[This has been cross-posted to the Writer's Washroom Annex.]
This is the next bit in our still-as-yet-unnamed saga. If you want more information than that, you should check out the first two chapters. I am still interested in any other idea for a title. All suggestions are welcome!
Let me know what you think; I genuinely do enjoy hearing from you readers!
Chapter Three – Regret
I left the cab, pulled up my collar to keep the rain off my neck. If serendipity provided, Mari might already be here. The city’s semi-famous shopping district, with its bookstores and cafes, coffee shops and boutiques, was one of her favorite haunts. She read every word she could get her hands on and loved to sit and watch the passersby on the sidewalks. Her passion for watching and reading was matched only by her love of coffee; it was as if she lived on it. Fact is she might actually be living on it. I could never be sure. In so many ways we were exactly alike, except for that one thing.
I passed the fountain in the center of the square, pockmarked with precipitation. I thought about dropping a coin while making a wish, but I didn’t know what to wish for. Besides, those things rarely came true.
Hidden speakers played jazz near Banagon’s side door, something from the Blue Note catalog, perhaps. I slipped inside; Dean was behind the counter. He apologized, explaining that Charlie had been called away. I asked where he was.
“Off to see a manuscript, he said! I’m sorry!”
He didn’t seem to be lying and I didn’t press him.
“I’m going over to Brew Mountain. Can I get you anything?” I asked. It also paid to be polite to bookstore employees. You never knew what they knew.
“Why thank you! But no, sir, I picked up a chai latte earlier!”
“Okay. When Charlie comes back, tell him Martin Black stopped by.”
“Happy to, Mr. Black! Is there a message?”
“That should do it.”
When I reached Brew Mountain, I wished I’d wished for an empty table. The umbrellas were open on the patio and all the chairs were taken. A line had formed under the overhang. I didn’t know the owner, so pushing my way to the front here was no option.
I claimed my place in line. The speakers here played something European, maybe some of that German haunted-hausmusik I’d never warmed to. Digging my iPod out of my coat, I plugged the buds into my ears. Thirty seconds or so into my New Order playlist, the volume dropped by half.
I hadn’t touched the controls.
“You are so predictable.” The voice in my ears didn’t belong to Bernard Sumner of New Order, or any other vocalist in my collection, but I knew it well. Mari was nearby. I didn’t bother to answer, and I didn’t bother to look for her.
“What do you have there? Lots of New Order, the Church, Sisters of Mercy, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Echo and the Bunnymen…oh! Is that for me?”
“Yes.” I spoke to empty air. If she was close enough to read the data, she might be close enough to hear me.
“The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus…Martin, if I didn’t know better I’d say you’d almost been bitten by the Nü-Gothic bug, too.”
“It’s gloom pop,” I said. “A little bit of Goth – real, old Goth, and a bit of techno.”
“Hmm. All that music, black jeans and that t-shirt; you must be feeling moody.”
“I’m feeling nostalgic.”
“You’re a human nostalgia attack.” Her voice again came through the buds. She stepped out of the rain, all damp hair and dimples. She swiped an unruly lock out of her face and smiled at me. Like the rest of her, her teeth were perfect. I had seen every inch of her, from the top of her head to the soles of her feet, and I could swear she was perfect. Unlike most men, I didn’t have to exaggerate about the woman I loved.
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