The trash on the floor, mostly betting forms, is piled high, forcing the customers standing at the bar to wade around in it, kicking at it from time to time -- it sticks to their shoes. A little boy was crawling around in it, his mother at a nearby table calling for him to "Get up! Get up!" Some people are kicking through the trash as though there is possibly something valuable for them to find, a winning lottery ticket, perhaps. A Rapido sign above the table in front of me announces that there is a new set of winning numbers every five minutes; they are broadcast on a television monitor behind me.
The tables are round, cheap. The chairs are all wood with no cushions. A man throws a cigarette down near my left foot, still lit. Outside is a drizzle, not enough to warrant the opening of an umbrella, but the wetness has lightly coated the sidewalk and street.
A street cleaner, dressed in a green uniform and fluorescent vest and smoking a cigarette, buys something at the tabac counter -- he resembles Peter Weller slightly. Through the window I can barely see a man sitting several meters away at a table outside with something fuzzy and indistinguishable in front of him; it could be a stuffed animal or else a cactus, perhaps. It seems likely it is a teddy bear lying on its back, perpendicular legs in the air, because I can now perceive a small child sitting on the other side of the man; the child (of indeterminate sex) is frantically scribbling or coloring something.
For a while the place was noisy, packed with people, but now it is relatively empty, peaceful, though no one has yet made an effort to start sweeping the floor. The couple with the crawling child were sitting in front of me for a long time until the man finally received his lottery inspiration and they could make their play and then leave (though it could have just been time to go back to work). At one point the man's cell phone rang and he called into it "hello, hello" for quite a long time before finally giving up. But they have left and now a pensive, dark-haired man dressed in black and smoking a cigarette is sitting in their place. He is facing me, his head lightly resting in his left hand, his little finger thoughtfully poised at the corner of his mouth. Giving up on the service, he finally stands up and approaches the bar.
Now a balding man with a white shirt and a long blue apron is sweeping the floor, so I get a quick photo of the trash before he destroys the evidence.
Long tubes of pale pink fluorescent light run along the ceiling, angling around into geometric shapes. A woman pushes a stroller by on the sidewalk; it only contains a large stuffed animal that is big enough to have eaten the human child that may have previously occupied the vehicle, though it seems the woman in her daydream is unaware of the tragedy that has occurred.
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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