It all started from nothing, really. She had just thrown me out of the flat, and I was drifting down the sidewalk in a most exceptional daze. It was a strange sensation, not disappointment or sadness of any sort, just this blissful sense of surprised relief. I could hear the sounds of the city around me, the cars on the street, the buzzing hordes that swarmed along the cause, the general din, but it all blended together like spirits in a shaken martini, numbing the senses. I didn’t even notice the bustling café until I had bumped into the waitress and poured coffee down her placket.
“Oh, jesus, I’m so sorry.”
What separated it from a million other errors in judgment on my part, a thousand other mistakes, the hundred other times I tripped over myself and crashed headlong into the arms of impending disaster, was that rather than running away, I haltingly stood my ground. The waitress mopped at her blouse with a clean towel. I noticed that her eyes were the most curious shade of grey.
“Is this a café?” I asked. It sounded like a foolish question.
She forced a contrived smile. It was a foolish question, clearly giving away my delusional state. “Yes,” she said. She drew the word out in a gracious effort not to call my bluff. “You may sit any place you like.”
Apparently I wasn’t convinced. “Do you serve coffee?”
“Why yes.” Her initial dismissal of my insanity an obvious error, she held fast. I stuttered incoherently. It was a worthy maneuver under any circumstances.
“And wine? Do you serve wine?” I was a daunting foe.
“Of course, sir. Are you alright?”
“Why haven’t I been here before?”
“Perhaps you weren’t ready.” I stared at her. She was pleasant to look at, but I can recall but a single feature, the grey eyes. I can’t even be sure now she was real. She moved off to another table with perfect efficiency. The lady and gentleman seated there smiled warmly at her as if they were well met. Indeed they were.
The next thing, I found myself seated beside a steaming mug of shade-grown bean scribbling the final lines to the first haiku I’d seen since I met her. I don’t even like haiku. Still it came so fast, so easily; it couldn’t help but be written. I signed my name to it and threw it in the trash.
Art is in the process, not the product. Chris Stevens taught me that.