A scene in a café

First, a brief introduction. Posting fiction scares me a little. I feel exposed, and not in a good way.  What follows is a brief snippet that’s probably a part of a longer story. I wrote it after hearing David Bowie’s Slow Burn while having a cup of coffee at my favourite café. It’s almost exactly as I wrote it: only a few minor edits.

Fair warning. Contains  some explicit (and implicit) language.

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Slow Burn at the Good Earth Café

I remember it like this.  Sitting in the Good Earth Café, reading Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd.  I heard the chime that signalled someone’s entry, and looked up.  It was you.  At that moment, the opening guitar hook from Bowie’s Slow Burn started playing on the café’s speakers.  We both said “nice” at the same time and, hearing each other, our eyes met and locked.  Knowing smiles, like both of us telling each other that we had excellent musical taste.

I asked you if you wanted to sit with me, something I never do with strangers, and you consented.  You paid for your coffee (black, no sugar) and sat in the chair across from me.

And we exchanged.  Names. Musical likes, apart from the obvious Bowie.   Films.  Books.  So much more.  You liked 70s glam and French chanteuses from the 1940s. Me? The Wedding Present was my musical love.  You loved French cinema.  Me?  Spanish.  You loved the Brontës, but were not snobbish enough to forgo the pleasure of good old-fashioned smut. Me? Atwood and Hardy. And good old-fashioned smut.

We talked about family.  Mine, big.  Yours, small.  Mine, scattered across the globe (US, Brazil, Ukraine). Yours, all within a 200km radius.  Mine, deeply conservative Christian background. Yours, mostly non-religious with a smattering of hardcore atheism.  I was the oldest of six siblings. You, the middle of three.

We didn’t exchange last names.  Too soon.  We didn’t talk about hopes and fears, nor desires and aversions.  We didn’t talk about what drew us in or what pushed us away. Nor how we began and ended our days. We avoided talk of sacred and profane.  I think we both knew that if our conversation would continue beyond that day, we’d bring all those abstractions to light. Slowly, bit by bit. Each one a kind of tease to pull the other along. A fascination. A sparkling lure.

I looked up and caught you gazing at me.  Shyly, you averted your eyes. When they returned to me, you found my gaze upon you. And it turned into a kind of tennis match, a back and forth of furtive glances.

Who broached the subject of sex? I can’t remember, but it feels as if neither of us brought it up, that it was sitting with us, that it had appeared ex nihilo when my eyes met yours.  Perhaps it was there in Bowie’s “Slow Burn.”  That brilliant guitar hook and our eyes meeting: that’s what brought sex to life.

No matter. I sensed that you and I both shared a common philosophy with regard to sex: the importance, the significance of the thing was the thing itself, and the whys and wherefores were wasted words.

I remember. Sitting at the table, talking with you, my eyes darting back and forth, scanning you.  Your eyes. Your chest. Your eyes again. Your forearms. Your chest. Hair. Eyes. Chest. Willing my mind to interpolate the shape and size of your breasts, the narrowness of your waist, the double curve of your hips and ass. The triangle formed by the dimples in your lower back.

Yes. Undressing you with my eyes, that old cliché.  I amazed myself at my ability to hold up my end of the conversation, what with visions of your naked body in front of me, and the steadily expanding bulge in my pants.

And then I noticed your eyes. Not the colour. Brown, right? I noticed your pupils. Dilated. Wide. Excited. Taking everything in. Gathering as much information as possible. A tell-tale sign of arousal.

And I noticed then, you seemed to be straining forward when you spoke. No longer casual. Intense.  And a look on your face, mirroring mine, that said, “I need to fuck you. Now!” My mind raced with the logistics of this need.  My place was at the other end of town, one and a half hours and two buses.  Your place? A two-hour flight and fifty-dollar cab ride away.

I spoke, finally, almost stuttering out the words, “A hotel.  There’s one around the corner.  The Sandman.  Let’s go.”

For a minute or so, we looked at each other in silence, shyly, almost apprehensively, like virgin newlyweds.  I felt something akin to terror. But not a fear of you. More a fear of the strength and intensity of this lust for you.  And it was lust that day. No feelings of tenderness. No sentimentality.  Only that animal desire that drives people to fuck. The kind of lust that seems to create desire and feed it at the same time.  A feedback loop, amplifying and distorting almost beyond recognition our most basic and simple imperative to reproduce.

With these thoughts racing around in my mind, as we got ready to find the hotel, all I could manage to say to you was, “I am so fucking horny right now.”

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13 Responses to A scene in a café

  1. Breathtaking.

    You should do stuff that scares you more often. 🙂

  2. ben, this is great! i’m so glad you posted it. i hope you write the rest someday. in fact, you can take that as an order. 🙂 in the meantime, though… very well done.

    • Ben Wiebe says:

      I don’t know that I’ll write the rest. I tend to see my stories in segments, not wholes. But I will post more snippets as they come.

  3. Love it! (as I did the first time I read it)

    Also, some of the settings seem rather familiar 😉

    Post more. Cara made it an order.

    • Ben Wiebe says:

      I truly miss the Good Earth Café on 7th(?). That was one of my all-time favourite coffee spots.

      And I’ll post more scenes as they come to me.

  4. Monica Kaye says:

    Wow. Who knew that pretty face was hiding all that talent? You should expose yourself more often. Publicly. (Don’t actually get naked, though. At least not in front of children.)

    It’s very evocative, sexy. I can’t wait to read the rest.

  5. Jen says:

    I concur with everyone else; write more. It is terrifying to begin putting things out into the ether that feel like they expose you. But to do those things that scare you, when you do them, you master them and ride that bull naked through a subway station with a wild grin and a free laugh that tells the audience, “Thought you’d never see a naked man on a bull with a giant hardon, did you? Come back next time, it’ll be somethin’ better!”

    Also, for the record, though my preference would have been to have the tale a bit more rounded out, it’s the “all I could manage to say was…” that makes me want to have some bunk time.

    Bravo.

    • Ben Wiebe says:

      I think all writing should make the reader hanker for some bunk time.

      And in your bull scenario above, does the rider have the hardon, or the bull? 🙂

  6. There’s real good potential here, Ben. Real good.

    Some of the syntax felt a little awkward, less sleek than it could be, but that’s easy enough to fix.

    Thought: try setting it in the present tense instead of past. It might help convey the immediacy of the thing better.

    I’d love to see more– and help out, if you’d like. Editing is my very favorite thing ever. 🙂

    • Ben Wiebe says:

      Thanks Beca. I’ll be posting more snippets like this in the future. Input is always welcome. Re the syntax, that’s just how I write. My signature style, if you will. 🙂

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