Scattered And With Good Reason.

A Work of Fiction by Andrew S.

Near as I could figure, (when I thought about it, if I thought about it, but more when I thought about it) there were about two types of ways to kill a man.

With cause, and without. What else could there be?

Sure, you’ve probably got some other suggestion--and good for you, you’re real smart. I’m not, I’m black and white. I like eggs and not pancakes. Screw you smart guy.


It was a tiny Cafe I was in, not more than 25 or so seats and they were all stuffed into a room probably built for 15. I wondered where they get this stuff. There has to be a catalogue where you can send away for steel chairs with ruby red, shiny plastic backing and four-legs with a discount if you order....more than 15. I had a friend once told me there are people’s job it is to look at a room and not decorate it, but think about how it should be spaced. How things could be best placed. A Visual Architect, he called it. I thought at the time it sounded like a bunch of people trying to justify their subscription to The Saturday Evening Post.

Right about now though, it sounded like a damn fine profession. Chair here, and not there. I could do that.

I looked down at myself. Well, what parts of myself there was to look-down at anyway. I tried to appear (to who? the waitress? the grease-cook in back I’ll never see?) like I was glancing around casually, but I was taking stock of it all.

And I knew everyone knew it. A man in a three-piece suit with wing-tips doesn’t eat eggs after mid-night and before 5 unless something got in the way of it. That truth, at least, remained alive.

There they were, two legs (such as they were), connected to two feet by way of two ankles. Throw in some knees, a couple square feet of a skin, some hairs I couldn’t rightly attest to the color of....and I guess you’ve about got the picture. Even in this 25 seat, formica panelled grease-joint, it could be worse. Measurably worse, I could have been able to determine my leg-hair color.


I looked at the clock, 3:30am. The air in the place was yellow and pregnant with the time. It’s hard to pin-point the exact feeling times have on air. Tough to put words to it anyway, but anyone who’s known 5:30pm on Friday knows for sure that now ain’t then.

Small spots of yesterday’s jam were tattooed to my table and a black, quad-stacked, jelly-susan appeared to be my only company. Great, I thought, a before and after picture.

There was suddenly a lot of time to think, to remember. Being muscle in this town didn’t exactly afford a lot of reading or reflecting time nor did it really require it. Though I always thought knowing that you read left to right kept me at least a cut-above the other riff-raff.

What did it make me now? Just another guy who used a napkin for a bookmark and actually read the assignments in high school. How do you do, I’m John Harvard.

The thing about this time of the morning is how important it all seems. Everyone, I think, feels a little victory for even being awake. It’s somehow time you’ve earned, you’re off the clock and so is everyone else. Nothing is expected of you at that time of night, the time is purely your own. For better or (usually) worse, every epiphany is enhanced.

Did you know 24 Hour Cafes were in the business of buttering the toast for the Brain Trust Late Shift? You got time and a half on weekends I hear, though I’ll have to phone up the union to confirm.

I took a long, slow drag on a cigarette I had all but forgot I lit. The flame flirted with the rigid cylinder of the thing, pushing it back. The coffee here was bad, real bad, but I ordered it anyway. Half out of habit, half because I was enjoying being a cliche.

Coffee and a cigarette, shit. How do you do, I'm Humphrey Bogart.

The coffee came in a white, porcelain cup that The Red, Slick-Back Chair, Inc. company probably sells in bulk too. When I grabbed it, for the first time in my life I looked at that cup and saw all of the other lips on it. Every single customer. From Abraham to Jesus. Could have been a President drank from that cup, probably did.

Which meant, here I was drinking the President’s coffee. Apologies sir, I’ll have it back immediately. Abrupt endings were my style anyway. Especially after the night I just had.