Four men stood in the doorway, their dark suits a contrast to the casual attire of the other customers. They removed their sunglasses and waited while their eyes adjusted from the bright sunshine to the dark interior of the coffee shop.
The moved towards a table in the corner, hesitated, and then one of them pointed to the stairs. They climbed up to the tables on the mezzanine floor. A waitress followed with a jug of water and four glasses. Two of the men took seats at a table at the top of the stairs while the other two commandeered the couch in the opposite corner.
The waitress placed the jug and two glasses on the table and discussed the buffet with the two men before moving over to the couch. There she placed the other two glasses.
“Are you also going to have the buffet?” she asked.
“No,” one of the men mumbled.
“Would you like the menu?”
“I’ll just bring another jug of water then,” she said and walked towards the steps.
The men at the table shed their jackets and followed her down the stairs to choose their meal from the buffet. They returned with full plates while the waitress brought the promised jug of water to the men on the couch.
The meal was eaten but not enjoyed. The business on the table was more important than food. Notepads and calculators soon replaced plates as the two settled down to work. Cell phones became tools to bring others into the discussion and to source additional information. Was this a conspiracy to take over the world? A business deal?
On the couch, water was drunk, newspapers scanned and cell phones engaged. Now and again one of the watchers would get up and saunter past the meeting and down the stairs, to return a short while later and take his place on the couch. At the table, ties were loosened as the discussion became more serious. On the couch, ties remained tight and jackets on (hidden weapons perhaps?), although bodies slipped down to more comfortable positions and newspapers were read in more detail.
Intense discussion at the table contrasted with the silence on the couch. Would the two drowsy watchers spring into unexpected action if tempers flared or a suspicious customer threatened the table? I was tempted to find out but, preferring the quite life, I paid for my meal and slipped out into the bright sunshine, leaving the talkers to talk and the watchers to watch.
I scanned the papers for the next few weeks to check whether someone had taken over the world or a business deal had been struck—nothing.
- Coffee Shop Tales: Hannah (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)