The Cafe Down the Road

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Danny sat perched on the edge of his seat across from Alison, who was absentmindedly stirring sugar into her coffee. A soft murmur of voices surrounded them, people coughing and scrapping chairs, hanging damp coats on brass hooks or carefully laying dripping umbrellas down on the floor. The rain sizzled softly outside, hitting the pavement and pattering the windows.

'Yes, I mean I'm not with your dad anymore and your f****y hates me. ' 'I'm not sure they hate you, I know I don't hate you,' Danny said. 'That's sweet Danny,' Alison said softly, before lifting her steaming cup of coffee to her pursed lips, tentatively taking a sip, and then adding a moment later.

'I appreciate it, even if it isn't true - at least as far as your f****y goes. Danny sat there, feeling wooden, trying to think of something else to say to Alison. He looked to his right and carefully noted the cafe's dark walls, the rows of photos of jazz and blues musicians in chipped frames, behind greasy glass, running from one side of the dark cafe to the other as if this study could help him solve the problem of talking meaningfully to this woman.

Danny sipped his coffee and reached for a dark mint chocolate. 'It's nice to see you again Danny,' Alison finally said,' you're the only one I miss. I enjoyed being your stepmother. ' 'I miss you too and I think about you a lot.

' A young and harried looking waiter suddenly arrived and his eyes fell on Alison and he dropped the piece of crockery he was changing on their table. Alison noticed his reaction and laughed softly at the young man and Danny felt a pang of jealousy, but hoped his features were composed enough so Alison wouldn't notice.

The young waiter lingered, overly and unnecessarily attentive. Danny disliked him - his dark hair looked shiny as if it were slicked back with oil and his angular face looked hard, his skin looked coarse and yellowish under the weak brown glow of the light above them. 'Thanks, we're fine now,' Alison said softly, but dismissively, cutting the waiter off before he launched into some rehearsed pickup routine.

Alison turned back to Danny, smiling and lifted the cup of coffee and drank. 'Danny, you've probably heard a lot of rotten things about me from your father and the rest of your f****y,' Alison said a moment later, becoming more serious. 'He has said things, yes,' Danny replied, sounding apologetic.

'Yes, I bet he has,' Alison muttered, growing annoyed, but trying to hold her temper in check, 'did he tell you that I was screwing a whole lot of guys behind his back and trying to take all his money?' Danny was lost for words. 'I'm not angry with you Danny: he's the one at fault. And no matter what he says, we both had affairs.

' 'You're sweet Danny,' Alison said, reaching out and taking his hand in hers. Danny lost track of the conversation momentarily. He looked at Alison with a yearning expression in his eyes which Alison noticed instantly. Her big blue eyes were gazing at him and her tender lips were moving.

'Do you think I was just some sort of trophy wife, because that's what they all thought?' 'No, of course not, Danny replied. ' Alison picked up her cup and looked off to the left, sipping - her mind preoccupied. Danny tried not to stare at her shiny blond hair or her beautiful neckline and shoulders.

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