May 15, 2015: Cooked Goose

The little cafe was empty except for myself, the owner, and her husband.
She was tidying up the counter while he slowly swept the floor.

They didn’t talk to me.
They barely even looked at me.
Every now and then she’d check to make sure my coffee hadn’t gone cold and he would chase the family goose out with his broom.

It was the perfect quiet afternoon.

I sat stirring my coffee, sketching tables and chairs and the goose on the little white napkins the man had piled on my table.

The old man sits down, resting the broom against his leg and lets out a big sigh.
He wipes his face with a dirty cloth and looks towards the door.

Ah, here they come, Philly. I hope they brought their own food this time!

You know they didn’t. They never do. Always eat everything we’ve got!

They called back and forth to each other, both running around tidying up and getting the place ready.
I started to drink my coffee in gulps, thinking a party is coming and I’m going to be kicked out at any moment.

The woman stands behind the counter, her hands pressed flat on the top, bracing herself.
Her husband stands at the door, a big smile on his face, waiting to greet and seat his guests.

Two men rush into the cafe in a swirl of strong cologne, laughter, and dust.
They drop hard onto stools at the counter and begin ordering food and drinks.
They tell jokes, laugh hard, slap each others backs. They flirt with the owner and wink at her husband.

I look down and my coffee cup is full again. The coffee hot and sweet.

The two men eat and tell stories. They move their hands wildly, flinging food and drink everywhere.
The owners husband places newspapers around their chairs in an attempt to contain the mess.

An hour passes, the drink is still flowing but the food is gone.

Every year! Every year you come here and you eat all the food. Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear about the drinks! You always spike everyone’s coffees! Why can’t you make the pastries last forever? What use are you?

The men laugh and blow kisses to their hostess.
She looks through the kitchen, on all the shelves, in all of the cupboards…no food.
Her husband quietly walks outside.
There’s a crash. Breaking glass.
He falls back into the room trying to hold onto the goose’s legs.

We can cook up this old bastard!

The men eye the goose.
The goose, having been through this before, strikes the old man with his bill and begins flying around the small room.
The old man chases after it, climbing on tables, knocking chairs over, swinging the broom at the goose like a mad man.

I pick up my still full coffee cup and step out of their way.
Tables are breaking.
Feathers are covering the floor.
The strange men laugh and cheer on the couple.
The goose is honking loud.

Finally, the goose hides under a table and when the old man rushes at it, it flies into the lap of the older of the two strangers.

Ah, don’t worry old friend. We wouldn’t eat you, you know that. They always offer it…but you remind me of a beautiful girl I once knew.

The man strokes the goose’s head, lifts up his glass and thanks his hosts.
Feathers still fall, slowly, over everything.

The old man in breathing heavy, swearing at the goose.
The owner is sitting next to her husband, pulling feathers out of her hair.

The two men stand up and stretch. One belches loudly.
They say their thanks again, hugging and kissing the couple as they make promises to help them clean up next time, to bring food.

I think I hear thunder.

They leave, my coffee turns cold.
The owner is back near the kitchen, wiping the counter top down.
Her husband is slowly sweeping up dust and feathers.
I drink the last bit of my coffee, find my sketched on napkins on the floor, and step out into the pouring rain.

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