Coffee Shop Culture

cafe-terrace-at-nightWhen I walk into Lestat’s West at midnight, Aaron is on stage running through Mingus’ The Clown monologue, sans bass because Aaron’s right hand is atrophied at an angle and it’s presently difficult for him to play. He later recounts two stories, one in which he learned Satan’s Prayer before the Lord’s Prayer having played the Devil himself in a production of Marat/Sade; then, a more comical story of how he unwittingly cursed out Adrian Belew at a guitar camp when he was nineteen. (“Shut up, Old Man! Who the hell are you?”) We find we both have a love for Tom Waits, but can’t collectively remember where Waits was born.

“NewYork? Chicago? I guess he comes from every city—that’s kinduv the musician he is. Think I heard he was born in the back of a taxi cab or something,” Aaron says hands picking incessantly at his garments. (Waits is from Pomona, CA).

Trent, meanwhile, is rotund and red-cheeked, a 12 a.m. carnival barker with a Mobile accent and a broken volume knob, larger than life and convinced of God lest everything be just “too fucking weird.” He wears an undersized plaid button-up with protruding T-shirt sleeves, is remarkably well-shaven despite his otherwise shambolic appearance, and sports close-cropped hair set above a ruddy brow.

“There’s power in prayer,” he bellows, and I, for one, agree that the Universe operates on suggestibility. Signs and omens, omens and signs.

Sam is the seemingly spider-woven septuagenarian, replete with natty ascot. He resembles Martin Landau, though more anemic, temporal veins tributaries of blue. He sports two hearing aids and has a habit of talking mere inches from his intended audience. He is very tall—one has to look up when he is talking–the only thing not suggestive of height on his person is a meticulously flattened coiffure, near-gossamer threads swept low and to the right.

“I always keep a drunk between me and the bottle,” he says, in explanation of a long-term sobriety, “Meaning, my friend, I always have someone in the way of my scotch. And now I’ve made it, after all these years, to gainful unemployment.” He lifts his coffee mug in salud.

The moon is out and Gilbert, sweet Gilbert, points to it and says: “I was in the Outback a few years ago, and you know the moon is upside-down there because you’re on the bottom of the earth. And I’m alone in the Outback and it strikes me—it strikes me for the first time in my life beneath that upside-down moon—that I am here and belong to the whole of this humanity, that we are together, all here on this earth.”

His eyes brim, and the right-side up moon plays over the patio, and there is a nocturne here, midnight at the café´.


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