Warning: Contains sexual references

Three years down the line Megan’s job is going well but there building work happening on across the road…


Present Day

Jimmy was at risk of chewing off his thumb as he stood near the café window staring across the road. Two side-by-side shops had been hiding behind white building panels for weeks and the mystery of what would emerge had been intensifying.

‘I bet it’ll be one of them cheap supermarkets,’ Nan said, taking her mug of tea off the tray before I had a chance to put it down. ‘I bloody love a bargain, I do.’

‘They don’t tend to do those in highstreets,’ I replied and put her slice of chocolate cake on the table beside the tea. ‘They’re not Tesco.’

‘Aye, well.’ She took a big bite of cake. ‘Not the same as homemade.’

‘It’s from a bakery,’ I said.

‘Not the same.’

I rolled my eyes and crossed to Jimmy. ‘Problem?’ I poked him lightly in the ribs.

‘I heard at the synagogue,’ he whispered, ‘and this is just I heard it from someone who heard it. Rumour is it’s going to be a chain coffee shop. They pop up and they close down the little places like us.’

‘I don’t know.’ I hugged the tray to me. ‘They opened that Greggs opposite a halal butchers and it didn’t last six months. Someone didn’t do their research.’

He nodded vaguely, still chewing his thumb. ‘Should’ve opened it here the number of bacon butties we sell.’

‘Never has one of those fancy pants places ever done a decent bacon sarnie,’ Nan called around a mouthful of cake, age had not withered her hearing a jot.

‘The coffee’s always burnt,’ Devon added. He and his husband Vincent were at their usual table playing chess and drinking buckets of coffee that surely didn’t help their pensioner hearts. We couldn’t have our customers having heart attacks before we had some younger replacements, most were regulars from the days Jimmy’s Mum ran Take a Bite Café.

Vincent nodded and knocked over one of Devon’s pawns.

‘Bugger,’ Devon muttered.

‘Young people love them,’ Jimmy said, still eyeing the white panels like they were going to bite him.

I gave him a look, thirty-seven wasn’t exactly doddering to the grave.

‘I don’t know,’ Nan said. ‘I hear indie places are very popular these days. Like their fancy coffees and their avocado toast, they do.’

I twisted to look at her. ‘Aye, apparently I’d be able to get a mortgage if I stopped buying coffee and avocado toast.’

Nan laughed. ‘Last time you had avocado you went as green as it was.’

‘Spreadable fruit.’ I shook my head. ‘It just ain’t right.’

Jimmy was grinning behind his fist.

I rubbed his back. ‘It’ll be fine.’

He sucked in a deep breath.

‘Keep looking sad and Meg might bestow some favours on you,’ Nan said. ‘If she leaves it any longer she’ll be calling in the Ghostbusters.’

Nan!’

Jimmy coughed.

I smacked his shoulder. ‘I don’t know what you’re laughing about, Casanotever.’

Devon and Vincent were suddenly so adsorbed in their game they might not hear the gossip. To be old and Northern you needed gossip like most people needed oxygen, it was a dangerous state of affairs.

‘Admit it, you’re cute couple,’ Nan said. ‘Especially now Jimmy’s shaved off that fuzz and you can see his pretty face.’

Jimmy stopped laughing. I stuck my tongue out at him.

‘You don’t want a beard.’ Nan got a pack of cards out of her voluminous leather handbag. ‘You want a man who licks clit like an ice cream cone, beards get covered in vag juice.’ She lay her cards out for a game of solitaire

Jimmy looked at me. I looked at him.

‘Ever informative, Rachel.’ Vincent raised his mug.

I smiled at Jimmy and rubbed his arm. ‘It’ll be fine.’ I collected Vincent and Devon’s mugs on my tray. ‘Same again?’

‘I haven’t changed my drink order since seventy-two,’ Vincent said.

‘I wouldn’t know,’ I said. ‘I wasn’t born.’

‘Walked into that,’ Devon murmured, setting up a fresh game.

‘All this talk of bacon sarnies has given me a craving,’ Nan said. ‘Be a dear, Jimmy.’

He finally detached his hand from his mouth. ‘Yes, Mrs D.’

‘Such a polite young man,’ she said.

We exchanged a look as he passed me setting up the machine for fresh coffees. Behind the counter his hand glided over my rear. I bit my lip, cleared my throat and focused on the machine, lest I risk a peek at him through the kitchen hatch and scald myself. Again.


Feature image by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

For more episodes of Take a Bite Cafe click here.

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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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