There was a line to the door. The coffee shop was loud, filled with human noise. The record had finished playing so I went into the designated room and changed records. Tommy Ramone had just died, so I put on Rocket to Russia.
I was taking a customer’s order and saw him come into the shop. He was holding the cookbook and some records I had left at his house. It was like taking a bullet to the chest. My hand was shaking as I wrote the customer’s name on the coffee cup.
I was wearing an olive green dress with polka dots and a sheer neckline. It used to be his favorite.
People kept ordering coffee as he crept closer and closer. All I could see was the green cookbook. I bet he forgot my measuring cup. When we were face to face I wanted to be someone else.
“Can I get you anything?”
“Can I get a Mexican coke?” he said. “How’s it going?”
I reached into the cooler and grabbed an ice-cold bottle.
“Really busy, but good.” He looked at me as if I knew what to do with the evidence he was holding.
“I brought this stuff you left at my place. What should I do with it?” he asked.
I wanted to ask why he was doing this in public.
Why are you doing this to me at work?
My heart was racing. I looked at the customers behind him. They looked uncomplicated and happy. I asked him to put the evidence in the coat closet.
He stood around for a few more minutes, talking to other people he knew. I wanted to know why he treated me differently, and then I remembered what was in the coat closet. He had given back to me the only things I knew how to share. And now they were lying on a floor.
I left work an hour later. When I got to my apartment I threw the evidence on the couch. The couch where we used to be happy. I picked up one of the records and put it on the turntable. I was alone.