Photo by taylor hernandez on Unsplash

“So, is he coming today to meet you?”, Nancy asked me wiping the glasses. “Yeah, he texted me yesterday night”, I replied taking the orders. “Hey Nancy sweetheart”, shouting the guy on his shorts & hoodie entered again today at 12.00 am ringing the bell thrice at the door, so that all the customers could see him giving a flirtatious entrance to the café. He entered casually and sat on the adjacent corner of the counter with the single seat, at his usual spot. After serving my order in hand, I went towards his counter and asked him politely as a part of my job, “How may I serve you, mister?”. He was wearing his coolers and using his phone inside the café at night, nothing sounds weird, he was totally him. He gazed at me for a second, I was able to see his eyes going up-down movement through his glasses. I pretended to ignore his gaze and smiled continuously like who was waiting to take his orders. On removing his coolers he again gazed at me for a second and replied with a naughty smile, “I want you to serve me in a cow girl costume”. “I meant the drinks sir”, I replied with the annoyed tone without losing the smile on my face. “Oh yeah, one large Cognac neat is fine”, he continued spontaneously, “Also you won’t look so good in cow girl costume that I bought because it’s for Nancy’s, can you just ask her to serve me, please”. “Sure”, I replied with a fake smile and shouted, “Nancy, you’re wanted here”.

As Nancy walked past me, I whispered in her ears, “This guy always get into my nerves every time”, she chuckled and went to him. I continued to take orders from others along, I started closing the bills, while Nancy and he were having an interesting discussion with big laughter. The whole café was able to hear them laughing, as I starred at them, he looked at me and again both continued with reduced voices. He gave her a brown package, while she thanked him and went into the store room to place the bag in her locker. I was already wiping tables while, most of the customers were leaving as the bar was about to get closed. When I reached back again to the counter, Nancy poured his Cognac in a snifter for him and asked, “So, did your parents send his photo?”. “Oh yes, just see this “, saying so I opened my chat and showed her the photo of Jesus Christ written with “Good Morning” on it, “This what they sent me when I asked for his photo”, Nancy burst out in laughter looking at the picture and said, “They set you up on a blind date and still figuring out how to send the right photos in whatsapp?!”. As we both laughed, he also started laughing looking at his phone. We stood silent starring at him as he started to laugh, on hearing the silence he looked up at us and replied, “Oh, sorry I was laughing at a meme that I just saw”. I nodded my head annoyingly, turned to Nancy and whispered, “He definitely made fun of us”, “Not us but you”, she replied serving him the drink and continued, “Do you know why little boys always pull little girls pigtails?”. “Oh Nancy, not again, this guy just flirts with everyone and annoys me for no reason, he’s always like this”, I replied in a bored tone as I heard her say this many times. “Don’t you read the room, instead of meeting your Jesus Christ, this guy could work for you better, trust me, he is nice and when I was groaning about my child’s Halloween competition, he offered me to help and today he got her a cow girl dress”, she said. “Oh so the package was the outfit for your girl”, I replied. “Why, were you curious what was inside?”, she asked with a suspicious smile. “I definitely do not care”, I replied so over confidently. She smiled and went to change as her shift was getting over.

Nancy left carrying her bag with the brown package he gave, while leaving she rang the bell and shouted, “Enjoy your date”. I smiled and continue closing the day’s accounts. “Did she meant us”, he asked with confusion and curiosity. “Not us”, I replied without looking at him and continued, “I also would like to inform you sir that no more drinks available as the bar closes soon”. “Yeah, I know, also I have half n hour for 1.00 am so as a customer I demand to stay till the bar closes”, he replied with an evil smile. “Sure”, I replied looking at him with a fake smile. I started brewing a cup of black coffee at the expresso machine at the other end of the counter, took it to the most cleaned table that was diagonally opposite and far from him at the other corner of the bar.

As I was eagerly waiting for the family set up date’s arrival, I was admiring the Varakala cliff view of the Arabian sea through the glass walls of the bar and enjoying the waves taking bath in the moonlight. I was getting so conscious that someone was looking at me, so I suddenly turned to see whether he was the one because he was the only one inside the bar, but he was busy having is drink and using his phone. Still, I remained looking at him for few more seconds to confirm my consciousness, suddenly the door bell rang as someone opened it. It was him, tall, neatly combed hair in formals, assuming he came straight from his work. As I stood up looking at him, he asked, “Candice?”, “Yeah, hello”, I said with a smile and shook his hands. He sat on the table and looked around the café for few seconds and smiled at me again. I asked, “Would you like to have some…”, even before I could finish “No that’s fine I don’t drink”, he interrupted. I replied stammering, “Oh…ok”. “Sorry I came in between the break of my shift, so I have only an hour for us today”, he said. “That’s fine”, I said and continued, “It’s just our first meet, right”. As I was about to initiate the conversation myself, he started by asking, “So will you be running this café bar even after our wedding?”. “Yes, this is what I have been doing all these days”, I replied in a polite calm manner, trying not to get angry on questioning my career. “Hmm…but don’t you think it will affect our family life after having children?”, he continued, “Why can’t we open a pastry shop instead after our wedding?”. I was shocked and unsure of answering his questions as my head was already boiling red. I chose to remain silent and nodded my head to make sure I was listening. “I was informed about your past life, I definitely don’t care what was your past but when we start a new life I also don’t want your past to interfere our future or current life, If you know what I mean”, he said. I sighed looking away hearing these demands, in a glance I saw the hoodie was still using his phone on the other corner. I leaned in forward of the table to reply calmly so that my annoying customer could not hear about my personal life. “I understand all your concern but…”, when I started, suddenly the power went out. “Oh shittt”, I hear the hoodie shouting from the other corner of the bar. While the new soon to be my groom guy and I got up from the table as the power went out and looked outside the bar. As it was located on the cliff we could see that whole city was on black out, “Oh God, am sorry, its time for me to get back to my office since it’s a black out”, he continued leaving the door, “So you think about the things I told, I’ll call you when my shift gets over to hear back your answer, Ok?”, he said in a hurry and left. “Ok”, I said and sighed, by the time he already sat on his car.

Slowly the moonlight started intruding into the glass walls of the bar like a focus light as it was few minutes past the blackout. We could hear the traffic sounds and people chaos rising in feeble down the cliff. I hurried to my counter and said, “Sir you can kindly leave now, also you can pay us on your next visit as I will keep your bill open until next time”. “I am not leaving you alone in the bar in between the blackout”, he replied. I went to the door, holding it

open and continued in a firm voice, “I am sorry sir but its past the close time of bar and you will have to leave”. He held my hand that was on the door knob, closed the door, put on the top and bottom pat locks and turned the sign board saying “Closed” facing outside the bar, he said, “I may be a customer, but I cannot leave you alone in this bar during the black out when even the alarm systems are not working, here, you can take my phone, keys, pen etc. anything that is sharp from me, also if you have nail cutters you can lend me one so that I can cut those only sharp edges of my body”. I sighed rolling my eyes and went to the counter to remove my aprons as I was already tired and angry for arguing now at that mental state.

I went back to the table where I kept my black coffee to sit, I leaned on it holding my head. He took his snifter and came sat opposite to me. “I am sorry about today, but he is not the right one for you”, he said. I lifted up my head in anger and said, “So were you eavesdropping on us?, unbelievable”, I sighed. “I am sorry I couldn’t help”, he continued having his drink with a smirking smile on his face. To defend myself I replied, “What makes you the right judge to decide that he is not right for me?”. He quickly took out a card from his wallet and said, “See I am a premium member of your bar, you signed it below, isn’t that enough Candy?”. I exasperatedly asked, “Did you just call me Candy?”. “I am accompanying you in mid of this black out safely for you to admire this moon-beach view from this corner of your bar and I don’t get to call you Candy for once?”, he asked furiously. I couldn’t help but smile, so I tried to resist however, he managed to notice even in this dim showcase of moonlight on my face. We remained silent for few minutes while I was calming myself to the sea.

He lit up a cigarette and asked, “Shall I?”. “Why do you even ask when you lit up already?”, I replied looking away again. The smoke in the moonlight inside the glass covered bar at edge of the cliff with the view of a beach turned the place into a dream land though. “Do you know café royale?”, he asked. “Mmmm-hmm”, I hummed and nodded looking outside the view. “I am having brandy and you are having coffee, don’t you see this?”, he asked. “This is definitely not the right time to flirt”, I said. “No, I am serious, that Jesus christ is not right for you!”, he said leaning forward on the table insisting his point again. With a resistive smile I asked, “What makes you think like that?”. “I don’t about him but you can definitely run this bar even after marrying me”, he said looking down into the empty snifter glass and exhaling his smoke. “Are you asking me to…?”, while I dragged my question to confirm, he quickly looked into my eyes and said “Yes” and continued, “I can help you be the bouncer of your café after my work hours to protect you if any flirting guy like me tries to hold your hand and close the door”. “That is sweet of you but you don’t know anything about me yet”, I said with a disappointed smile. “I know about Sarah and her custody”, he replied at the moment looking outside the beach. I remained silent and shocked looking at him with millions of questions rising in mind on whether how he came to know. He looked at me for second in my eyes and said, “Nancy told me about your divorce, I am definitely asking only because I knew about Sarah”, he continued, “I can be a cool dad, I also drew a butterfly for her art class once, look”, saying so he took out his phone and showed me the pictures of Sarah and him when they took whenever Sarah visits the bar. I was surprisingly shocked to focus on the pictures, though they both looked good together in those pictures, beyond those I was admiring him and his happy face when he talks about Sarah. I slowly leaned backwards on the chair and said, “So, you were the reason behind Sarah being scolded in her art class once?”, I asked. With a mischievous look he closed the picture of butterfly in the phone and kept it aside, he continued, “See I can be her clumsy dad who can screw up her homeworks”.

“I am glad that you are good with Sarah, yet somehow she will be your step daughter anyways”, I said. “See one day when Sarah gets down out of her school bus, I want her to come running towards me shouting, “Hi dad” and hug me tightly”, he continued, “Just imagine she is running towards me to hug, shouting “Hi step-dad”, that definitely doesn’t sounds good..I am here to make her call me dad and you be the mom always”. I chuckled and continued listening, “Only if you want to have more children, we will have, otherwise I am ready to hear Sarah’s daily stories alone for the rest of my life”, he said with a smile looking at the beach.

As he was explaining, my eyes silently filled with tears that was about to roll down my red cheeks. I couldn’t able to look into his eyes so I was smiling and looking at the beach that has the streaks of moonlight hitting the shores continuously. “Lets not hide this beautiful view and this bar from our children, I will teach them not to drink and will also teach them when and how to start with discipline if they are only willing to”, he continued, “Its been six months I am visiting this café alone, I could bring my friends here but I couldn’t. I was definitely not just fooling around you Candice, I waited all these months to know more about you so that I could finally ask you out on a first date but unfortunately only today I knew about your date with that Jesus Christ. I stayed, so that I knew you would need my kind of nuisance to put that smile back on your face like now”.

I remained silent while I was shouting inside “yes” like the gushing waves hitting the shores to come out of the ocean. Yet taking another step forward to share my pain with whom who wants to pour only love on us holds me back tightly. I sighed and continued, “Everything you said is just beyond words for me to express. However, what makes you think that I am right for you, is it all about Sarah?”. “Sarah is a part of you Candice, I will get back her for you. I know it is you are the one because I am the only customer who asks for chocos, besides brandy and you restock it all the weekends even though I annoy you”, he continued, “You never failed to ask what would I like to have every time before Nancy could, beyond that you remain as cool as ever when I flirt around with everyone except you”. “Mmm -mmm”, I hummed back nodding my head and turning up the corner of my mouth with a smile. “I also have no objection if you serve me Cognac in a cow girl dress”, he continued, “Also, I won’t disturb your pineapple pony even on bed, I swear!!!”. I chuckled and we both remained silent for a while, then the power came.

“So will you brew me coffee whenever I pour you Cognac”, he asked with a curious glance into my eyes. Without looking at him I went to the counter and started brewing some black coffee while I poured 30ml of Cognac in two new snifters each, poured 150ml of freshly brewed hot black coffee, stirred to dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in each glass then gently float two swirls of whipped cream garnishing it with a sprinkle of grated chocolate. I took the two glasses of freshly prepared Café Royale to the table where he was still watching me cluelessly and gave one to him in his hand. With a surprising smile on his face, he asked, “So, is this a …”, I interrupted saying “Yes”, nodding my head with tears filled eyes.

While we both were about to hit cheers with a whole complete smile, my phone rang as the new groom guy called to know my decision. He pulled my phone, swiped it to silent mode and said, “Ask him to go crucify himself”. We both laughed together and finished the rest of the café royale, while we had our last sip of the drink, the rays of sun started to fall upon us through the glass walls making the drink twinkle at its corner, he raised his glass holding my hand on the table saying, “I promise you that we will watch sun and the moon together as a family for our rest of our lives from this corner of the bar”.

.    .    .