The line to the bank teller slogged along. I looked at my hands. I looked at the floor. Then I heard a muffled belch and saw your face burrowed in your mother’s shoulder, eyes focused on me, brow furrowed quizzically. I proceeded with a procession of funny faces. You looked startled and turned away, then turned back with two jagged teeth dividing your smile, chins folding in on one another with a Hitchcock-esque precision. We traded faces until your mother answered to the call of “next” and slobber descended onto her shoulder.
My shirt was a Rorschach of sweat when I entered the Skytrain. The only handles available were of head height so I had no choice but to submit the rest of the passengers to whatever smells emanated from my arm pit. Our eyes met and I smiled. You smiled back. It was hard not to return to your gaze and only did so again once before departing.
The next day I returned to the Skytrain at an arbitrary time and station, found a seat, sat down and looked up to see you doing the same. I smiled. You got off at the next stop.
Your humour was dry, your questions bland but when you critiqued our answers there was an added dynamic and spark in your voice. Sorry for picking my nose and leaving the booger stuck to the thirty-sixth page of “The Complete Manual of Typography.”
The kitchen was hot. I came out to the front–behind the counter–to deliver some plates, smell the samosas and wait for any breeze to find its way through the open front door. You were in line and wearing a tattered shirt I was certain I’d seen you fall in hundreds of times before. When you were finished you cleared your own table, which was nice.
Rain pelted the brim of your glittery ball cap as you tried to convince us you didn’t steal the bike you were pushing up the street. We moved under the shelter of an awning as you continued on with your unsolicited defence. My friend was smoking and exhaled an indifferent “No” after your arms raised while exclaiming “Do I look like a thief?” I considered asking if you had ever stolen any hearts but decided against, worried that you had.
“Heeeeeere is your Half Turkey-Panini with cup of corn chowder.” You breezed while floating around the table. “Natural all-beef burger with bacon and Gorgonzola? Oh Yeaaah. Smells ammazing.” I looked to the others for any signs of acknowledgment or appreciation of your enthusiasm.
When we had finished you were upon us with a quickness and intuition only known by masters of your craft. All of our plates were stacked neatly on your arm when I finally noticed that it wasn’t. The smooth, beige, baton-like prosthetic balanced the remnants of our food like an infant on a mother’s knee – I felt a certain comfort. “Ooooh, you’re paying with debit? You’ll have to go up to the front to do that. Our machine is immmmobile.” You consoled.