The mountains screamed wordlessly, his view of them from his chair outside the cafe, was partially obscured by the apothecary across the road and its proprietor. As he watched, the crumble-grey man stretched up to a blackboard suspended from a single nail and scratched ‘venta de liquidacion’ with a shard of chalk.
‘He is always closing’ said the waitress/manageress/shadow puppet.
‘More?’ she asked.
More undrunk coffee? More indigestible cake? More mountains? More time spit roasted under an indelible Spanish canopy? ‘No’ he replied, ‘no mas’
A few minutes later she returned with a steaming tray of oven fresh miniature torrijas, coated with cinnamon and suspended it under his nose. A lone cloud strolled aimlessly across the surface of the butter pools which dimpled each toastlet. He reached in to the tray and transported a slice to his plate with burning fingertips.
‘You need to eat’ she said.
‘Why?’ He asked.
She sighed, more in the direction of the pregnant clouds than at him and without replying she reentered the cafe and reignited the conversation with her mother/sister.
‘Why?’ he asked again as the kitten edged ever forward with cake gorged pupils.
Why? Why began in the Old Bailey on a bitterly wet-bone Wednesday in British summertime. It was a standard monkey-masked,
3 handed, tooled up, small beer, bank robbery, hostages, snipers, one of the gang funeralized, no civilian casualties, blood bath blah blah, his Honour Judge FF QC presiding.
‘What?’ asked Judge FF just after counsel for the prosecution had completed his closing submissions and groan-sat.
‘What?’ Asked counsel for the prosecution, his jelly glutes shuddering his roast potatoed frame back up to his feet.
‘What?’ Asked the nurse in the intensive care ward as he adjusted the intubation tube that fed into FF’s gaping unconscious mouth.
‘And he’s back in the game’ said the ICU consultant.
‘More?’ Asked Judge FF QC.
‘More?’ Asked counsel for the prosecution.
‘Cake’ replied FF, face smashing into his bench and thence below.
‘Is this a good thing?’ Asked bank robber two, leaning across to counsel for....
‘Yes’ replied the ICU consultant. ‘It means that with the right treatment there might be ...
‘A mis-trial’ replied counsel for the second Defendant over her shoulder as she rushed towards the FF QC in order to....
FF finger tipped his forehead. The scar from the bench collision described an angry arc. The kitten sat on his right foot, slurp-lap-chewing the cake. FF felt a little more....
‘Awake’ said the ICU nurse.
‘Where?’ Asked FF lift-flopping his hand back on to the bedsheet.
‘Court 4 of the Old Bailey’ said counsel for the second Defendant. She had reached Judge FF and placed him into the recovery position, smelting the white silk shirt under her robes with claret in the process. FF QC focussed on her face. Dandelion locks tweeled under her counsel’s wig, her eyeliner was over complicated...
‘The ICU at Westminster hospital’ said the Consultant, flickering her locks back behind her ears.
Her eyes were well begotten green, her expression, broad Yorkshire, her accent bewildered.
FF noticed a scar running from her Adam’s apple, down underneath the white silk shirt collar she wore below her...
‘La Familias, this is La Familias’ you collapsed in my cafe and so we moved you to the kitchen floor. I told you, you needed to eat.’
‘Your face is the...’
FF raised himself up on his elbows like a beetle that has righted itself after flipping on to its back.
‘How can you have the same face as...’
‘....... an ICU consultant and the manager of a cafe on a Spanish Island?’
‘I don’t know your honour. You hit your head on your bench so it must be...’
‘Concussion’ said the ICU consultant ‘because obviously I can’t be the same woman.’
‘Obviously’ said FF. ‘Or I suppose it is possible that I’m....’
‘Still unconscious as far as I can tell’ said the bus driver. She was aware that the engine was still running and the bus was sitting in the middle of three lanes of traffic. The passenger’s head had collided with the plexiglass with such force that either might have exploded. She pushed her dandelion locks behind her ears and looked at the face she held between her fingers.
The cigarette ash coloured kitten hopped up into the bus and sat in the aisle. After a minute it licked the back of its right paw luxuriously and began washing the top and sides of it’s head as it always did after a good meal.