Friday, 30 December 2011

A Cup of Coffee

Lizzie has honest eyes, but she tries to hide them, and her face, in thick make up. She knows that the natural beauty she has is better than the made up beauty she gives to the world. But there is no other way. She has to be made up, the way a hooker is supposed to be. No one will think of her as a hooker if she just looks like a girl who is too confident of her natural beauty. So, she makes it a point to have the flirty scarlet and pink lipsticks and super shiny gloss ever ready in her clutch purse. Her eyes are always drowned in kohl. She experiments with various skimpy dresses and always sports nine inch stilettos. She eats a lot of chocolate, but is able to stay in shape, for her age. She has bad ankles and dry skin, and her eyes water too much. She has to pay a lot for the hair remover to give her legs a decent look. But who cares?

John is waiting for her near the department store. He is the first one who is seeing her for more than a week. That is, it’s been a little more than a week since they met, and he hasn’t dumped her yet. It’s almost like going on steady with someone, though she knows that it isn’t going to be. He is to the heavier side, the kind the guy from the ghetto would make fun of. She had the shock of her life when she ended up in the ghetto last month. She never imagined that handsome guy in the mall to be from the ghetto. He wore a clean white t-shirt and new denim jeans. But his den was horror of horrors. Anyway, he was a decent chap. He didn’t harm her, though he rambled on about the hypocrisy of the world that excluded him. Excluded him from what? She never considers herself to be excluded from anything, anywhere. There is a space for her everywhere. They just use her for their pleasure, she knows that. But she knows how to exploit them as well. Everybody around is exploiting everybody else, she knows that for sure. So, what’s wrong with being a hooker for a while, she thinks.

She throws a smile at John and they start walking towards the next street. There is a moment of silence before John says, “I write smut stories in the nights. I’m an insomniac, of sorts.”

“You should let me read them someday”, Lizzie says for the sake of it. She doesn’t like reading smut stories. It’s too much of one thing or the other, and always from the male viewpoint. She wondered why people cared for them these days. But John says that they are back in the market, and he can even make a living writing them, if he left his day job.

John is ugly. That’s what she thinks. Nothing comparable to the guy from the ghetto. She wasn’t going to settle down in the next few years, but when she saw that guy, she thought she wouldn’t mind marrying someone like him. But he was from the ghetto. What a room he had! Not even a place to sit, just a decayed chair and the floorboards all agape. And that grey tomcat on the window and its menacing look. She felt relieved, whenever she thought about how she was out of it faster than she imagined. He said he respected her profession, and knew that he was not an ideal client for her. One must respect such an attitude, but what a place where he lived!

She makes a deliberate effort to hold John’s reluctant hand. He just wants to escape from the crowd, and conversation is just an excuse to divert attention from the uneasiness. “Shall we have some coffee?” she asks. She genuinely needs to drink something.

“I can make it for you at home,” he says as she is almost dragged through the street. Lizzie just goes mindlessly in the direction he pulls her. She knows that this is to end soon, but wonders why he turns up every evening, near the department store.

The guy from the ghetto was right, to an extent. She’s getting abused, royally, on a daily basis. Here’s a guy who writes smut stories in the nights, after abusing her. Just another one. She wonders why she doesn’t feel like the guy from the ghetto. Perhaps she belongs to a different creed altogether. The guy from the ghetto can make it big if he wants to be, but he’s deliberately staying away from opportunities. He bites his anger down as he plays basketball, all by himself. Just like the way she bites her pride down every time she is reminded that her services are paid. Just a cup of coffee is what she needs now, but he’s reluctant to have it with her in a public place. It’s not good for him to be seen with her for five minutes in a place where people may identify him. She just walks, or lets herself dragged, through the street.

“You know John, I must write stories too.”

“Really? Smut stories?”

“No. I won’t think of it. It’s for men. Only men.”

“Who told you so? You must read mine. Anyone can enjoy them.”

“I am thinking of writing stories no one can enjoy reading.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Yes, I am.”

John slows down a bit, sensing something wrong in her tone.

“Hey, what’s wrong? You’re not feeling well?”

“Did I say that?”

John looks at her face and starts walking faster.

“John, you enjoy this, eh?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“But your hands are cold, and reluctant.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I doubt whether you enjoy this walk. It takes a long time to reach your room.”

“I’m waiting to reach there” he says, with a naughty smile.

“I would have enjoyed this walk, but it’s not so...and I would walk till the end of the world if we weren’t to reach that room, ever.”

John stops again. He looks closely at Lizzie’s face and withdraws his hand from her.

“Lizzie, are you saying that you don’t need to come with me today?”

“Yes”, she says, nonchalantly. “Not today, and never again.”

“Okay. There you go. Is there anything I can do for you now?”

“Nothing. Thanks for everything.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“I’m just going to have a cup of coffee from here. Bye.”

“Well, may I come with you? Are you alright?”

“No. Sorry, too late.”

She turns away swiftly from John and walks into the cafeteria. She feels free. She feels like that guy from the ghetto.


Note: This story is an independent one, though there is an earlier story by me, A Casual Encounter, to which you can connect the part about the ghetto man. However, it is not necessary to read that story to understand this one, because the fragmentary thoughts in the mind of Lizzie about this man is made deliberately so. The link is for those who are curious about the life of the ghetto man.

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  1. A story that highlights the sense of individuality latent in all people irrespective of conditions, surfacing at seemingly odd times and in unpredictable ways.A masterful capture of the complex mechanism of the mind. Well done!

  2. I really liked the clever way you connected this to one of your previous pieces. It shows real understanding of the human condition...that sense of dislocation and desire for connection.

  3. Hi, Jose. Sorry for being sooo late in visiting your blog. Btw, reading Martha's comment, can you give the link of your previous story that is connected with this? To be honest, I felt like there is something missing... The man from the ghetto! I'm really curious about him. ^^

  4. Dear friend,

    Please do see the Note I added at the end of the story. It contains the link to the previous story.

    I deliberately made the picture of the ghetto man hazy, but I don't expect you to go back to the previous story to understand this. It is just another incident from the man's perspective. But you can read it, of course, if you are curious about that too :)


  5. I like the way she was able to say no, walk away, and finally be her own self. :)