April in DJ’s Cafe — A Dream

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“April in DJ’s Cafe” — C.Birde, 10/16

 

Shut the car’s door. Leave it. Walk away. Cross the wide street, dodging traffic, darting between parked cars. Hands upon the door – glass cool beneath fingers’ touch. Enter the café. Pause to scan the interior from the threshold. Pendant lights shed a warm, welcoming glow over booths and small tables. Quiet murmur of conversations. Locate him. Seated in a bentwood chair, he leans forward, shirtsleeves rolled up, elbows on table. Across from him, on the upholstered bench, a second man nods, interjects, listens.

Descend three steps. Weave between tables clustered about the dark-tiled floor. Sit down on the bench nearest his table. Don’t interrupt – he discusses business. Also, the baby needs attention. Nine-month-old April. Balance her on one knee as you wait, hands spread to cup and support her small form. She is a contented froth of white-clad lace and ribbons, taffeta and crinolines.

Another woman, clad in crisp dark skirted suit and hat, slides down the bench, asks: “Do they have a date?”

A date? Search her face for understanding – skin thin as parchment, creased at the corners of her eyes, downward at her mouth’s edges. Her expression yields nothing. Scan the café again, observe the small clutches of people – mostly men discussing business. Observe the women – all plain-clothed, practical, narrow women. Women with infants of various ages. Women waiting. Nannies?

Tell her, “No. No date yet.”

The woman nods shrewdly, asks: “What are your hours?”

Tell her, “Mornings. Evenings. Most afternoons.” Hold April closer. Feel her warmth, her aliveness, the pleasing weight of her. Inhale the fresh infant scent of her.

The woman seems surprised, says: “I only have the day shift – that’s enough.”

Smile at her. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t know.

The men finish their discussion, rise to depart. Time to go. Lift April – taffeta crinkling – balance her on one hip. Follow the men around the tables, across the café, outside. Pause briefly to consider poster on wall – “DJ’s Café”; curling periwinkle and white paper on old brick.

Shoulder the door open. Step outside, into crisp Autumn. Realize the men have drawn away – across the street, into the dappled shade of the tree-lined park, brightly studded with the colored silk tents of a fair. Holding April close, hurry across the street to catch up. Lose sight of them amongst the shifting current of fairgoers and performers.

Wild Ride — A Dream

Nimbly, eagerly, the little car leaps forward when I depress the accelerator. I had forgotten how well this car suits me, how comfortable I feel in it and how it seems to respond to my very thought. Exiting the business complex’s driveway, I dart onto the empty main road, zip through the red light, and perform a fleet and elaborate K-turn at the intersection’s far side. But my plan to save time, to take advantage of the ‘right turn on red’ rule, is for naught – the light has turned green by the time I have the car fully rotated. Gunning the engine, the car’s tires squeal, but stick to and grip the road, send me racing around the corner. From the corner of my eye, I glimpse a spectacularly enormous pine tree, its limbs themselves the size of tree trunks. Can’t stop, no time to spare…

Immediately, the road curves sharply right and disappears under a skin of water far deeper than I realize. The little car throws up liquid sheets as we plunge onward, but my fierce and exhilarating journey slows, halts. The car’s engine sputters, and the cabin begins rapidly to fill. Pushing against the external flood, I force the door open to exit and am instantly soaked to the hips. At this point, I realize I have a passenger. I instruct her to help me lift the car – spreading our arms and placing three fingers from each hand beneath the car’s jack points, we easily lift and glide it along the water’s frictionless surface.

Reaching the flood’s far side, we set the little car down by the curb. It gushes water – from cabin and trunk, engine and wheel wells, from all its seams and depressions. Its heads are wet, and there’s water in the fuel tank. Walking away, I leave it on the roadside in the sun to dry out. It will be some time before it runs again.

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“Wild Ride” — C.Birde, 10/16