4 a.m. in a cafe

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4 a.m. in a cafe

Post  M. Smith on Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:12 pm

That's not the title of this, it's the writing prompt I responded to. Unfortunately I haven't been doing much self-inspired work lately, or at least nothing that merits a post here. Anyway, without further ado...I wrote this last night.


It unnerved him to see the glow of his watch strobe back and forth in the dimness, not only because it indicated his hand was shaking but also because he couldn’t read the time. “Cool it, damn you,” he muttered, pushing away his third espresso of the night and pinching the screen with two fingers for stability. There it was. 4:14. Just as he thought. A sign from above.

“Dearest Jackie.” He’d gotten as far as the salutation in three hours at an empty cafe. Now, inspired, he began to scrawl sentences as if tumors yanked from his heart, moving faster with each blink of the colon on the dazzling screen, because time was ticking and this wouldn’t last much longer. “I remembered your birthday. It’s April the fourteenth. Two months later here I am in the corner of an all-night coffee closet and the flight leaves in the morning. I don’t want to go to Denver, Jackie. I belong with you but you’re in the ground. I belong with you.”

The pencil tip snapped. He sat motionless, drinking in the interruption. He didn’t have another pencil.

“Anything wrong, fella?” The barista yawned from the bar, eye-deep in his own cup of French roast. “Ah, the pencil. I probably got more.”

“No thanks,” he responded without thinking. “It’s time for me to hit the hay anyway. I just needed a head start.”

4:15, said the twinkling eye. He’d missed it. He gathered his things and left, visibly jittery but his jaw set, and it took thirty minutes for the barista to notice the loaded gun lying on the table. “Godforsaken graveyard shift...”

As the plane lifted off he finished the letter. “I thought only the police would ever read this but maybe I’ll send it after all. Happy belated birthday.”

M. Smith

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