The Stranger

An Essay By Taylor // 1/28/2009

The cafe is empty. Or nearly so. For all ten tables, there are only two men and a woman. The younger man of the two, dressed in a pinstripe suit, grey slacks, and leather shoes, is certainly here on business. A book rests on the table in front of him, cracked open about two hundred pages in. He appears distracted, agitated, a little nervous. Once he took out his phone and made a call. The voice on the other line, faint and obscured, was that of a woman. A girlfriend? His wife? A boss?

He looks about the room frequently, curiously, as if in need of rescuing from the dry subject matter before him. Now he is taking notes in a notebook. A student at the university, perhaps? His hair is jet black, trimmed short and plain, his skin white, and his face is of a fair complexion. His chin is endowed with a short, black moustache, which hesitantly creeps up to sit below his lip. Probably in his mid- to late-20s, I should presume. His voice, as he spoke to the woman on the phone, was quiet, articulate, and controlled.

Two black ladies work at the coffeebar, making drinks for the steady flow of customers that come and go. The parking lot is full, and it is an overcast day, not raining, but having just rained the night before. Patches of ice cling to the grass overshadowed by buildings and trees. The pale, naked limbs of oaks and the needles of the pines glisten with ice. The sun is nice and the wind tolerable, though many a person walks in bundled in coats, gloves, and a scarf.

Just now the businessman has stood up, preparing to leave. He has closed his book, and now I catch the title. "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left" by Jonah Goldberg, which I learn later was published by Doubleday in January, 2008. So it seems that my stranger is a student of politics, and the history of politics in particular.

The time is 2:30 in the afternoon. It is a Wednesday. Too late for a lunch break, but too early to be off work. As far as I know, the university is not on break. Is he unemployed, perhaps? One of the many jobless that have flooded the streets after the colapse of the local and national economy? But if so, would he not be in search of a job?

Now he has gone, and a Chinese woman has come to sit at his table. Maybe he left for a job interview at 3? That would explain why he appeared nervous. And why he was wearing a suit. But then again, I could be terribly mistaken. It could be that he played hookey from school for the day to meet up with a political organization for a rally. Or his father's adopted uncle just passed away. Or any number of things. To be honest, I could ask these questions all day of myself and not once arrive at a solid answer. Sooner or later, I must tell myself that he is a stranger, this is a cafe, and I am a writer, far too curious for my own good.

Comments

lol. Same here.

lol. Same here. :)
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He who is near to his Captain is sure to be a target for the archers.
-Amy Carmichael

Anna | Thu, 01/29/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

he, lol. I do that

he, lol. I do that sometimes. :P
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"You're pirates! Hang the code, and hang the rules! They're more like guidelines anyway"
-Elizabeth Swan//Pirates of the Caribbean//Curse of the Black Pearl

Sarah | Thu, 01/29/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

:D

This reminds me of what my mom and I call 'people watching'. Sometimes when we go to the mall and get a pretzel we sit on a bench and watch people going by and we make up little stories about them, like what job they have and their families. But usually we don't have clues like a book about politics to help us! :)
Judging from this, you're an excellent 'people watcher'! :D
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"Great, now we have to figure out if the lava lamp is an animal or a mineral."
--Harold Green

Hannah W. | Fri, 01/30/2009

WOW This was so good. I've

WOW This was so good. I've done the exact same thing a couple times...well maybe a lot of times:) You know, like the Russian spy sitting at the table next to you and you're afraid to go get more food from the duffet because he might kidnap you and send you to work in the coal mines of Siberia?!?!?! WOW that was a long/random sentence!
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"Pretty soon people are going to come to look at it. And some of those people will be... realtors!"--Klaus Baudelaire

Ariel | Sat, 02/07/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

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