Pam said Finn and I should talk. Actually she said, “Maybe you should talk.” She had the maybe part right.
Hard for us to talk when he’s never home. He works mornings and he works nights. I don’t think he works every night, but somehow he’s never home at night. I said, “Maybe what we should talk about is that we’re not running a hotel. Maybe he should pay rent.” But I don’t think that’s where she wanted this to go.
So I took the initiative. That’s me. I always take the initiative. I went into this cafe where he’s been working. It’s where the Corner Cafe used to be, except they’ve changed the name to the Pie Creek Cafe. I don’t know why you’d name a cafe after a little creek that barely runs most of the year. No wonder the cafe is barely making it.
When I opened the door a little cowbell rang that they had hanging from the handle. The kitchen, the grill is all open to the door and the front windows, and there’s a bar that runs along the wall opposite. There were a lot of guys in there, sitting at the counter. I was a little surprised. Finn was standing over the grill, flipping something, but then he turned back to the guys at the counter, like he was in the middle of a joke. His eyes raised and caught mine, just for an instant. But that killed the conversation. It sort of trailed off. A guy on the end — I’ve known his face for years, can’t remember his name — turned around. He nodded, and smiled just a little, and turned back to the cup of coffee.
Finn came over. He had more of a smile than I’ve seen at home in awhile. “Hi Dad! Surprised to see you!” He said, “There’s coffee over there.” I turned but I didn’t see it right away. The guy on the end who I recognized but still could not remember his name, he pointed. I got a cup of coffee and sat back down. They were talking about the basketball playoffs. I don’t really care for basketball, of all the sports, so I didn’t know about the teams or the players they were talking about, like who should have done better in the game last night, which team is getting whipped. I was surprised how much Finn knew about it. I guess he keeps the TV on in the bar and catches it. I still can’t quite believe he’s working in that place.
I took a sip of the coffee, and it was that kind of thick, bitter stuff like they make at fancy restaurants in big cities. Not like you expect to get here. I guess I’m a plain guy. I like the kind of stuff people make in their houses. Like they always served in this cafe. But the guy next to me held up his cup and smiled and said, “Best cup of coffee in a hundred miles.” I raised up my cup, as if we were toasting. At the same time, I was thinking, What are you talking about?
There were six or seven guys in there, so there was no way to talk. Finn brought my eggs over and we talked for a few minutes, but it was just the same kind of chatter as with the other guys. Friendly, casual stuff. After a while a few of the guys got up and left and I thought, Well, I’ll sit here for a few more minutes and then we can talk a little. But then the bell jingled and two of the guys at the counter called out a welcome to a couple other guys who were just coming in. They came over with their cups of coffee from the self-serve pot — I guess I was the only one who couldn’t figure it out. And then they sat down. I was surprised, there was a steady stream of people coming through there. I hadn’t know.
Finn came over again but it was clear we weren’t going to be able to talk. As I’d expected. Just chit-chat, casual talk. I don’t know why women always think talking is going to solve anything. It never does.