The Cafe

Sat outside a cafe, your mind reeling. It’d been a long night. Aggro had, for once, managed to pass you by. It seemed to be the sort of thing that was happening less and less frequently. Whether it be on the terraces, in a pub or at a dancehall it seemed to follow you around. A shadow you couldn’t be rid of. A stench surrounding you and your lot.

Not that you paid any mind to it. Violence was a part of your life. For all the hopeful optimism the country seemed to present outwardly, there was no shortage of angry lads at football grounds around London salivating at the thought of kicking some poor cunts head in. Just another one of the lot they’d say.

But they’d never understand you, no matter how many poncey University professors tried to nail down just what caused this affliction in the youth. They all gasp and recoil in mock horror when they hear whats going on in places like Bethnal Green and Bermondsey, but they sure as fuck like to read about it in the papers.

Somehow after a night spent on the dancefloor, your smooths still retained a parade ground polish. Although you couldn’t quite get the mirror effect out of them, the cold air escaping your gob was still noticeable. Your breath exiting and fading away. Sort of like your thoughts, here one moment and gone the next.

The chill was the sort that brought lads bundling into greasy spoons, the cold into their bones and a mug of tea and fry up the only thing that was going to rid them of it. That’s where the other lads had been off too. But this all too rare moment of reflection, in a life that seemed to be going a million miles an hour, was something that felt necessary.

Strangers look confused as they passed by, probably wondering what this young lad was doing out first thing in the morning, sat outside a cafe in a mohair suit. Feet tapping uncontrollably. They probably thought you were on drugs. They were right. Black bombers the fuel that kept you on the dancefloor for near the entire night.

It’d been the Four Aces in Dalston, reggae roaring out of the speakers that looked like wardrobes and bass rippling across the room ’til it hit you just right. That’s when you had to move. The selector had played the standards, the stuff that made everyone get up and move. But as the night wore on, into the deeper hours, and the respectable lot took off home to their families, the music changed.

Slowed down to rocksteady, the entire room taking on a different vibe. Boys and girls disappearing into the night together. It’d been only a few weeks before that’d been you, sneaking off with a bird. Things didn’t quite work out. She couldn’t quite wrap her head around why it was so important to travel to a place like Sunderland to punch a Mackem in the mouth. Who needed her anyway?

Life was too good to settle down with a bird, have her start thinking about silly things like marriage and children. As soon as you finished this cuppa, it was time to head back home. Pelliccis the first stop, if you were having a fry up it was bloody well gonna be a good one. Then you were off the see the tailor, check in on the Prince of Wales number you were having made up.

Then it’d be off to the record shops, spending what you could spare on the latest tunes. It drove everyone absolutely fucking mental when you had them ’round, throwing on one of the blank labels from Jamaica. Only you knew what the tune was, the poor cunts couldn’t even ask for the record by name. Maybe they’d give it a shot singing it for the shop owner, making a twat of themselves.

But for now? It was time to appreciate a all too infrequent moment of calm. Looking down the street, leaves strewn across the street. Orange and yellows. The colors of fall. Winter was fast approaching and fuck knows what it’d bring.

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