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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2259417-Topping-Old-Man
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2259417
These youngsters could do with some good advice. (Winner, Cramp!)
It could not be.

This wasn't Harry Potter. It wasn't the Hogs Head or the Three Broomsticks. It wasn't Hogwarts.

Pictures did not move here. They were ordinary, non-magical pictures and they stayed put as they had on the day they were first clicked. William tried not to look at the picture that appeared to be moving, as he spoke to Alisha. The trouble was, they were seated opposite each other at the little cafe table, and the picture was on the wall just behind her. If he looked at her, he HAD to see the picture out of one part of his eye.

"What are you doing, William?" she asked, suddenly.

He hadn't realized that he had been desperately trying to close one eye to avoid looking at the supposedly-moving picture. "Uh - nothing," he replied, flustered. "Just getting a bit of fluff out of my eye."

Why was all this happening now? He didn't believe in ghosts. The moving picture was most certainly NOT the ghost of the founder, the grandpa of the current owner of the cafe. William had been to this cafe hundreds of times and the old man had beamed at him from the photo-frame, never moving.

Resolutely, he said, "Alisha, let's move to another table. The light is glaring here or something."

Nothing was going to ruin this evening.

He had the ring in his pocket, and his speech all learned up. Today, he was going to ask Alisha to make him the happiest man on earth, and no man who had left the earth was going to interfere.

They shifted to another table, carrying their drinks with them.

"Alisha ..." he began, as soon as they had settled down.

"Yes?" Then - "Yes, William, what is it?"

The old man was standing next to them. Not in his picture frame. Not just his smiling face, the whole of him. Next to them, on the floor in the cafe, And he was mouthing something at William. From the shape of his lips, William understood the old man was saying his name, "William", but couldn't understand anything else.

Alisha obviously hadn't seen the old man, or she would've said something. Nobody else appeared to notice anything odd at all.

"William, William," the non-utterance continued.

"William, what is it?" the sharp female voice coincided with the 'William' of the silent male one and he gave a jump.

The old man leaned across and took a paper napkin. Nobody noticed anything odd. Nobody seemed to realize that a paper napkin had just flown upward of its own accord.

The old fellow looked around for a pen, spotted one in William's front pocket and neatly took it. Nobody else noticed anything.

Alisha was getting annoyed. "WILLIAM! Are you asleep, or drunk or something?"

The old man was writing on the paper napkin. What on earth was taking him so long? He was writing and writing. After what seemed an age, the old man replaced the paper napkin, now covered with tiny writing, popped the pen back in to William's pocket, strolled over to his picture and smiled beguilingly as always.

"Uh - got a bit of a cold coming on. Maybe I'd better wipe ..." William leaned over and pulled the napkin out of the bolder.

"Well, wipe properly. William, what has come over you?"

He was reading.

"She was here last week with her sister. She doesn't like broccoli, and says it puts her off every time you order it on pizza. If you want to get her in to a good mood, young man, order pizza with potatoes and black olives, and lots of pineapple. For dessert, order lemon souffle."


*********


Alisha was happy.

William had let her arrange every detail of the wedding her way. He had agreed to the venue, the matching outfits, the decorations. They wrote up their vows together. He agreed to say whatever she wanted him to.

There was just one thing she didn't understand, but since he was letting her do everything else, she didn't deny him this one wish.

The portrait of the grandpa from the little cafe was to be placed strategically behind the priest. Alisha supposed it was sentiment, since that was the cafe at which she had said 'yes'. Well, she'd allow her soon-to-be-husband this one eccentricity. Everything else, even which pizza toppings they ordered, was going to be her choice from now on ...

*Wink*
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