amsterman

I’d only just flopped open my book when they arrived.  They could have been father and son, but didn’t appear to have that level of familiarity.  Nor did they look particularly similar.  The younger was in his early thirties and seemed to have decided it was his job to do the talking; the elder was knocking a well worn looking sixty.

“Tell me I haven’t forgotten my fags,” the young one said.  I groaned a bit inside.  Great.  They were going to disturb me from my book by talking, and they were going to poison my oxygen as well.  I hoped he had forgotten his fags.  “Nope, here they are.”  Bugger.  “Aah, that’s better,” he said, slumping onto his garden chair, belying an exhaustion at the end of a hard day’s toil.  It was half past two on a weekday afternoon though, so I cruelly judged that he and his companion had just come from the jobcentre, or possibly an alcoholics anonymous meeting.  They sat close by at the next table.  I sat with my back to them, annoyed that I couldn’t fail to hear them when I wanted to read.  “I think a holiday’s in order,” the younger continued, encouraged on in his monologue by no more than the faintest of acquiescent murmurs from his companion.  I’d read the same short paragraph in my book around four times.  “Yeah, Amsterdam I think.  Been there loads of times, of course.  You ever been?  No, lived there for a time.  Was still drawing my giro and getting it sent over.  Had a girlfriend out there, you see.”
“Ah, did ya..”
Yeah, did you?  Really?  Your Amsterdam girlfriend?
“Yeah, we lived together for a while in her Dad’s flat, so there was no rent to bother about, nothing like that.  She never asked me for no rent anyway.  Would’ve given her some if she’d asked, like.  But she never.  All ended quite abruptly though.”
“Ohh, why’s that then?” the older man softly drawled, exhaling tobacco smoke and capuccino breath with his words.
“We argued all the time.  She never liked me going out on the piss.  I weren’t playing around or nothing.  Just going to the bars and getting stoned, you know.  Think she got fed up and just kicked me out in the end.  Lovely girl, she was.”  A brief silence as they both reflected.  “Ah, hello Rosa.”

Their food came, served by the beautiful but distant eastern european waitress.  I put some music in my ears.

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