marsha keeps seeing comes and abducts me.”
Louise smiles, “Promise?”
“Promise.” I say, “As you know I have a surprise for you, I wanted to wait till later to tell you, but it sounds like you could use some good news so I’ll tell you now. I booked a cruise for us, for next summer, after senior year.”
“Oh my gosh BJ.” Louise says hugging and kissing me, “I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise.”
“I know.” I say, “You’ve only mentioned it a couple hundred times.”
“It didn’t seem like you were listening when I would talk about it.” Louise says smiling.
“I was.” I say squeezing her so tight I feel her hold her breath.
We never went on that cruise. “Jerry, how was my grandma?” Michelle says snapping me back to reality.
“I really like her M.” I say.
“I knew you would.” Michelle says smiling, “She called me right after you left. She said to look out for you, because you’re special.”
“Did I mention I really like her?” I say smiling.
“I told her, you were special alright.” Michelle says, “Short yellow bus special.”
“So are you gonna tell me why you live in this crappy apartment when your grandmother is filthy rich?” I ask bluntly.
“This is a nice apartment.” Michelle says, “So Jonny asked if we would come in tomorrow and open the café. So you know what that means. I gotta sleep early tonight. So thanks for coming by I’m going to bed just let yourself out. Good night Jerry.”
I find it extremely funny and annoying that Michelle will push an issue when she wants answers, but she immediately changes the subject and walks away when she doesn’t want to discuss something. But no worries. I’m not letting her off the hook that easily. “Night M.” I head to my apartment and lay on the couch. It doesn’t take me too long to fall asleep because I am beyond exhausted.
The next morning I wake up tired and groggy. I slowly move about getting ready for work. As I’m making breakfast it hits me that Louise might be there today. I suddenly get really nervous, I can feel my heart racing. Maybe it wasn’t Louise I saw. Maybe it was a woman who looked like Louise, I mean it has been 20 years for goodness sacks. I walk out of my apartment and cross the hall to Michelle’s apartment, before I can knock on the door she opens it and says, “Hey you, let’s go, we’re going to be late.”
Michelle has some sort of belief that if you’re on time you’re late. “How’d you sleep last night M?” I ask.
“Wonderful and yourself?” Michelle says smiling.
We walk out of the building and get into my car, “I slept like a corpse.” I say.
“You mean like a baby?” Michelle says.
“No, I didn’t poop and pee on myself.” I say.
“What?” Michelle says.
“Babies poop and pee on themselves when they sleep.” I say smiling, “I did neither.”
Michelle looks at me and rolls her eyes, “Remind me again why the whole stand-up comedian thing didn’t work out for you.”
“Don’t be like that, you know I’m funny.” I say laughing.
“You’re about as funny as a sack of potatoes.” Michelle says smiling.
“A sack of potatoes on their way to Paris.” I say.
“What?” Michelle says laughing.
“You know, to become French fries.” I say laughing.
“Please stop before you hurt yourself.” Michelle says.
We pull up to the back of the café, “Le Bon Café.” I say, “What does that even mean?”
We walk into the coffee shop and start to set up, “You mean to tell me you’ve been working here for five years and you don’t know what the name of the place means?” Michelle says looking at me strangely.
“Umm, yea.” I say looking away.
“When customers ask you what it means what do you say?” Michelle asks.
“Whatever comes to mind at the time.” I say.
“You’re joking right?” Michelle says laughing.
“Are you gonna tell me or not?” I say.
“Yes, but first please tell me what you’ve been telling our customers.” Michelle says.
“Sometimes I tell then it means, The Coffee Shop or Coffee Place.” I say.
Michelle laughs so hard she falls on the floor, “Oh my gosh, Jerry. I can’t believe you. Le Bon Café means, the good coffee. Or at least that’s the literal translation, but it basically means: good coffee.”
“Oh.” I say, “I guess that makes sense.”
“Go set the tables Jerry, I’m not gonna get any work done with you back here.” Michelle laughing.
“Ha ha.” I say going to the front of the house. I set the tables with silverware and napkins. I stock bread in the bread baskets and set them on the table. When I’m done and it’s time, I unlock the front door and wait for customers. Right on schedule, Mrs. Tony walks in and sits at her usual table. “Mrs. Tony.” I say, “How are you this morning. Can I get you your usual?”
“No Jerry, I want to try something new today.” Mrs. Tony says.
We go through this every day. Mrs. Tony takes twenty minutes to look at the menu trying to decide on “something new”, only to settle with the same thing she usually gets: a black coffee, two sugars, and a cup of warm milk on the side. She likes to drink her warn milk right after she sips her black coffee. She almost chopped my head off when I dared to suggest putting the milk in the coffee.
“Mrs. Tony, good morning to you.” Michelle says coming from the back room.
“Hello, Michelle.” Mrs. Tony says.
“Trying something new today Mrs. Tony?” Michelle says smiling.
“Yes, but I can’t seem to figure out what I want.” Mrs. Tony says.
“Mrs. Tony, take all the time you need.” Michelle says looking at me smiling, “I’m sure Jerry would be more than happy to give you a full detailed description of everything on the menu.”
I look at Michelle and fake a smile, “Why thank you Michelle, it would be my absolute pleasure to help in any way I can.”
“Wonderful.” Mrs. Tony says, “Tell me about everything on the menu and don’t leave any details out.”
I go through each item one by one and give Mrs. Tony all the details I can think of. I am going to kill Michelle. I wonder where I should bury her body. After I go through the last item, Mrs. Tony says, “Jerry, you make everything sound just scrumptious. I think I’ll have…a black coffee, two sugars and a warm cup of milk on the side please.”
I stare at Mrs. Tony and say nothing.
“Jerry?” Mrs. Tony says after ten minutes of silence, “Did you get that? Would you like me to repeat it?”
I shake my head no. I cannot even talk right now I am so annoyed. I’m not sure why I’m surprised, I guess I was hoping Mrs. Tony would pick one of the twenty items on the menu. I walk away and go make a black coffee with two sugars and a cup of warm milk on the side.
“I’m so sorry Jerry.” Michelle says trying not to laugh, “I had no idea she was actually going to take that suggestion.”
“I’m going to kill you.” I say.
“I know, I know.” Michelle says, “Sorry. I gotta run, but you can kill me after I get this customer that just walked in.”
“You guys talk more than you work.” Jonny says, “If you guys don’t shape up, I will fire you both.”
Michelle and I look at the meanager and say nothing. I walk back out to Mrs. Tony’s table and place her coffee and milk down, “Do you need anything else?”
“I’m quite alright, thank you.” Mrs. Tony says.
One of these days, I’m going to tell Mrs. Tony we’re out of coffee and milk, that way she’ll be forced to try something else on the menu. As I am walking to the back room, the front door chimes and I look over to greet the customer and it’s Louise.