Chapter 5

Written by: Linda Alley

Rain was still bleeding down the windows of Deb’s Café in thick torrents. A glimmer of lightning illuminated its patrons. By the coffee machine, Miss Day paused for a moment as the flash caught a faint metallic gleam, half-hidden beneath the jacket of the man opposite. 

'Was it? No, absurd!' She knew she shouldn’t have stayed up so late watching that movie. 'People like that did not come to places like this. And yet…'

***

Powell smirked at the inevitable clap of thunder that followed. With any luck it would muffle the sounds. 

The glass door swung open and a blotchy-faced youth scuttled inside, his suit clinging to him like a second skin. Pumping water from an inside-out umbrella, he splashed his way to the counter rubbing a fist across his greasy forehead as he struggled to recite a long list of coffees. 

“Double espresso with one sugar, flat white with soy milk. No, sorry. Almond milk.”

Powell’s lips curled as he drained his flat white. These days every second person fancied they had a food intolerance. As if it would somehow make life itself more tolerable. And yet…his gaze fell on two heavily pregnant women in yoga pants.

“…and she didn’t realise she’d sent it to the whole company…”

They fell about laughing, swollen breasts straining against spandex. 'No, life’s first cafes and their customers had not been so fastidious about their milk,' Powell ruminated, his thoughts drifting dangerously towards his own mother. 

Another flash of lightning drew his eyes to his discarded phone on the table. This wouldn’t do. He couldn’t delay any longer. 

He did a final scan of the café. There was always someone who tried to be a hero. His success depended on picking them out beforehand. His gaze left the mums-to-be and passed over Mr Continental Slice who had dozed off in his chair, his bloated belly spilling onto the table like pale plasticine.

Powell’s eyes rested on the tradesman in his fluorescent vest, broad shoulders hunched over a plate that overflowed with chips. Calloused fingers gripped the tomato sauce bottle and squeezed with such force that half of its contents oozed onto his pie. 'Definitely someone to keep at 180 degrees,' Powell decided.

At the table beside him, a geriatric refilled her cup, fossil-like hands trembling slightly as she lifted the flowery teapot. There was a movement from the basket at her feet. The tartan blanket emitted a low growl as a squashed snout and bared teeth emerged.

Powell felt a sudden childish urge to growl back. That pug-face would be the first to get a bullet in it. Animals could be even more of a liability than children.

He was suddenly aware that Miss Day was watching him curiously. 'God! Had he actually bared his own teeth?' Now, she was leaving the counter. Picking up an empty metal tray, she walked determinedly towards him. There was something very forced about her smile.

Comments

The description in this chapter is crafted with unforgettable care, each word cleverly placed and building imagery that creates a whole picture. You can see the macro from the micro - calloused hands gripped the tomato sauce bottle.