Saturday, 5 February 2011

Espresso Ghetto--The Bikeman

(Different in Person)

"Choke on your skinny soy latte bitch," he whispered as the shot dribbled into the cup. The steam from the machine was loud enough to drown out his dislike for his customers....people with handbags that matched their suit/skirt combos.....people with pets they carried in their handbags....people without pets who obviously spent a fortune on dog walkers.....people with ornate wallets which only contained credit cards even though they were just buying an apple.....people with special orders and dietary concerns.....they all bothered him. He was not a nutritionist. He was not a barrista either and this was not his coffee shop.

Flecks of caffeine stained his apron. He could only smile for a few customers. It was a quick smile; something he had learned from a book on how to influence people. He kept it next to his law books and opened it for a light laugh when he was tired of the fine print. He saw her and frowned as he tried to remember the page.

Today, he was using a template. He shook  the little bits of flaked chocolate through the sieve....such a girly thing to have to do. He left her with a powdered heart and a smile. It sunk into the foam as she licked around the edges of his design trying to keep his pattern in tact. "So talented," she thought. It warmed her hand as she walked out the door. "I'll see her again," he thought. She was his instant boost of caffeine. She gazed at the foam on her creamy latte while it cooled.

There was the Bikeman....first thing in the morning. He grated on her g-spot like a potent espresso. He was much hotter and came without a warning label. He had a cool side too. He was a pleasant person, concerned about the environment; over-farming, over-fishing. She gave out an inaudible bleep as she passed by. He seemed the sort that might stop and help a tangled lamb stuck on a barbed wire fence. She was feeling woolly, but he was not the type to read a book on how to make somebody smile.

He was just undoing the padlock on the shop front door. A simple activity, but she liked to watch him do that. She wanted to pull up a chair. She could have watched his simple activities all day. If they only sold tickets. Did they really sell bikes in there? She imagined them filming simple activities in the basement. Something else was going on, something better than tv. She wanted one of those of videos.

Nice hair. A little bit messy today. Perhaps he had ridden here this morning. Perhaps he woke up late and hadn't had time to shower. He seemed odorless despite all the exercise she imagined him getting. Was he up late? What had kept him up? Was it a beer, a bike video, a woman or a line of coke? Perhaps it was the combination. Nice back. A discreet glance. A deep inhale, slow so as not to jar her nerves or spill her coffee. Unwinding the canopy. Nice hands. They had touched fingers once.Orange and brown stripes. She took notes.

He liked the canopy...yellow and white stripes. He had heard it was an unusual salon. He had a longer lunch break than usual, so he booked an appointment. He sat in the waiting area. There was a red circle with a slash through a mobile phone. No mobile phones, No magazines, but the conversation was interesting..."Reverse sunwheel....Chinese flagpole..." Two girls were trading tips on pole dancing moves next to the water dispenser. One of them was fifty percent tattoo. The other walked towards him with her pierced navel jiggling a jewel and called his name in a breasty nurse tone. He followed her to a room with a red naugahyde chaise pressed up against the wall in the naughty corner.

She drew the curtain behind them and rolled up his sleeve to check his pulse. He had one. She looked in his eyes. Pupils dilated. Tongue, reflexes...A full check up ensued. Nice hair, but you're looking a little disheveled...she held his chin and twisted his profile. It's time for a trim.  "I'm Fiona. I'll be your hairdresser today." He sat stiffly upright on the chaise almost sitting on his hands. He had heard that name before. Yes... it was an unusual salon. She looked at her list of clients as if purusing a menu, then glanced at the dish before her. He was a full dinner. Cut, color, and shampoo. She put her scissors down.

She sat down on his lap face to face to get a better look at what he needed. She pressed her wrists against his temples. Yes. He had a pulse... and ran her hands through his hair. He needed a few inches off. She blew a bubble. It popped all over his face. He froze. He didn't protest. Yes. She'd have to change. Hairdressing is messy. She emptied her dress onto the floor. Nice bra. Little red flowers on a black background. It reminded him for a moment of his grandma's kitchen curtains. How could think of his grandma at a moment like this? He slapped himself.

Her breasts spilled out of her bra as she handed him a clipboard. Was it a waiver? He read the menu as he held the pencil. There were boxes to tick. He wanted to tick them all. At the bottom, it said "freestyle: whatever there's time for." His pencil broke as he ticked the box. He was in need of the topless haircut, shampoo, and blow dry. He sat patiently awaiting her scissors. Straddling him, she clipped away. "If Carlsberg did haircuts....deffo...this was the salon" he thought as her necklace caught in his chest hair. She wasn't cutting his hair; she was taking his scalp. No need for gel.

For all the positions she'd imagined him in, he was a terribly polite in person, almost noble and so was she....annoyingly polite...too polite to fuck and a lot less personal. He had put some effort into seeming quite unmoved, whereas she had thrown her back out doing clitoral back flips for him. She considered it a back flip, asking someone out for a drink. It was against her code that--and she had broken more than one rule.

He didn't wish to be moved by a woman pulling a child down the road. She moved him in a different way. She loved her boy. She held his hand and his book bag and his lunch box like a devoted sherpa. She wore trendy, but slightly tatty clothes, and occasionally, steel heeled boots that probably created divisions within the PTA. He doubted she ever wore them out to a pub or a club.

Her bosom was outspoken. It stretched against the buttons of every shirt she tried to wear. They probably sagged without the help of an underwire. Under breast sweat. He certainly had never pictured her cutting his hair. Perhaps for the sake of Greenpeace or the good neighbor scheme, he'd buy her a  beer one day.

They watched each other as she passed by. Hard to read. Nothing to say. It was better than coffee and much worse. With coffee, you can have it whenever you like it, as much as you want, sip it slowly or glug it down. But he was not coffee. Sometimes he would be there outside arranging the bikes and sometimes not. And when he was there, it was like was not unlike the jolt of five espresso shots going down her throat. She filled up. It lasted most of the day. And just as it started to fade, it would be time to go again to pick her child up. When he wasn't there, she sighed with a little disappointed relief not to go through the distraction of walking past the sun.

She sat eating cake with her friend, chatting away happily. The conversation and the time flowed. Despite the banter, Bikeman flashed into her mind again as a little cake slipped off her fork. The black lycra added to the superhero effect. There he was cape and all. She pictured him in front of her. "Fabulous" is all he said as he had his cake. And she said, "yeah." She noted the three syllable word. It seemed to be enough. He was an English speaker, but he reminded her of a Russian on his third week in London. His mother tongue was body language. He did speak but his main words were hey, dude, awesome, sick, kewl, and yo...words not easily applied to cake shop banter and not conducive to making sentences.

There were a few other words that were new to her. Deffo, stoked, and woot. Deffo: a seventies remix of definetly. "Stoked slang," she googled it...excited...nothing to do with poking a fire. Hmm. Woot woot. Sounds like the name of a little canary or a bunny in a kiddy show involving a train. Wooty when he was small and woot woot for a fully grown rabbit. Water on the boil. A cup of tea in the making. "I'd boil a bunny for you," she thought pathetically and smiled.

When in doubt, ask Jack. What would Jack Nicholson say about "woot?"

Tempted but, I've never wooted in my life nor have I ever been so far from sobriety as to feel the need to woot. Infact, if I were to be caught wooting in public, I'd probably employ someone to take me home right away...preferably in a car with tinted windows...driver on woot alert. I would woot but it's not in my vocabulary, nor is it in my nature. I am many things, but not a wooter. I have yet to get to the W's in the big dictionary of life. Woot?  I really can't say. She pictured Bikeman playing with Wooty in his cage poking a little carrot through the bars. How sweet. "Come Wooty. Here boy."


Everett A Scott said...

Espresso Ghetto has a certain Gabriel Garcia Marquez style about it in that it is peppered with descriptive attention to important detail; blink and you'll miss it.
It's an interesting style that the author employs to get the reader familiar (very quickly) with the characters and their environment in a simplistic way without all the long winded overdone descriptions.

The rhythm and beat driving through this piece of work is definitely syncopated. One minute, Bikeman is 'undoing the padlock on the shop front door'. The next he's sat bolt upright in the chair of another shop; Fiona's hairdressers salon.

It's dialogue followed almost immediately by description, and then dialogue again. It's not predictable; there' a shifting frequency, like a sine wave. 'choke on your skinny soy latte bitch' (trough), 'He left her with a powered heart and smile' (peak). If you're expecting a carousel of a story then you're in for a Cyclone Rollercoaster of passion, love, hate, anger, frustration, care, altruism, pain, and every other experience that is human; that makes this very interesting read, very human.

DOGBOY said...

another nice journey