Eating Alone – A Modern Short Story

Upset at the lack of sunspot activity for the past few days, an event widely un-publicized in the mainstream, Franklin wrote a scathing review of the brunch he was currently not enjoying at Cafe Peeks. The critique started as a text to his childhood friend Tim Wonkowski who lived 5,000 miles away in Minnesota. The text read like this, ’20 mins 4 eggs? Come on!’

Tim answered Franklin’s text with an encouraging, ‘Bitch 2 manger’.

Franklin peered over the top of his phone at the closed kitchen door behind the barren restaurant counter. He typed without laughing, ‘Ha-ha!’.

Only a handful of round metal tables filled the one room of Cafe Peeks, tables not unlike what might be found in an English country side garden. The walls were white with fuzzy sequentially patterned wallpaper and knick-knack shelves littered with plastic flowers in blue vases.  A young woman sat alone with a book at the table opposite of Franklin. She had short red hair, black nail polish, and was waiting for a cappuccino she ordered just at the moment Franklin sat down.

‘Run!’ wrote Tim from Minnesota.

‘2 late,’ typed Franklin with his thumbs. ‘8 bredstik. Now stuck!’

The front door of the cafe opened and a thin silver bell at its corner jingled. Two men with starched collars and black leather shoes entered. They talked loudly, too loudly for Franklin, and stood by the barren counter. The young woman with the black fingernails looked up from her book. She had a soft distant expression on her face, the blind stare of one who had been reading for some time and needed a moment to realize where the sounds and lights came from.  She saw Franklin at the table across from her, sighed, and opened her book once more to begin the next page.

The kitchen door moved and a young waitress stepped out at a rapid pace. She carried before her a tall glass with brown creamy coffee on a white ceramic plate. Next to the glass was a cookie, a tea spoon, and brown sugar cubes in a white bowl. Franklin raised his eyebrows. The waitress placed the white plate and coffee glass down on the metal table in front of the red haired woman, wiped her left hand on her black pant legs and then returned to the kitchen. Franklin lowered his eyebrows.

“Excuse me? Lady?” called one of the men with leather shoes who wore a heavy watch on his wrist. The other man laughed and whistled after the waitress. The kitchen door closed.

“What the hell?” said the man with the watch.

“Come on,” said the other.

They left and the silver bell above the cafe door jingled.

“That’s it,” thought Franklin. “Time for a scathing review. I will destroy this cafe. Zero stars and four unhappy faces in a row. Not everything can be blamed on the lack of sunspots. Not everything.”

Franklin texted the idea to Timothy who wrote back that he should, once again, ‘Run’.

From behind his phone, as the red haired woman read and mindlessly stirred brown sugar into her coffee, Franklin glanced towards the kitchen door. It was closed. He opened the phone’s browser to access his free account at iFoodReview.com. The website remembered his user name and secured password and this made Franklin feel very pleased and self-assured. He pressed the screen where a blue button read, ‘New Post’.

5,000 miles away in Minnesota, Timothy turned off his bedside lamp and closed his eyes.

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