The Bohemian

Note: this is a short story I wrote for a competition in a group within the Art of Manliness community. I hope you like it. I’m open to constructive criticism, just leave a comment below or send me an email

It was nearing the end of autumn. The air outside the cinema on this particular Thursday evening was crisp, with a slight chill from the passing shower.

They were late.

Although the group had arranged to meet at 7pm, as always, the others were late. Perhaps, Joey thought, they may not be coming. And it was getting cold. Joey checked the large clock for the twentieth time. “Seven twenty. It looks like they’ll never show up”, he thought.

He checked the clock again. “Seven twenty-five! Well, it looks like they aren’t showing up if they aren’t here five minutes before the film starts. Oh well, I’ll go to that café round the corner I’ve been meaning to go to instead.”

The sign above the café entrance blazed in bright yellow neon ‘The Bohemian’, with ‘Bar & Café’ in small faded yellow lettering barely legible underneath. Even from outside, Joey could feel the warmth emanating from inside. The smell of roasting coffee beans wafting out onto the street was intoxicating. The first thing he noticed when he stepped inside was the spacious leather armchairs at every table, which where much less conventional than the standard wooden chairs most cafés offered. The second was the solitary tall blonde woman occupying the corner table, appearing to be more occupied with the goings on just outside the window than the coffee in front of her. Joey followed her gaze.

Joey, holding a black belt in both karate and tae-kwon-do, wasn’t afraid of a fight. The fight outside looked like madness compared to the structured martial arts he was used to. Joey could see many passers by stopped, staring like deer in headlights at the two burly men yelling and fighting. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, police sirens blared. The observers scattered, with only a few hanging around to see what would happen next.

After questioning the men and the spectators nearby, the constable stepped into the Bohemian for a drink. “Hey Joey, what’re you doing here?” he asked, his thick Italian accent apparent to all.

“Hey Chris!” he replied, large mocha in hand, “I’m just hanging out here before I head home.”

Two whiskeys and a hearty chat later, Chris was gone. Joey espied the blonde lady in the corner, still sipping her coffee. The thin foamy moustache adorning her upper lip attested to the frothiness of the coffee in front of her. Gathering up his jacket and scarf, he briskly strolled over to her table. Though she seemed to be noticeably taller than him, he didn’t show any trepidation as he approached her.

After buying her another coffee, he settled in to the copious amounts of space his armchair offered him. After an enthralling discussion about coffee, snow, the best film to watch on a cold night in and the fight earlier that evening, and many other things besides, Lauren seemed about ready to leave.

“Well, it was nice meeting you Joey.”

“Thanks. Likewise”, he instinctually responded. “Say, do you need dropping off anywhere?”

“Yea, that’d be great. Thanks. I live not far up the main road.”

As he was pulling up into her driveway, Joey decided to take his chances. “How about we meet again next week sometime, maybe over coffee?”

“That would be lovely. How about 7:30 on Monday evening at the Bohemian?”

“That sounds great. I’ll see you there.”

Joey drove home in the best mood he had been in since moving to Wellington two months ago. Out of all the women he had met so far in New Zealand, Lauren was the only one he was able to have a good long conversation with.

This was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.

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