Inspired by a lunch in a cafe in Buenos Aires on a rainy Sunday last week with our beautiful daughter Emily.
The door opened with a crash, almost falling off its weather worn hinges as the crowd poured in laughing and chattering, shaking off the rain soaked unberellas as they did so. The hubbub instant, bringing life to the quiet little back street cafe in St Telmo.
He sat in the corner with a strong black coffee and a forlorn look. Hardly raising his eyes up from his paper as the crowd grabbed chairs and the waitress made a fuss, dropping menus on the tables they had commandeered. He lit a cigarette and turned another page.
He wasn’t bothered by them, he knew their sort. He had seen the like before. He didn’t care for their bourgeois ways, their fat wallets and their enlightened views. It was all false homage to the movement, idealistic and modern. He knew they would all be the same, they would all cry Peron’s name and then run when the Generals iron fist choked the life out of them.
Chairs scraped against the wooden floor and coats were hooked under the table. He counted ten of them altogether. They passed around cigarettes as a pitcher of wine appeared and tumblers were caught to much delight.
He looked up from his paper as his table was knocked and his coffee cup rattled in its saucer. She spoke but two words.
‘ Sorry sir’
He looked up into her eyes. She smiled at him and sat down on the empty chair at the table, fished a packet of cigarettes out of her bag and held one to her lips.
Her smile filled her face, it seemed to fill the room. Bright red lipstick, auburn hair under a green beret. She took off her raincoat and he caught her perfume; expensive, French.
He picked up his lighter from the table and offered it to her. She cupped the flame with bright red nails on slender fingers. When she inhaled she smiled again and glanced over at her friends at their tables.
‘ sorry for the noise. We have just come from the Rose Palace. She still won’t say yes, but I understand why. That lot think she’s deserting them, they don’t understand, they all think she has no balls.
He put his coffee cup down but he couldn’t take his eyes from her face.
‘They will kill her if she says yes, but it will kill her husbands career if she says no’ he said. ‘So what would you do if you were her?’ He looked into her eyes. He could see she did not hesitate.
‘ That’s easy. I would say yes’.
‘ And end your husbands career?’ He challenged her.
‘ If my husbands career depended upon my gift of power then he is not worthy of that gift or of my love. The people want to believe, how can they believe in a man who wins by his wife’s failure.
She stood up and nodded to him and started to return to her friends.
‘ And you…. do you have a man that would give you love in such a way?’
She laughed, her face a picture of joy.’ When I do he will have to be a saint to put up with me’ As she turned and walked off she looked back ‘ what is your name?’
‘ They call me Christopher – like the Saint’.
She grinned back at him. ‘ Well Saint Christopher, perhaps we will meet again on your travels’.
He smiled back.
He would make sure they did.