Cafe' Encounters - Part 4
A Sweet Distraction!
I struggled as I attempted to bring my thoughts in line with what I had been doing. However, I realized that my day and its routine had already been invaded. First with the slightly unpredictable Mr. Beaker, and now with Clancy. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Furtively I took a fleeting look at her. I decided right there and then that she was definitely a distraction. A type of distraction that I hadn’t had to deal with for a number of years. So, why now and why her? I hadn’t had more than a passing interest in a woman for longer than I could remember. What is it about her? Disquieted by the puzzle I gave my head a shake. I closed my eyes in desperation of finding the quiet place in my heart with God. Lord, help me to focus on what You have before me, and gave my heart over to Him.
The next half an hour or so passed with no disruptions, that is until the alarm on my watch alerted me that I had fifteen minutes to get to the Bible Study I was to lead that morning. Slurping down the last of my now cold coffee I glanced at Clancy. With head bent, her dark auburn hair created a veil of protective privacy that I was loath to invade. Her pen furiously moving across her paper she seemed lost in the world of her own making. Quietly I reached for my overcoat while at the same time slipping my Bible into my briefcase.
Standing I turned to the window and noticed for the first time the weather which had developed in the time I was in the café. The world outside was now completely lost in whiteness. I couldn’t even see the sidewalk, never mind across the street.
“Well would you look at that!” halting midway from donning my coat. Clancy, caught by the note of amazement in my voice, looked up and gasped as she looked outside.
“Oh my gosh” staring at the scene outside the window.
The Snow Storm
“Well, I don’t think any of us will be going anywhere for a while” I said, looking to see who was left in the café. Jill, came from behind the counter, joining us at the window.
“Ya, no wonder it’s been so quiet in here. Look...” giving me a nudge, “ Mr. Briggs has even been able to fall asleep.” grinning and motioning towards an older gentleman who’s head rested on his chest while his newspaper had slid from his lap halfway to the floor. “I guess he had no need to complain about the noisy doorbells today.” Clancy stood and nervously walked to the window to check down the street.
“I can’t see anything” she declared “I don’t think they expected a snow storm like this…at least I wasn’t aware of a weather warning.”
“Well…” said the ever helpful Jill, picking up our empty cups, “the weather channel did warn that we would have snow this morning and to be on alert… but who ever believes them? I guess they were right this morning…go figure” and holding up our cups she offered, “Wana refill? You might as well…oh and it’s on the house. Too much to throw away…”
Dropping my coat on the chair again, I looked at my watch, “do you know how long this might last? Did they say on the weather?”
“No…but it doesn’t look good, so?” holding up the empty cups.
“Okay sure, thanks Jill…Clancy, do you want another coffee?” Not sure if she had heard the offer. But there was no answer, so I took it upon myself to give Jill the go-ahead. If Clancy drank it fine, if not, no loss, they were throwing it away in a while anyway. The Café had this rule about fresh coffee, so coffee never sat in the pot for more than half an hour. Well, if this didn’t quit soon there would be no Bible Study this morning.
“Listen…” called Jill returning with our coffees from the counter, startling Mr. Briggs awake with a snort, and Jill to giggle, “I found the weather station.” But it was far from giggling news, a severe weather warning was in effect, and all people were advised to stay in where they were. We all looked out the window where the white-out situation caused everything on the street to come to a complete stand still. We were snow locked in a another world and space.
“Well…we might all be staying the night…” boomed Mr. Briggs, breaking the surreal sensation, “Have you got any blankets stashed back there girlie?” he said, shaking his cane at Jill. But now even Jill started to take the storm seriously,
“”Really Mr. Briggs, you think we may be stuck here?” her face going pale.
“No Jill…” I answered before Mr. Briggs could make things worse, “it’ll be okay, don’t worry, we really can’t know how long this will last but I’m sure by the time your shift is done, it’ll be over” giving her young shoulders a friendly squeeze, “ It’s been years since we’ve had a storm this bad. Isn’t that right Mr. Briggs?” Looking to him to help me keep things in perspective.
“Well, young sir…let me tell you, I can remember many a bad storm. Why there was one in which I…”
“Yes…I’m sure there was, but that was long ago” I jumped in quickly, realizing, Mr. Briggs, instead of being a help was starting in on a tangent of horror stories. Jill moved to Clancy at the window. Clancy had stood mesmerized by the storm since her first nervous observation of it.
“Do you have to be somewhere?” asked Jill, wiping at the window with her cloth like she could wipe the snow away, “It’s not friendly snow out there is it? It’s coming down in a fury.”
“Friendly snow?” I asked joining them.
“Ya, you know, like snow at Christmas that’s just floating down from the shy, the kind that makes you want to take a long walk in it. Not like this. This snow…” pointing at the swirling mass just outside our barrier, “it’s not the least inviting. I wouldn’t want to be out there for nothing. You know what I mean” and Jill turned to Clancy again. Getting no answer from Clancy, she touched her arm,
“You okay?” Jill asked her. Startled, Clancy stepped away from the personal touch.
“Oh…yes, yes I am, I’m sorry…I got lost in the… the…swirl of the snow, I missed your question, which was…”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to startle you. I just asked if you had someplace you had to be, nothing urgent” said Jill, moving away in the embarrassment of having assumed to breech the clerk-patron relationship. But Clancy reached out a hand in apology,
“I’m sorry…Jill...is it?” and at Jill’s nod continued, “ I just startle easy…didn’t mean to sound spooky.” shrugging her shoulders. Jill, who never held grudges, quickly accepted the apologies,
“No worries” she said smilingly, and added, “ so do you?” Clancy looked puzzled and glanced at me for help but all I could do was shrug and raise my eyebrows to indicate I was a s lost as she. Catching that Jill laughed,
“Sorry, I’m so scattered sometimes. Do you have somewhere you have to be?” explained Jill
“Oh no…nothing important ” Clancy replied but turned back to the storm with a crease in her forehead. I was mystified at Clancy’s reaction. She had no where to be, we were safe, the café even had the fireplace in case the power went out but still she was worried. Maybe she’d been caught in a bad storm before? The thought reminding me of others that might be nervous about the storm. I returned to my seat and about to sit down, caught sight of a customer at the counter.
“Jill…” I said pointing to the front.
“Oh thanks…um” giving me a questioning look.
“Oh, the name’s Ryan”
“Ryan” snapping her fingers, “great and thanks” moved towards the counter. As she passed me Jill whispered confidentially, “even in a storm, business is business I guess” smiling in spite of the harsh sentiment. I decided I might as well try and catch up on some reading the morning had stole from me. But first,
“Clancy?” and at her turn, “Jill brought fresh coffee.”
“Oh thanks, I’ll be right there.”
“Sure, just wasn’t sure if you caught that” I explained as she gave a final lingering look out the window.
“I hadn’t…” she said quietly, then more anxiously, “Ryan…is that someone walking?” turning back with a look of concern.
“Can’t be, who’d be out in this?” getting up to have a look. “Where?” She pointed across from the café. At first, although looking intently, I couldn’t see a thing…
“Hm-m I don’t see any…hey wait, there is…and they just fell…what crazy fool…and with that wind.” Turning I headed for the door, grabbing my coat on the way, “Jill, get a hot drink ready would you, we have someone struggling out there.”
“Can you see where you’re going?” called Mr. Briggs gruffly as he stood, “Maybe we should tie a rope on you.”
“No, no…if I can see them I should be able to find my way back. It’s only across the street.”
I stepped out into the blast of a very unfriendly wind. The snow stung violently as it whipped against my face. Turning up my collar and tucking my chin down, I tried to get a bead on where I had seen the person go down. Just up past the lights I thought. And just as I stepped out of the sanctuary of the doorway, the wind picked up strength and instantly the air turned white about me.A momentary sense of unbalance hit me as I felt in cased in snow and didn’t know up from down, or right from left. I dropped to one knee and prayed for God to help me get to whoever it was. I can’t see in this stuff Lord, help me. And the wind blew with gale force straight into my face.
But along with the wind came a faint cry of help. Thanks Lord I prayed and unsteadily moved slowly into the direction of the sound. The wind bite viciously at my cheeks and nose. I wished I had taken the time to grab my gloves as my fingers became tingly with cold. I kept my eyesdown, focusing at my feet, one step at a time I coached myself. Suddenly I bumped into the curbopposite the Café.Breathing a sigh of relief I stepped up and reached for the pole. Turning my back to the wind, I stood a bit to catch my breath. I was astounded at the complete blindness I felt in this swirl. Oh God help me. I turned then and slid each foot forward carefully and tried to keep track of how far away I moved from the pole. Finally I felt my foot bump something. Stopping I heard a groan. Quickly I bent, searching for what I had hit. Discovering a boot I felt my way up the leg, and then up what looked like a man’s arm. I tried, unsuccessfully, wiping the snow away as I went. At last I reached the shoulders and turned the form gently as I didn’t want to hurt him. Gasping in disbelief, I recognized the white face of my friend, Mr. Sam Beaker.
©Ulrike Grace 2010