Friday, April 23, 2010

Transient

The gentleman sitting across the room has not ordered anything since he arrived at the coffee shop. He is at the table nearest to the window, with the morning newspaper splayed across the table. However, he is not reading, just turning the pages one by one, each time touching his right index finger to his tongue as if he were taste testing the words. What intrigues me is that his head is turned to the ceiling as he flicks the pages.

 I watch for a few moments, then think, “Maybe he is blind.” But he becomes aware of my gaze and slowly lowers his head and turns to look at me, hand still at his lips. Though embarrassed at being caught, I nod and smile. He does not acknowledge my greeting, however, just lowers his eyes and dampens the tip of his finger with his saliva.

As is my usual routine whenever visiting a new city, I prefer to go out for coffee first thing in the morning, finding places not far from my hotel. I like to watch the locals go about their day and hear the cadence of their speech. On this day at this place, I sit at a small table with a red formica top, drinking black coffee in a white mug. The group I travel with is probably gathered in the hotel's ornate dining room, enjoying a breakfast buffet with all the food and unlimited cups of coffee they can swallow in the hour before the meeting.

The job keeps us traveling for many months of the year. The early allure of spending nights away from my hometown lost its fizzle, not unlike a bottle of champagne forgotten overnight and uncorked on the table. While in the morning it may resemble the drink of celebration, the good taste is gone. The job is as flat and warm.

As I finish my coffee, I see the manager of the shop come up to the man. I am not close enough to hear the conversation but can guess he asked him to leave. The man nods and puts on the shabby jacket  folded on the floor beside his chair. He stands, picks up a bag from under the table, and anchors it to his left shoulder by its strap. At the exit he hesitates as if summoning some resolve to go out into the city, then leaves without looking back. There is no tip on the table, of course. Just the opened newspaper, edges marked with the DNA of a nameless person whose story I will never know. Through the window I see him walk away with unhurried gait.

It is time for me to return to my work and colleagues at the hotel.

Later that night, after many hours of trying to fall asleep in one more unfamiliar bed, I think of the man in the coffee shop and decide that while he may be lonely and homeless in one city, I am the same in many.

53 comments:

  1. This one had an "Up in the Air" feel to it. Kind of melancholy and lonely.

    Too bad they couldn't have at least shared a conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow...I love the feeling of this. Yes, we are all so alike when we look under the surface.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yay Marisa! Another winner from you! Your ending was superb.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The tone engrossed me. I agree with Cathy: you ended this wonderfully. I left it conflicted; wanting to read more but also feeling that wanting more made it a great conclusion.

    A lovely piece!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Puts me in mind of a man I see every morning on my way to work. Not a transient I am sure but as you noted in your chracters odd way of looking towards the ceiling as he turns the pages, this man watches me drive past with hands to his eyes like he is looking through binoculars. Druing the winter monthslhe pears thhrough a balaclava he holds twisted over his eyes. It leaves me wondering about him as I do the man in your story. I enjoyed the read. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. We're all looking for the same comfort, yet to paraphrase Arthur Miller, the only thing we seem to find is a pillow made of stone. This is a wonderful portrayal of the ties that bind us against the things which set us apart.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The part about tasting the words was my favorite. Also, the last line was perfect. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Like TJ, reminded me of Up in the Air. Sad folk. Maybe he needs a Jesus Box?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ah, I love the moment of connection and insight. We are all one, yes?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautiful piece. I love your descriptions.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great observations. I could see him. Love your work Marisa.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This piece makes me feel like I'm a thousand miles from home and I haven't had a really good sleep for ages. An evocative piece.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The last line makes this story. It's beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The details make this one pop off the page. You captured the setting and the characters in such a small space.

    May be melancholy, but those insights and momentary connections into 'we are all one' in a perverse way can comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Quite a moving story. Great observations.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Brilliant.The tone and voice speeds you through this one but it's the details that paint the picture and give this life. Loved it. Excellent writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nice one, Marisa. Excellent writing from start to finish!

    ReplyDelete
  18. "touching his right index finger to his tongue as if he were taste testing the words"

    That's a wonderful image.

    Then insert what everybody else said...

    ...wonders to self: how can I be "Late to the party" when it's still Friday morning?

    Ok, right then!
    *Puts note on calendar*
    "Check Marisa's story at 4:00 am next week."

    ReplyDelete
  19. I truly love your way with words, the feeling of this piece, and how you wrapped it up perfectly.

    You're so good :-)
    ~2

    ReplyDelete
  20. resonated with me. I love watching people, wondering about their stories. The ending was pitch perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Beautiful people watching... and you did a great job with the narrative of it. Very touching.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Even before the last line I felt her restlessness in identifying with the man. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You did a beautiful job in capturing a moment - at the coffee shop and at the same time, capturing a career. Beautifully done!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is very well written. A nice, touching piece of observation from a traveler.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Magnificent. The imagery was beautiful and perfect.

    You painted the isolation under the surface very well.

    Loved this one.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I know this man too..he's in coffee shops all over. nice deft touch with this one marissa

    ReplyDelete
  27. ". Just the opened newspaper, edges marked with the DNA of a nameless person whose story I will never know." a dagger (or a pen nib maybe) right through into the heart of isolation and loneliness that is the seam which runs through us the deepest, whether we expose it or not. You do here, beautifully.

    marc nash

    ReplyDelete
  28. Very poignant story, and very good description. The scene you set was very moving.

    ReplyDelete
  29. That one moment of connection may have changed the way he felt about himself, even if, for a little while. Don't we all have moments like that very one? As others have mentioned above me, this was very melancholy. Love the ending Marisa. Another good one for you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Loneliness comes in many guises, and beneath the surface we are all the same. Love the atmosphere of this one.

    ReplyDelete
  31. very nice. I enjoyed this very much, and had to check the for the #fridayflash tag before I treated what seemed like a page out of your personal diary like fiction. A very true piece of work.

    ReplyDelete
  32. It's hard to add to the already bestowed accolades, Marissa. It is a beautiful story and very touching. (Not meant as pun.) If I can make a tiny suggestion, I'd revise it to the "uncorked bottle of champagne" left on the table. Very minor.

    Lovely writing, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  33. ahhhh well done!
    I could really seem him and all his actions.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great slice of life! Your descriptions wow me -- I can see the whole thing clearly in my head, and even better, can feel with the characters. Nicely done!

    CD

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is wonderful throughout and that last line is gold.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Reflective, melancholy, yet--so human. Wonderful piece. Its effect is lingering...

    ReplyDelete
  37. Well, everyone's said it already Marisa -this is superb. I have to say, I was a bit nervous for a while, thinking he may pull out a gun or something. I'm so glad he didn't, but still, very sad.
    Your stories just get better every week.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Delicious descriptions. You always immerse me in your setting and I enjoy it immensely.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I love the descriptions that you used in this piece. It really makes the scene pop. The interesting way that the man tastes the words. I also liked the metaphor of the champagne left out overnight.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Well done. A simple snap shot of life that means so much.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  41. Agree - excellent little snapshot of a moment in time - with barely any description at all, you convey the transient's life to us - his upward stare, the careful whetting of his fingers. How sad and perfect.

    DJ

    ReplyDelete
  42. We're all so different yet so much the same, right?

    Loved this and the ending... perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  43. "The job is as flat and warm." is a beautiful metaphor.

    This is a strong character/narrator - I think you should develop this into a longer piece.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Interesting people watching piece. The connections between the homeless guy and the 'successful' business person are well drawn without telling.

    Great last line too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  45. Poignant. I love coffee shops of the non-chain variety for this very reason.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I liked this story. It's warm and sad at the same time. There is some sort of longing pulsing in the background that speaks to me.

    ReplyDelete
  47. We are more similar than we are different, despite the clothes we wear.

    Being an outsider makes the world sharp, painful to move about in. Most of us will experience thisr feeling at some point. Yet, tragically (as you point out) despite its universal nature, the feeling often only deepens the divide.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Nice slice of life. Great connection with the narrator and the man at the end.

    ReplyDelete
  49. We all know this man but we didn't all write his story...wonderful...

    ReplyDelete
  50. football shirts, http://www.cheapfootballshirt.org.uk/
    michael kors outlet, http://www.michaelkorsoutletcanada.in.net/
    nike air force 1, http://www.airforce1.us.com/
    soccer jerseys, http://www.soccerjerseys.us.com/
    mulberry outlet, http://www.mulberryoutlet.com.co/
    lacoste polo shirts, http://www.lacostepoloshirts.cc/
    michael kors outlet, http://michaelkors.outletonlinestores.us.com/
    ralph lauren uk, http://www.ralphlauren-outletonline.co.uk/
    toms outlet, http://www.tomsoutlet-stores.com/
    polo ralph lauren, http://www.poloralphlauren.us.org/
    nike free uk, http://www.nikefreerunning.org.uk/
    ralph lauren outlet, http://www.ralphlaurenoutlet.in.net/
    christian louboutin, http://www.scarpelouboutin.it/
    michael kors handbags, http://www.michaelkorshandbagsoutletstore.us.com/
    cheap nhl jerseys, http://www.nhljerseys.us.com/
    the north face clearance, http://www.thenorthfaceclearances.us.com/
    north face outlet, http://www.thenorthface.me/
    rolex watches uk, http://www.rolexwatches-uk.co.uk/
    coach outlet online, http://www.coachoutletonline-store.us.com/
    louis vuitton bags, http://www.louisvuittonbag.us.com/
    mbt shoes, http://www.mbtshoesoutlet.us.com/
    chanel handbags, http://www.chanelhandbags-outlet.us.com/
    michael kors outlet, http://www.michaelkorsoutletusa.net/
    cheap oakley sunglasses, http://www.cheapoakleysunglassess.us.com/
    the north face uk, http://www.thenorthfaces.org.uk/
    jordan shoes, http://www.jordan-shoes.us.com/
    hollister uk, http://www.hollistershirts.co.uk/
    oakley sunglasses, http://www.wholesaleoakleysunglasses.us.com/
    abercrombie and fitch, http://www.abercrombie-fitch.us.com/
    0924maoqiuyun

    ReplyDelete
  51. a given article is very interesting and very useful for my admin thank you very much and sorry for my permission to share the article here :

    Obat infeksi lambung
    Cara menghilangkan bekas luka bakar
    Cara menghancurkan lemak di perut

    ReplyDelete