Thursday, June 15, 2006

Back to the Cafe of No Return.

Knocking off work past dawn I'm able to call in at the Cafe of No Return, for old Vitto gets there early for a long day of cut-throat gossip and Madame Lefarge knitting. Blocking my way to the door was a deadbeat couple, leftovers from the Saturday night bacchanalia on the Cross, propping each other up against the window, cursing in slurred speech endearments that brain-dead zombies find sweet, "You fuckin' cunt bitch whore, yous was suckin' up to that shithead all night, mumble grunt slurp splat!"

I pushed them out of the way but found the door locked, Vitto was holed up in Cafe Precinct 13, he'd been attacked by twilight junkie thugs a few months previously and egress nowadays was by special invitation. He saw me clamouring and opened up, I skittered in and we relocked the door as more zombies approached, Vitto was a notorious soft touch and the cafe had the only easy toilet for miles. A bedraggled schitzo with rat's tail hair scratched at the glass, it was cold out and he needed the toilet and a place to keep warm till the sun came up, Vitto yelled "No!" but then a legitimate customer arrived and, as the door was unlocked for him, the schitzo scrambled in and clung to a table, immovable, whining and muttering deluded prophesies, so we shrugged and turned our backs on him, "There but for the grace of nogod go I!"

We laughed over the movie "Colour Me Kubrick" which we'd seen the other night, swearing we'd never be taken in by such an obvious fucker as the film's anti-hero conman. Clatter clatter at the glass door, crotchety Old John was demanding entry and Vitto screamed, "Go away! Fuck off! I'm sick of you! Get lost!" The grizzled old fellow clutched his usual bunch of flowers wrapped in tissue which he tried to flog by the railway station, and he waved them at us impecuniously, his wizened, saggy face screwed up in a grimace of despair. There had been letters of complaint written to Column 8 of the S/M Herald about some horrid old creature seen haunting the north shore suburbs and cutting the precious flowers from their swank gardens, 'birds of paradise, roses and tiger-lillys, it was crazy old John, the desperate pensioner who supplemented his income thus, flogging stolen flowers to the unwary.

I felt sorry for the old geezer and, against Vitto's wishes, opened up so he could scurry in and launch into his salesman's pitch for my good-natured benefit, he had a brand new pair of shoes to sell, for only $25, and tho I didn't need shoes, he pleaded so heartrendingly, and brought the price down, $24, $22, $20, I gave in and bought them, daggy shoes fit for a tax collector, still they might come in handy for work one day. The old boy shook my hand vigorously in thanks, as if I'd just paid for a heart by-pass operation, and then he scurried back out into the cold. "He probably shoplifted those fucking shoes,!" growled Vitto, "he comes in here every day and hassles everyone to buy junk he's stolen from somewhere, and he never lets up, I'm sick of him, he drives me crazy!" I felt mortified to be encouraging such villainy, but he was such a sorry old sod, maybe he blew it on the horses, but just maybe I had fed him for a week, it was worth the risk.

The day was hardly started, just warming up, and the desperadoes were crowding in, lonely for a social club, needy of human company, any company. Richard tottered in on his walking-stick, looking sick as a mangy dog, skeletal, the ravages of cancer about to finish him off in the next few minutes. He'd been diagnosed with an incurable disease only a few months ago, overnight he'd deteriorated to a walking-corpse true to chaos theory, and now he just wanted to sit with the derros in the Cafe Hole in the Wall, never saying anything, simply be amongst humans for his last days on earth, derive some warmth, some contact, some distant caring. Thus was the Cafe of God's Waiting Room for all of us dispossessed, alienated, defeated and down-trodden, and Vitto was like a cranky, cruel Mother Theresa, knitting, knitting, woolen shrouds that fit all comers to the Pearly Gates Cafe.