Another short scene from my story…
I’m lying on the faux sheepskin rug naked when Melissa texts me to say she’s finished her business in Jasmin District early. I get dressed and catch the metro to meet her for a coffee.
“The guy’s been spending thousands calling all these numbers on his company phone,” she says the moment she sees me. “Guess who he was calling.”
She doesn’t look like she’s spent a day working. Her hair is as immaculate as it was this morning. Her stride as we head into the coffee shop is quick and purposeful.
“Prostitutes?” I ask as we slot into a booth overlooking the busy street. Every other shop along the road is advertising artisan coffee and vegan cakes on rustic chalkboards.
“Worse. Sexbots. He spent all that money to be chatted up by a robot and now his career’s down the pan and he’ll probably spend at least three years in prison for messing about with the accounts. Fucking hilarious.”
“Maybe he was just lonely.”
“If he was just lonely, why didn’t he go to some bar and pick up a girl? A real girl, not some AI voice recognition software. Is that sexy? Isn’t it just a form of masturbation?”
“You’re saying masturbation isn’t sexy?”
“It’s sexy when women do it. When men do it it’s like watching a child trying to throttle a worm.”
“Says the lesbian.”
“Oh come on, this has nothing to do with being gay. No self-respecting woman actually wants to watch a man toss himself off. It’s degrading.”
A waitress with purple dreadlocks asks if we’re ready to order.
“Just two Americanos?” She says suspiciously. “Don’t you want to know what this week’s guest beans are?”
Melissa sends me a sarcastic twitch across the table with her eyebrow.
“Yeah. We’ve got an artisan roast from the shade forests of Honduras?”
She phrases it like a question. My sister licks her lips thoughtfully.
“Do you know what, Central America just doesn’t float my boat. What else have you got?”
The waitress looks up to the ceiling.
“I think you’ll love our special Pythagoras blend. It’s got a really awesome mouthfeel?”
“Right. Of course. I don’t suppose you have…oh what’s the name of that coffee I love Ivy?”
The waitress turns to me hopefully.
“Nescafe,” I say.
“Yes!” Melissa cries, evidently pleased I’m playing along. “That’s the one. Nescafe instant. Do you have any of that?”
The waitress, clearly disgusted, mutters something about checking the store cupboard and scuttles away. When I catch Melissa’s eye we both burst out laughing. She clutches hold of my hand across the table, shaking her head.
“What the fuck is this place Ivy? Guest beans? Guest beans?”
I shake my head in sympathy, noticing the skinny boy pressing furiously on the keys of a typewriter on the table next to ours.
“Jasmin District is hipster town,” I inform her. “It’s where young people come to simulate an era they were never part of. They think there’s something solid about the olden days that’s lacking in modern life. That’s what they’re hoping to find I guess, some sort of substance. It’s desperate, isn’t it?”
The waitress returns and hastily deposits two steaming glass cups on our table. Melissa picks the cup nearest to her up by the handle and holds it to the light, inspecting the deep brown liquid through the glass with narrowed eyes.
“What’s wrong with a good old thick china mug? What the hell’s got into these people?”
I watch her take a tentative sip and notice faint smile lines fanning out from the corner of each pale eye. It causes a dull thud in my belly. She’s not immortal after all. I quickly think of something to say so I don’t have to dwell on it.
“How’s the band?”
“Bloody Knickers? Yeah it’s going alright. Jodie broke her wrist trying to do a backflip over her drum kit. It was so funny Ive, she really thought she could do it.”
“God. That must have hurt?”
“Oh no, we were all incredibly high on cocaine. She was fine until the morning.”
“You’re still taking drugs?”
“Taking drugs? I don’t take drugs Ivy, you make me sound like some kind of junkie.”
“I don’t know what you want to call it.”
“It? There’s no it.”
I blow on my coffee to disguise my exasperation.
“So do you have a stand-in drummer?”
“No way. Jodie wouldn’t have it would she, she’s afraid they’ll be better than her. Besides, we wouldn’t be Bloody Knickers without Jode, would we? She’s just drumming with her right hand now. It’s pretty awesome actually. We’re thinking of all playing one-handed. It’s kind of postmodern, don’t you think? Deconstructed punk.”
“Would that sound alright?”
“No it would be a fucking disaster, but who cares? It’s the concept people come for, not the music.”
After we finish our drinks we pay up. The waitress runs our order through as two Ethiopian blends because Nescafe, she tells us reproachfully, isn’t on the system