It was 9:44pm when she rushed through the double-doors, hoping to get a chat with the guy behind the bar, near closing time. The hostess was gracious and showed no urgency to her last-minute guest who had become a regular at the establishment; They both knew her reasons for being there had nothing to do with the fare.
The disgruntled waiter passed by, pushing a spare wooden chair back to its designated area near the podium to the entrance. The pressed patron had thought that he’d seat her, but no effort was made to encourage such a stay.
The couple who had just arrived, minutes before her, cozied up to the counter, all smiles with wonderment towards the novelty who stood before them.
The late-comer took a seat at the bench near the exit and waited for the right time to make her appearance. She had suddenly turned into a reluctant spy as the planter, above her head, camouflaged her existence to the one of her desire.
She watched as chairs were flipped on to table tops and end-of-night tips were divided amongst the servers who were free to leave.
The only ones left were the three at the heart of the room, illuminated by the bulb above them, like a spotlight, in the dark space surrounded by warm, brick-red tile.
Laughter erupted from the group as the witty foreigner sported his charm, in hopes of a generous gratuity and speedy parting by satisfied customers.
“What brings you here?” was one of the questions asked by the vegetarian, 20-something duo made up of a waif-like girl with dark-rimmed glasses and hipster boyfriend who sported a Greek moniker, skinny jeans and tousled, curly, brown hair. The first-timers to the spot were referring to why the import, standing before them, had come to the States.
The responses to their inquiries were very vague… mostly filled with chuckles and evasive banter by the mysterious man who focused on his life in Australia unaware that he was under surveillance by the girl at the door.
She, the eavesdropper with a blocked view, tried to remain inconspicuous while straining to listen to the group’s conversation as “goodbyes” were being said by the front-of-house staff. Her heart grew heavy to know what the object of her affection wasn’t saying to the strangers.
He wasn’t mentioning her.
The trio’s exchange continued for 25 minutes with infused anecdotes of the host’s travels. It was obvious that the sweethearts were engaged by his words and fondness for the land “down under”. This only fueled the hipster’s curiosity.
“So, why did you come here then!?”
She was still listening at the door while pretending to play on the phone. Her stomach clenched in knots and eyes slightly moistened to hear her troubled soul’s final admission, disguised as a jest at the bar:
“I made a mistake” he said, “I got on the wrong plane.”
©2012 Heidi Rodney-Nakanishi and ChocolateGeisha Spills the Sake!™