Abel continued staring at the blank sheet of paper as the Irish Coffee lay beside him, the waft of the air-conditioner cooling the whiskey-laden caffeine drink. He tried connecting the thoughts in his head to coherent words on paper but he couldn’t get his pen moving.
“Sir, would you like anything with your Irish Coffee?” the waitress asked him in a gentle tone. Abel looked up at her. She was wearing the Café Coffee Day attire, down to the white apron. She had hazel eyes, a rarity in the city where Abel was used to seeing just brown-eyed girls. Her hair was tied up in a neat bun, more to do so with the job she had. He knew she would look more beautiful if she let her hair open.
“I’d like some inspiration,” he said, in a tired voice.
“Excuse me, sir?” the waitress asked.
“Yes, inspiration,” he said. “That’s what I need, uhm, Faye.” Her name was printed in bold black letters on a white plate and pinned to her outfit.
“Er, but sir,” Faye hesitated, “Inspiration isn’t served here.”
“Why not?” Abel screamed. “I don’t think I’m the only person looking for it. I mean, many people who come here must be asking for it, right?”
“Well, no sir,” Faye said, quite enjoying the conversation. She looked up at the counter. Her two colleagues were busy flirting in one corner. The shop was empty, save for two businessmen discussing a future deal. And besides, Abel was handsome. Dressed in jeans and a checkered rolled-up sleeved-shirt, he had a chiselled face. A face that would suit an artist or a sculptor more than a writer, perhaps. “I’m sure many people are looking for inspiration. I think the problem is that they never ask.”
“Oh!” Abel said, looking outside the window for a second and then at Faye in a disapproving tone, “That’s a shame.”
Faye was surprised. She had never met anyone so candid before. She sure had met a unique specimen if anything else.
“Sir, would you like anything else then, if not inspiration?” she asked again. She, after all, had a job to do. “Your Irish Coffee has gone cold too.”
“Okay, you can do two things. Actually, three.”
“And what would that be, sir?” Faye said, quite curious now.
“Firstly, you can stop calling me ‘sir’. My name’s Abel. Spelt A-B-E-L and not the way it is spelt in table. Secondly, I’ll finish this coffee, but can you get me two more of the same? And lastly, if you are free, would you have a coffee with me?”
Faye stood in disbelief, wondering what had happened. She looked around her. Her colleagues were still in the corner while one of the businessmen seemed delighted. She turned back to look at Abel who was now looking at street urchins outside the window begging for money.
“Yes?” Abel turned around slowly, as if he knew what she would reply.
“I get free in an hour. After that?”
“Sure, no problems. I’ll complete my story till then,” he smiled.
Faye turned around and went back to the counter. Her colleagues stopped hobnobbing together when they saw her approaching. Faye couldn’t stop smiling and hoped that Abel wouldn’t notice. He wouldn’t as he was already immersed into his sheet of paper.
Abel had written just a few words on his paper. But he knew he could elaborate and make a fine story now.
Faye. Abel. Love. Four-letter words.