by Tom Mahony
buzzed with activity. Patrons ordered coffee,
rustled newspapers, chatted in corners. But Jack
focused only on the girl. She sat at the counter
reading a magazine. One of those sensationalized
news weeklies. Jack never followed the news, but
respected those who did.
over. Jack smiled, a bit toothy. She smiled back
and returned to her magazine. She had creamy skin,
angular features, a lazy cascade of raven hair.
The type of girl he pictured on a plaza bench in
some hard-to-pronounce eastern European country.
in his seat from too much coffee. He wanted to
talk with her, but needed to take a leak.
Desperately. The bathroom was tucked down a
corridor on the far side of the café. By the
time he returned, she might be gone. San
Francisco was a big city. Hed never see her
He fidgeted at
the table, uncertain. She glanced over and fixed
her brown eyes upon him. He loved brown eyes. She
smiled and turned away. Was that an invite to
approach? He became increasingly enamored of her
quiet intensity, how she licked her finger before
turning a page, the pooch of her lips as she read.
Enamored of the fate that brought them together.
This girl was
meant for him. Jack felt it deep, true. Where
could this go? Courtship, marriage, children,
grandchildren? From this beginning, a profound
altering of the future. What if their daughter
became president? Grandson cured cancer or walked
on Mars? Big things emerged from small beginnings.
He gnawed on a
bagel. It had the consistency of pine heartwood.
Some guy at the adjacent table yelled into a cell
phone, shouting the kind of intimacies Jack would
not dare reveal in his own closet, let alone a
room full of strangers.
Jack was torn.
Approach her now or relieve himself first? This
decision had implicationsfor the future of
politics, medical science, space exploration. He
had to speak with her. But his bladder ...
Unable to wait
any longer, he stood, hurried to the bathroom,
and took care of business. He washed his hands
and slicked his hair in a way that made him look
groomed but vaguely stupid. He made adjustments.
Better, but still a little stupid. It would have
He returned to
his table, feeling pleasantly drained. He eyed
the counter. The girl was gone. He scanned the
café. No sign of her. Dammit. His heart sank.
His life, and that of the planet, was irreparably
altered. He forced down more coffee, glum, trying
to ignore the ravings of the cell phone idiot.
Time to go.
As he stood to
leave, a tall blonde entered the café. She
strolled by and smiled at him. Well, well,
whats this? Her lips were full, her green
eyes vulnerable. He loved green eyes.
Jack sat down.
The café buzzed with activity. Patrons ordered
coffee, rustled newspapers, chatted in corners.
But he focused only on the girl.