The coffee shop closes at half past five in the winter months. There are others that are open all night for the young ones.
This shop is for the old people. Domenic is as old as we are. It’s his shop and he can close whenever he wants.
Next door the shop is open all night but it’s noisy and the young ones talk too loud and they never stop to listen.
Morris was in tonight. Late. I usually see Morris at lunch time and we engage in chatter over a cup. But he was in late tonight.
‘You’re late tonight,’ I said. ‘Did you forget your way home?’
‘No. It’s come on cold and I didn’t have the energy to make m’self a cup of coffee. If I’d have known you’d be here I wouldn’t have come.’
‘Could we have two coffees please, Domenic? One for me and a really nice one for old Morris.’
Anyway there was no one in the shop. Domenic made one for himself as well and came over and joined us.
Do y’ know how sometimes when you’re all talking and slinging mud at each other and laughing and then all of a sudden, you stop. There’s nothing. All three of us just sat and looked at our coffee and said nothing.
Dom noticed it first.
‘What’re ya pissed off about, Morrie?’
Just like that. Domenic knew there was something. I didn’t notice at first but he was right. Morris wasn’t himself.
‘Yeah Morrie. What’s worrying ya?’
‘Nothing. Nothin’s worrying me. Do you realise that one year ago today Posie died? She was a pain in the neck that woman. Made my life hell. She could find something wrong with anything I did.’
I didn’t say a thing. Nor Dom neither. Lot of things I could have said. Posie was a hard faced woman and I don’t think I ever heard her say a kind word about anyone. Not ever. Posie just didn’t like people.
‘Do you ever hear from your kids?’ Morris asked looking at me. Changin’ the subject.
‘Yeah. Sometimes.’ I shrugged. ‘Might go a week or two, or a month. But yeah. Except for the boy. He’s overseas. Don’t expect anything from him for a while.’
‘Waddabout you Dom?’
‘I got a sister in Lebanon rings me every Sunday night without fail. An’ her kids ring me up every so often. But I haven’t got any kids of me own so it don’t bother me.’
‘I’ll tell you something,’ said Morris. ‘And I don’t want you to laugh. Either of you. The other day, a while back, I bumped into Posie’s youngest sister over in Clayton. She told me her son Walter married this Welsh girl and they have a little boy. I didn’t have nothing to do so I dropped in to visit. Now this Welsh girl looked a lot like Posie did when she was young. Looked like! But this girl had a smile and a joy in her made me jump in the air. She’s young enough to be my grand-daughter. I mean it. She is. So I drop over every now and then and take the little boy a lolly or something. Sometimes I take the boy down the park to play on the swings and give Catrin a chance to have a rest. Catrin, that’s her name. I ring her up sometimes to see how she is.
She says she misses not having her father here. But she gives me a kiss on the cheek when I get there. Her husband, that’s Posie’s sister’s boy, he is a really nice fellow. I like the whole family.
There I told you. You can both laugh now if you want.’
‘No,’ I said. ‘Nothing to laugh about. I think its nice. What about you Dom. Whadda you think?’
‘Yeah. I think it’s great. Very nice of you Morris to go and look after that family. Give you something to do. I’m going to shut the door now. No one’s coming in. Any one like a small brandy?’
‘No thank you Domenic,’ said Morris. ‘Very nice of you to offer on such a cold bloody night. But I wouldn’t mind a large one.’
So we sat and drank some of Domenic’s Lebanese Brandy. And you know how it is. Slowly there was a silence and we all sat looking at our glasses.
‘Anyway Morrie,’ asked Dom. ‘What was on your mind when you came in here before.’
‘I was waiting for Catrin to ring. I miss her when she doesn’t ring.’
There was another silence. I’ll tell you something. I wasn’t going to be the bunny that broke the silence. I can tell you that. Nor Dom neither.
Morrie shifted in his seat like his underpants were creased. ‘I miss her. She was a hard old bitch but if only once she had said “I love you”. She never said “I love you”. You believe that? Fifty five years we were married and she never said she loved me. What kind of a woman is that.
I guess Catrin was busy with putting the little fellow to bed. I’ll ring her tomorrow.’