A Story by Daniel DiQuinzio
Simone dropped her black pen near the open notebook and closed the several hardcover books arranged around her on the white table. With them were the white and yellow lined legal pads that she preferred using for research for the final papers for the two graduate classes, she was taking at her university. Over the seat was thrown her dark green windbreaker while her brown messenger bag lay at the table legs marking the seat as hers. She walked by the rows of tables and the booths resting on the elevated level near the café’s long windows to the café’s counter with her empty white coffee cup. “Can I help you?” Ivor, one of the café’s baristas asked.
Simone bent forward in her gold tipped high heels and black slacks presenting her cup. “Could I get a refill please?”
“Would you like anything in it?”
A pink finger tapped the buttons on her shirtsleeve while Simone mulled over her options. “Just room for milk please.”
“Are you sure you don’t want any cream or sugar?”
“No just milk. I ate so much tuna salad and egg salad at the symposium on film history a few days ago that now I’m having to cut back so I don’t pack on even more extra pounds on to my body that I did at lunch that day.”
Ivor removed the dome lid that was coated with brown stains from leaking coffee. He pushed the cup under a nozzle on the café’s coffee maker. He pressed down on the appropriate button releasing a long spray of hot light black liquid. When the liquid neared the brim, he removed his fingertip. The residual stream of coffee dissipated after several seconds.
“Do you have fat free milk today?”
“We’re all out right now. “
“What about two percent?
“Any low fat milk?”
“Just half and half, whole and skim milk.”
“I’ll go fill it up with skim milk.” Her hand patted her side to emphasize her dieting. Her plaid buttoned shirt clung a bit more to her flesh then normal while the same could be said about how her pants hung at her waist. “My regular choices of milk have to many calories for me to add to the my second cup of coffee today.”
‘I’m sure you’ll burn the extra weight off in a few more days of doing laps at the track and using the weight machines.”
“With the amount of caffeine I’m drinking this week I’ll have probably packed on even more pounds. But it’s sweet of you to think that.” She smiled. Ivor pushed a new lid on the brim of the cup. The old one went into the large trashcan that was stashed under the counter. He quickly checked that were no other customers waiting behind Simone leaving him free to causally talk with her for a few more minutes. She was aware of this.
“How is your final paper for the graduate section of Doctor Chen’s class coming along?” She asked.
“Pretty good. I’m writing the rough draft right now. The research is going good. But, I’m waiting on the undergraduate work study students at the library who are still trying to find this one book I put a hold on through the library’s website last week.”
“Are you sure they have this book?”
“The online catalogue on the library website lists it as being available in the stacks and I saw it on the fourth floor the day before I placed the hold. I also checked it about a month ago and then returned it thinking I could check it out again if necessary. How’s your paper going?”
“I’ve got ten pages written on the computer and I want to ideally write another five this week so my draft of the paper will be fifteen pages long. Then I can hopefully, have a few rounds of editing completed before he wants us to submit the draft on the 18th of this month.”
Ivor handed her the refilled cup. “I’m sure your have it done by the time he wants use to submit our rough drafts of the paper.” Ivor entered her order into the small desktop computer screen that served as the control for the cash register. “That will be two fifty.”
Simone handed him her blue debit card. The magnetic strip clicked as he ran it through the strips on the digital reader producing a small chirp. Ivor tore the printed receipt from the rather small printer attached to the register. Simone took it and the coffee. “Be careful.” Ivor commented. “Its hot.”
“If it starts leaking I’ll take into the women’s room and empty some of it down the drain in of the sinks before I add any milk to it. It was sweet for you to wish me luck on the papers.” Her shoes pivoted away and then switched back making slight circular indentations on the blue carpet fibers with the points and the heel of her shoes. “Do you have anything planned for this weekend Ivor?”
“Just reading for class and working on those papers.”
“Same here.” Simone toyed at her shirtsleeve with an oiled and polished fingernail. “Are you doing anything this Saturday night?”
“Only editing one of the final papers while drinking a beer and watching the Nets Game on the small television set in my apartment.”
“Who are they playing against this weekend?”
“The Chicago Bulls. Hopefully the Nets will win and turn around the continuous losing streak they’ve been on for the last part of this season.”
“Didn’t they get a new head coach at the start of this season?”
“Yes. It’s the third one the general manager brought in over the last three years.”
‘That’s part of why they’ve been doing so badly. They’ve haven’t possessed a stable roster or couching staff for the last few years.” Simone moved closer bending towards the register. She changed the topic of conversation. “This regional up and coming local jazz trio is playing at the Side Tap Tavern in Summit that night. Would you like to go and watch them play with me?”
“That sounds fun. I guess you want to do dinner as well?”
“At the tavern while the band performs their sets.”
“I look forward to it. When does their performance start?”
“When do you want me to pick you up?”
“I was just going to take the train over to Summit. It’s a lot easier to just walk to the tavern from the Summit rail station in my high heels and my nice dress and jacket. If I drive into downtown Summit, where the Side Tap Tavern is located, I have to confront the difficulty of trying to find a parking spot during the evening rush hour traffic.”
“Isn’t there public parking there?”
“Mostly at the Summit train station and its parking lots will be clogged with motorists waiting to pick people up from the evening trains.”
“Then I’ll take N.J. transit down to Hoboken, pick you up at your apartment and walk with you back to the Hoboken train station so we can take the train down to Summit and walk from there to the tavern.”
Simone tilted her neck flicking her black eye lashes. “Its very sweet of you to offer.” She replied shaking her hair. Her pink lips curled. “But, you don’t have to escort me to our date.”
“No but, picking a girl up is the gentlemanly thing to do especially when a guy is taking a girl out for the night. What time do you want to get to the tavern?”
“ I was thinking around 7 this Saturday.”
“I’ll pick you up around 5:30 then.”
‘That’s sweet of you. Thank you for the refill.”
“Good luck on the papers.”
“Thank you.” Simone purred. Her feet swerved back around on the carpet causing the point sand heels on her shoes to make a second set of indentations in the carpet beneath her feet. “I’ll see you on Saturday.” She said in parting before flashing him a quick smile as she went to add milk to her second cup of coffee for the afternoon.
Daniel DiQuinzio is currently a student at Seton Hall University where he is studying his Master’s thesis in History and Military. A graduate of Temple University, he is also a poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in various publications including Spotlight on Recovery, Parle Magazine, Tymes and Sisyphus Quarterly, The Minority Report, Bull Magazine, and The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.