The coffee shop was bustling with people devouring their coffees. The chatter that filled the large hall was only made bearable by the sound of those quiet minds that read their books and newspapers. Clanking of cutlery permeated from across the coffee bar, as well as the ruffling of paper from every corner, and the lips of people who each had nothing particularly interesting to say.
Ezra sat in his chair straight, looking right at the clock on the other side of the room. He was waiting for it to strike 1 PM. He waited patiently, but could no longer muster balance, so he called for the waiter and got himself a small coffee. He wore his best suit. Grey, stylish, with a burgundy skinny tie, not so different from those movies he watched all the time. His dark hair slit back. He feared that he might have put on too much grease.
He did not want to look greasy, as the thought made him even more nervous. He looked at his hands they were sweaty. He immediately saw a spot on his right shoe that was not there that morning. He quickly took a napkin off his table to remove it. He was happy once he did so successfully.
Ezra did not know what he did. Well, he did know what he did. He worked as an accountant for some firm. The real question however is why? Even he did not know the answer to that. His father was an accountant, and his parents only forced it upon him as a child. His mother, Agatha, was a mean woman. She forced him to do many things, and now even when he was living on his own, she still reminded him once in a while that he needed her for everything. He did not need her he thought, how could anyone but his poor old dad? A desolate man, lost and confused as a result of his wife in the first place.
The waiter made his way across the room and asked him if he wanted anything, in which he replied with a stern “No,” and explained awkwardly, as we all have to sometimes, that he was waiting for someone. Now he wondered if she did not show up what would the waiter think of him? He would laugh probably. How about the people that overheard their conversation nearby. They would also laugh. Ezra tried not to think about it.
“Where is she” he thought? Surely she should be here by now. I mean he did say 1 PM although he really meant 12 PM, but where is she? The sound of chatter that surrounded him only intensified as he tried to recollect his thoughts. Nothing happened. She was not even there and he could barely maintain his wit. His hands began to shake slightly at the thought of seeing her come through that door. What would he say? Why would he say it? Still nothing was worse than if he just said the wrong thing. What would she think? Probably nothing.
He could not believe that she accepted to see him. In fact that probably meant that she would indeed show up. The clock hit 1 PM and Ezra relaxed a little bit. His phone rang, and on the other end the voice said:
“Hey, I am so sorry I can’t make it. My boyfriend is sick and I have to pick him up from work”
“It’s okay” he replied. He heard the click on the other side, and the line cut out. He knew of course she had a boyfriend, but he did not care, maybe somehow she would come to like him. What a foolish thought that was.
Ezra got up sluggishly to leave the coffee shop. Outside it seemed surreal how quiet it was when compared to the clattering of caffeinated people’s voices. It was warm, as the sun shone throughout the streets of the city. He knew now that there was a good chance that he would never be able to find a girl just for him. He told his mother that he did not care if she was Jewish or not, but both of his parents insisted that she should be. Rosa’s mother was Jewish, ethnically, but she herself did not even know what Shabbat was. It did not matter now, she had a boyfriend anyways. She did not even want to see him. What did he expect, that some girl would fall in love with an accountant just like that? He might as well let it go.
There are literally only a few thousands Jewish girls left in the entire city that are even dateable. Most of them would probably would not even go near him. He should know, because they really didn’t. It is pointless to even dream about it. He walked out of the old city centre and on his way to his apartment he crossed an old shul. He looked at it, and immediately thought of the people that built it. They are dead. Did they have girl problems? Probably. He lit up a cigarette and continued on his way.
In his apartment, his small desk was cluttered with papers, books, and his computer. Few people knew that he spent his time writing fantasy novels. In fact, the truth is that nobody knew. He managed to finish four but they had never seen the light of day. One of them was a historical-science-fiction novel about how extraterrestrial helped Moses part the sea. In his version of the story, the Jewish people did not traverse the desert for 40 years until they reached their homeland on Earth, but in fact did so on Mars. The truth is that Ezra was a bit odd.
He sat down and began to write. The thought of Rosa of course filled his head again, but what could he do now? Well he could call her he thought, but what use would that be?
“Just let it go” he shouted.
He got tired of writing so he went over to his small bed, and fell asleep. The sound of people sipping their coffees was still echoing in his ears.
The next day after seven hours of gruelling work, Ezra decided to go inside a small bookshop. The smell of damp mold filled his lungs, making him sick, but in a bittersweet kind of way, filled with nostalgia for the love of literature. As always he went over to his fantasy section, filled with all kinds of forgotten authors. He loved to read Communist fantasy literature from the Soviet era, because it was so silly, that even he, the author of the Aliens-Moses book, found odd. Books were stacked at random, so that meant that it would take a good amount of time to go through everything to find something he would like.
He picked up a book with a grey cover, the title of which has no real importance, he looked through it attentively making sure that it had just the right amount of fantasy to suit his liking. He soon decided that he wanted the book, and just as he made his way to the counter he heard a voice.
“Hey I wanted that, I picked it up two minutes ago, and put it down. It’s mine.”
He looked to his side and saw a small woman with curly hair, large framed glasses and thin physique. She had freckles all across her arms, but her face was a pale white. She remained fixated on the book in his hands.
“Well sorry, but its mine now, I found it. You put it down.”
“What? No.. its mine. I found it. What are you a child? Give me the book, there are so many in this shop you could easily find your own,” she snarled.
Ezra’s palms began to sweat at the sound of her voice.The book stuck even closer to his hands as his clammy palms acted as an adhesive. She was very attractive. He, as always, did not know what to say. What could he say to her?
“What’s your name?” she asked
“How about you?”
“Well, Ezra how about you give me the book so I can buy it, and when I am done we could meet up and I could give it to you”
She grabbed the book from his hand, handed him her number and walked off to buy it. Ezra could not believe his luck. And her name is Netanya — she was surely Jewish!
“Still when should I call her?” he whispered to himself as he walked out of the shop.
His walk home was joyous, he even patted the ragged dog that hung around the entrance of his building. Something he had never done in his life. He ran upstairs, and spent his entire evening writing about nothing in particular really, but whatever came to mind. He wrote about some wizards, and even about some goblins. At one point he actually needed to catch up on some work on an account that was assigned to him. But as he filled in those sheets with calculations he still thought about little stories in his head.
It was not long until he called Netanya. In fact it was about 24 hours, give or take. She picked up and told him that she had finished the book, and they should meet up for a coffee so she could give it to him. After the call Ezra’s head was spinning with joy, as he did not even have to set up the date, because she had done so.
The night before the date, he ironed his best shirt, and his skinny red tie, he put his grey suit out, and cleaned his shoes. As he went to sleep, he could see the suit in the dark, and only thought of the moment he would see Netanya again. At this point he did not care about the book at all, but hoped he could find some common interests between the two. What could they talk about? His mind raced again, and he began to sweat out all his worries that convoluted his body. Maybe this was the girl, the one that he wanted, the one he needed. He began to fantasize about them being together, and even taking her to meet his mother.
His mother. That overbearing, over-protective, over-eating hag of a mother that had probably caused a great deal of the things that was wrong with Ezra. He knew himself that there was something wrong with the way he interacted with people, but he could not let that get in his way now. Nor his mother. After they finished talking over the phone, as they always did every night for twenty minutes as was customary since he moved out, he really felt he despised her. It did not matter now.
The smell of coffee filled the entire coffee shop. This time however the smell did not come from the coffee cups, rather from people’s mouths that kept moving up and down producing imperceptible sounds about nothing of relevance. Coffee breath is what filled the hall, and that of fresh newspapers that also talked about nothing of particular relevance. The clattering of cutlery was still there, familiar to Ezra’s ears. He ordered himself a small coffee and waited patiently.
He felt relaxed, his hands were not sweaty. He did not shake. He even saw a small spot on his trousers, but he did not care about it. It surely did not matter now as Netanya was the one who set this up. Ezra did not mind the clock at all. In fact he did not even look at it once.
When the arm hit 1 PM however he began to tense up. “I knew it” he thought. “I knew that she would not show up. Ha, what a fool I have been to even show up myself. This is a joke. Why did I think this time it would be any different? What is the point?”
At that moment his phone rang. He picked up. The voice said: “I’m sorry Ezra I can’t make it, my brother is sick and I have to pick him up from work”.
Ezra thought: “Why would they walk 40 years through the deserts of Mars?”