One of the smokier cafés I've been in -- making one's way past the game machines and smoking hopefuls staring up at the Rapido lottery screens is like walking through a fog bank. The air of the section I'm in, small round brown tables with dark wooden chairs next to the windows, is not quite so thick. Each table has an orange plastic Rapido ashtray except the one to my right, which is flavored black Marlboro.
It took a long time for the waiter to show up. When he finally came by, he startled me -- I had so completely forgotten I hadn't yet ordered anything that I probably emitted a small cry of surprise. He gave me two packets of sugar cubes with my espresso.
Four men sit on the other end of this section; they've been chatting comfortably for a while. Each one has a different color coat: tan, blue, gray, and brown. One of the men has a soft black hat that sticks up, and another has a small close-fitting round black and yellow hat.
On the walls are matted and framed black and white photos of various jazz musicians. The two closest to me have names superimposed onto the bottom of the photos: James Moody, Chet Baker. Above one of the pictures is a World War II memorial plaque and a bouquet of dead flowers, the plastic wrapping ringed with blue, white and red.
Sugar: two packets of sugar cubes
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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