from The Candy Dish, translated by Angela Rodel
The woman, who was cracking her knuckles and whom the other woman had called “Sophie” before going into the hospital, ordered her second espresso. It was already past 5 p.m., but it wasn’t his job to ask whether it wasn’t a little late, it was his job to sell coffee, so he put a new dose in the little basket and pressed the button on the machine. “With milk,” the woman said and he nodded, stopping the machine when the plastic cup filled halfway and adding a splash of milk, he didn’t feel like asking whether that was enough — “if it isn’t, she’ll say so” — he thought and set the cup in front of her. The woman dug into the sugar bowl, stirred in a whole four spoonfuls and went back to the table by the window to see whether the other woman wasn’t on her way back already. “She’s really taking a long time,” he said to himself, “they usually stay half-an-hour max, they don’t let them stay any longer, but she’s been gone a whole hour now, and she doesn’t seem like anybody too important.” Then it crossed his mind that it might have something to do with that accident today, who knows, he would find out more than they’d reported on the radio — he decided to chat her up. He had a tattoo on his left arm from his stint in the military, they had been quite common back then — a blue anchor, he was in the navy, right? — and he’d racked up quite a bit of experience with that anchor, he couldn’t believe it himself — the chicks, when they saw that anchor in the nightclubs, he didn’t have to say or do anything, they themselves would hike their skirts up more than was necessary to dance the lambada. Back then he’d acquired the habit of rolling up his sleeves, even if he was in short sleeves, he’d push them up anyway — so the anchor was visible — and now, as he went over to the large woman, he rolled up the hairs on his left arm, since he was in a tank top and had nothing else to roll up. “Sometimes I’ve got a mind to strip naked in the afternoons when the sun comes blasting in here,” he would say to his boss, but she only giggled — “you’re so funny” — and never thought to buy an air conditioner.
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