Bartholomew Winfred II

torch-and-stumps

Ever since reading about making a half-knight move in chess, my mind had been cracked. It is of course something that cannot be imagined except to have imagined that such a thing is possible, when it is not. This strange little world of softly thatched roofs and straw hats a-tumble beside a nameless sea had always been a wonderland full of empty moon snail shells and bright red poppies blooming in the fields for me. And people, well, it had been obvious to them who I was, I suppose. I had been the man with seagulls sitting on his arms flapping and sunning their wings. The only talent I had had was that I tended toward merriment rather than despair, when the latter appeared to be the only rational and boastfully reasonable option left. But why live the obvious? It wasn’t that I disbelieved these; I did not. They were akin to leftover breadcrumbs on the table after eating a fine enough meal to be swept off onto the floor.

Ordering Another Coffee

araby

He was one of the kindest, or at least the warmest, men the boy had known. And he told the boy whenever he wanted another coffee just to call him, and how. The boy, a foreigner, sat around the café much of the days, playing cards with the others. Latiffe. Ghazi. Mohammed. The crew of boys. And many others. And whenever he wanted another coffee, he would cry out his cry to Araby, which he was told by Araby meant, “Araby! Please bring me another coffee!” And soon thereafter, held up high on his cork-top serving tray, Araby would come and, with a smile, maneuvering quickly through the small outdoor tables where all the boys continued to play cards as they had all summer, lay down before the boy his small coffee. This was a special privilege, in fact, afforded, or accorded, the boy. None of the other local boys had it. Araby took his time with them. But when he cried his cry, he did notice that their chins turned more toward their playing cards than other things, the way one does not completely give a smile away without actually hiding that smile. And all summer long it worked like this. “Araby!” he would begin his cry. And shortly after his having completed his command, his next cup of coffee would arrive very quickly, as if Araby himself had been keeping an eye on the moment when the boy would need another coffee. The boy was told by another that summer that all summer long he had been calling Araby to perform against him some kind of indecency which cannot be written of here, and not, “Please bring me another coffee!” This explained the smile on Araby’s face, the rapidity of his service, as well as everyone else’s shy smiling eyes turning away from him when he ordered.