Almost Western (cowboy) style short story.
| The Girl in the Cafe or Eleyna
She sat in a corner of the cafe in the evening, an empty cup in front of her. The barman slipped a quick look at her as he wiped glasses clean with a large check red and white cloth.
She looked twenty two, her body almost entirely concealed in a dull wraparound, though her green blouse and trousers were visible at odd points her neck and sleeves. The cover was artfully draped round her head to conceal her hair tightly tied. Her hair was a rich nut brown.
Most striking was her eyes and their arched eyebrows. She glanced fitfully back over her left shoulder at the darkening street outside with its gathering shadows. Her nose was small with a small bulbous round tip, her lips full and sensual, maddened red.
She rested her right hand, long fingers playing with the handle of the china cup. Her left hand gripped the wraparound self-consciously.
"More coffee, Madam?" asked the barman, standing closely. - too closely.
She flinched and made a face, her lips drawn down in disapproval.
"No," she answered, her voice a soft, very soft allure to the man's innate cravings. He hovered unnecessarily. Please go, she said , inwardly, disliking his curiosity about her. His eyes flicked to her neck - she wore no jewellery - but the collar of her blouse revealed her fine white skin. Instinctively, she pulled the cover more tightly round her. Another glance into the darkness outside.
There had been no one else in the cafe at first : only she. It had been hot, even with the stone floor, the tidy, tiny round wooden tables made for two. A fire blazed at the other end. It was a cafe for men; although a tired looking woman had sat for a while in a corner - a palmist.
Now the single door opened letting in the night, a cold of air passing through Eleyna's body. She shivered and drew her covering even tighter round her small body. A group of men, hardened workers, entered, all laughter and back slapping. They were in heavy coats black and ominous, like miners, with thick boots and black baggy trousers. Then he came in.
He was not the one she was expecting at all. He was a tall man in a white suit and a cowboy style hat. His face was pink and he had a white moustache. He was a figure out of a film or a novel. His blue eyes searched the cafe - round the bar, the barman, the empty palmist's chair, a few empty tables then finally alighting on her. He was large - too large for such a small cafe. Recognising her from some description, he approached.
The last images fading from his memory, closing his eyes in imagined pain, he stepped towards her. He could still see the parched lips and the broken body laid out as if to rest, or waiting for death. The cruel birds circled over him. He had given them one cursing cursory glance and then had left.
"You Eleena?" he asked stooping over her. She only nodded, not bothering to correct his mispronunciation of her name.
He pulled a chair from a neighbouring table. It seemed too small for him, his long legs tucked under him. White, dazzling white, trousers. The barman hovered. The man in the white wide brimmed hat glanced at him quickly, the same look he had given the flesh eating birds in the desert.. The barman shuffled away. Eleyna could only look at this vision of a man come for she knew not what, but breathing quickly in anticipation. Her right hand was trembling, her left she held in her lap.
He examined the startled frozen look on her face. He breathed deeply. She gazed at his pink face, his bright blue eyes, scarcely able to breathe at all. In her fear, the covering fell back, revealing her beautiful nut brown hair, tidily plaited down her back.
In the gleam of the candled lights, and the swish of the door letting in the cold night air, the gathering conversations of hardy strangers around her and this one stranger, he did not have the heart to tell her the truth.
He did not want to be the one to break her heart.