Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Usual Suspects

There are those who come to the local Starbucks in Renon every morning. We are part of the scenery. We are sentient members of the furniture. We each have our chosen place. We are part of the ambiance. Sometimes they give us free coffee. We are good for business. Aside from myself, there is an older man (though not older than I) who is heavyset with a red face and a gray beard and every day he listens to music or watches movies on his laptop using earbuds. I am told that he cannot hear very well and that one must practically scream in order to converse with him, but I know him to be a polite man who always offers his seat to someone else when he is about to leave, because by that time, at around noon, there are either few or no seats available. There is another man who has introduced himself to me several times now as a poet. He sees me typing on my laptop and presumes that I must also be either a novelist or a poet. Today, he showed me a picture of himself standing before a stone plaque in Paris reading the poetry etched on the plaque. Or was it a tombstone? He was very happy about this. Paris, after all, is very far away from Bali and is known as the city of light. This man always dresses completely in black and has always an open, eager, apologetic smile. On the other hand, there is a pretty woman who never smiles or speaks because she is very busy studying something on her laptop screen. She always sits in one of the smaller, uncomfortable chairs that are placed before the higher tabletops. I find her vaguely fearsome. In the afternoon, the schoolgirls come in their gray and white uniforms and sit at the long  conference table outside sipping sweet coffee inventions and smoking clove cigarettes, huddled together in their own world of delicious whispers and peals of laughter. I think that some among them may see Paris one day, while some may become silent and fearsome. Who can say? We are all permanent residents in a world of strangers. We stay while others come and go.

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