A Last Order

The downtown café was known for a lot of things: a blind pianist, freshly brewed coffee, Marinara sauce, paella cooked from really big pans.  Muffins, too, and cakes.  Nobody goes to a café to look for a waitress and propose happily ever after, but then again…

Say what you will about the pecan cupcakes, but it was Selene who brought the customers in.  It was her cheery smile that was the reason many office workers went there for a coffee or a snack.  It was romance for every male customer who was charmed and smitten by Selene.  “Coffee, sir?  What about juice?  Anything else?  Enjoy the night!”

The trick, I guess, was to give your order as slowly as possible.  Take your time.  If you’re good enough, you can sneak in that piece of paper where you scrawled your home address and contact number into the billfold.

The place always closes at 10, but there’s always that one customer at the back who always seems to leave last.

“A last order, sir?”  Raymond suddenly sat up straight.  He was like a deer – no, a chipmunk – caught in the headlights when Selene asked him for anything other than an order for coffee, juice, anything else, and a greeting to enjoy the night.  He clutched his briefcase and looked up at the charming waitress.

“Yeah… uh, no.  I’m just about to leave but…”  I think he wanted to say something profound, but he can’t.  Not in front of the waitress he was crushing on.  No, not when you’re supposed to have this air of respectability about you if you work as an accountant at a firm in the downtown area.  Not when you turned one of the tables into an informal office, working on those books, just because you want to be inspired by that waitress gracefully walking around the restaurant taking everyone’s order, with that same smile, with that same sway to her hips, with that same aura about her that makes you not second-guess why you’re always – always – falling in love with her.  “Yeah, coffee.”

And so it went on.

“A last order, sir?”

“Yeah… uh, no.  I’m just about to leave but… yeah, iced tea.”

It went on again.

“A last order, sir?”

“Yeah… uh, no.  I’m just about to leave but… yeah, I’ll try the mango smoothie.”

And freaking on, but damn, the script’s getting good.

“A last order, sir?”

“Yeah… uh, no.  I’m just about to leave but… yeah, I’d like a double-shot espresso, and that last slice of Black Forest.”

Pretty soon, Raymond was ordering all sorts of dishes and delights from the restaurant.  The citrus tarts, the lemon meringue pie, carbonara and a glass of Armagnac.  It was a whole new different deal since that first cup of coffee.  He kept ordering and ordering and ordering until one day…

“A last order, sir?”

This time, Raymond was silent as he placed a small brown envelope inside the billfold.

Selene opened the envelope in a rush, and found what looked like one of those cheesy romantic greeting cards at the bookstore, but it wasn’t those cheap thoughtless knockoffs for Valentine’s Day or your girlfriend’s birthday.  This particular one must cost an arm and a leg compared to those things.

The cardboard imitated seashell, the embossed white roses gilded with gold and red glitter.  There were two parchment leaves that had delicately printed doves; the birds seemed like spirits ready to fly out of the page.  Yet it simply wouldn’t be a greeting card without those prefabricated poems.  The familiar lines of Christopher Marlowe: “Where both deliberate, the love is slight; Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?”

There was something written at the bottom of the nauseatingly romantic greeting card.  “Patiently written,” if there’s such a description.  It didn’t look like one of those lazy scrawls on cards given to girlfriends in a rush, or “just because.”

My dearest Selene.

My last order, after six sweet years.

I love you… always and forever.

Will you marry me?

Yours for a lifetime,

Raymond.

I placed the card back from where I found it: that old, worn photo album, fresh with the memories of 26 years.

POSTSCRIPT: Blog flash fiction, bleh… I have a lot of work to do if I’m gonna get good at this.  This is what happens when you play those Flash-based search stuff in a pile of junk games.  So OK, I fictionalized a lot of stuff, and “Raymond” and “Selene” aren’t their real names.  Yet they’re still married, 26 years to this very date.

And to my Mom and Dad, happy wedding anniversary.  – Marocharim

2 thoughts on “A Last Order

  1. oh yeah. it *is* flash fiction. hardly noticed… ^^;;

    the last line came as a surprise… didn’t feel like the narrator had any real personal connection to the main characters. raymond and selene didn’t stand out as three-dimensional human beings, either… distinguishing mannerisms/character traits would probably do the trick ^^ you do have a lot of work ahead of you, but i’m looking forward to it 😀

    1. tina:

      yeah, lots of work ahead of me. as an “excuse” i think i really have problems fleshing out characters within the limit of a blog entry… no, wait, i do that all the time. thanks for the advice.

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