Le Café de L’amour
It’s a strange thing about those lovey-dovey greeting cards. When you go to the store, and you’re searching through the isle for the right card to pick, you never pick up just one and go. You search, you scan, you eliminate, and then you settle for the card you think will make your wife happy. And then, when you hand your card over to your partner after having hidden the card magically behind your back, you never expect them to disapprove of it.
When I entered the cafe on a cold Saturday night, I did my usual routine. I brushed off the snow from the bottom of my black shoes. I firmly shook Jean Pierre’s clammy warm hands and then I sat down at a large round table with my eyes fixated on one of the girls.
The girl was interesting to watch. She stroked her hair and fidgeted with her fingernails. She repositioned her body. She stretched out her neck and urged her shoulders back consciously aware of the specific action that would press out her chest and become irresistible for me to defend.
I did not intend on going to the cafe that evening. In fact, I would have much rather stayed at home and played a game of chess. I always regret it when I go. I’m shameful about it, yet I can’t help myself from coming back. It’s like this overpowering drive inside of me that craves to have my sexual fantasies played out again and again. I sit in the same spot at the cafe, my mind preoccupied with another hundred reasons why I shouldn’t cheat on my wife.
I walked over to the girl and stood at the other end of her table. “Is anyone sitting here?” I asked. She smiled coyly and looked over at Jean Pierre for reassurance. She shrugged her shoulders, signaling to me that it was okay for me to sit down. I took a seat and ordered a cup of coffee. I watched her as she brushed her hair across her forehead, letting me see her seductive, poison ivy eyes.
Those eyes of hers instantly took me back to the moment when I first decided to cheat on my wife. Mind you, it wasn’t actually my choice. The lights were dimmed. There was a feeling of lust in the air. That is not really accurate. It wasn’t in the air, though its power diffused boundaries between me and the environment. By the time I had arrived, there were two full glasses of wine on the kitchen counter. She asked, “Would you care for a casual drink?” When someone so beautiful pours a glass of wine for you, you take it. But it’s only until the aroma starts to override your intuition that you can’t help but take another. With her hand on my shoulder and her body pressed up against mine, she whispered exceedingly erotic things. Never heard that from my wife. Never did that with my wife.
Maybe it was the timing of the situation, maybe it was inevitable or maybe it was the dimmed lights and wine, but that casual drink turned a long-over due fantasy of mine into a reality.
The next day, I picked out a card for my wife with large, bold print of the words, “I love you” puffed up on the inside of the card. I don’t know why I felt the need to buy her a card after having spent a night in another woman’s bed. I guess I wanted to see that loving smile on her face to feel as if everything would be okay and that my life would return to normal again.
Back at the cafe, I got up out of my seat. I calmly pushed my chair back into the table, and I took a step to my left. The girl looked at me. I lightly touched, and then firmly gripped the back of the chair in front of me. “Is anyone sitting here? There aren’t any other places to sit,” I said releasing my grip and opening up my arms to the vast number of empty chairs in the room. She nodded her head in approval of my request. She then reclined back into her seat grazing the side of her bottom lip with her front teeth.
“Monsieur,” the waiter said pouring me a cup of coffee. It was steaming and too hot for me to take a sip. I wrapped my hands around the cup and pulled it close. A few minutes had passed, and the girl said in a French accent, “Why don’t you take a sip? You just like to stare at your coffee?”
I waited a couple seconds to find the right words to say to her and then looked up with intrigue. “Here, why don’t you take a sip?” I said, sliding the cup halfway between us. She dragged the coffee mug towards her while keeping direct eye contact with me. She picked up the mug and placed it close to her nose before closing her eyes and taking a deep whiff of the coffee. She sipped the coffee long and loudly while I, once again, got up out of my seat. She looked at me. She exhaled with delight.
I took a step to my left. “Is there anyone sitting here? This seat looks very comfortable,” I said. She tilted her head, exerting a kind of counterfeit, pondering expression; I could see the smile traveling forward through her teeth.
“I do not think so, Monsieur. This seat is especially reserved only for wine drinkers,” she said teasingly.
I sat down against her wishes. There was one empty chair between us. I signaled for the waiter and ordered a bottle of wine.
"Better now?” I asked lightheartedly. The girl put her coffee mug down on the table and leaned in towards me, resting her elbows on the table.
She then asked, “What is your name, monsieur?”
“Well, I go by a lot of names these days, but none that I have personally chosen. I don’t go by birth name anymore. That name doesn’t resonate with me as it used to. I guess I’ve been called soldier. I’ve been called private and also scumbag. But my favorite name someone has ever called me was dear. Only one person may label me that. So you, my dear, can call me anything, but not that.”
“Dear, dear, hmm. She sounds like a real tough and strong woman. A real warrior in bed!” she said, showing me her arm muscles.
I felt a bead of sweat trickle down my forehead as I took a sip of wine. “And you? What are you like in bed?” I asked. As soon as I asked this, I realized that I skipped a few steps.
She tilted her head and looked up at the ceiling. “I- I do not know. I guess you’ll have to leave with me if you wish to find out.”
She stared out through the window into the dark, snowy night. I got up. She gradually looked up at me. I took my cup from the table and reflexively refilled it to the top. I placed the bottle of wine onto the table and stood real close to her. I pointed to the chair in front of me. “May I?” I asked.
“Nope. You may not sit down. This area is for cigar smokers only.”
I pulled out the chair from the table and sat down next to her while reclining back into the seat. I shuffled through the inside of my jacket and pulled out a cigar and a light. I placed the cigar and the lighter onto the table. Our legs lightly touched.
She readjusted her dress by pulling it down over her knees. I used my hand to explore underneath the table, the terra incognita, and my hand found her naked thigh. It was soft and smooth. She pulled back, turning away in the other direction, but my hand could only move with her body. I slowly reeled her towards me and trailed my hand up her leg. I could tell that her conscience told her to cross her legs, but her instincts compelled her to open them further. She reached down and grabbed my hand, almost telling me where she wanted my hand to go. My hand began to trail up her leg, edging her inner thigh, and I couldn’t help but slowly surrender to her smooth skin.
I signaled for the waiter. “Cheque please.”
When the bill came, I put enough money on the table for the coffee, the wine, and for the girl.
The following morning, I went to the grocery store and picked out my wife a greeting card that read, “I’m yours. No matter what, I love you.” I told myself I would never go back to that place again, but only time will tell. When I handed her the card, she looked into my eyes and said, “Dear, I love you too.”