Prose

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Tonight We're Gonna Dance, Like We've Never Danced Before.

written by: benjamincava

Hand in hand, stumbling through the half-soaked streets blinking heavily with eyelids made from double cream, heading in the general direction of home, wherever that might be. We tight-roped across the pale yellow pathways, laughing, hiccoughing, silently singing each others praises to the red sky. According to my absent-minded influence we slowed down in front of the same spot I always slowed down to feast on the smells of hot brodjes and crispy frittes.

"Mmm, something smells good!" Minnie excalimed. "Actually, I'm very hungry, shall we stop and share some chips?" As though it were as easy as that, just stopping to get frittes as you pleased. Stopping to eat, when ever it should take your fancy.



A moment later we were stepping cautiously inside, the way late night drunks might when they haven't quite drank enough to lose their manners. The place was empty besides a gang of three, one woman and two men, all mid-to-old age. They sat at a table down front amongst the scattered signs of a lovingly ran family business. The lady, obviously the owner, greeted us cordially as she got up from her throne. She spoke of course in Dutch, but none of her warmth was lost in translation. I awkwardly pieced together a few foreign words in reply. The two men, who wore expressions that suggested we had just stirred them from a most serious debate, stopped to listen as I fumbled over their clunky language.



"Kunnen… we still get…some frittes, alstublieft?" I asked them sheepishly.



"Ja, Ja, Ja." The proprietoress answered with a familiar smile.



They were drinking too, or they just had been, for on the table they were gathered around were three stubby cans of bier. Just three cans mind, nothing excessive, they savour their drinks in these parts, take their time over them, sipping in between sentences, always listening to see what their company has to say instead of jumping at the chance to have theirs. I saw all this but still I spoke, quite unintentionally mind. This time round I opted for plain English.



"So, you're just chillin' huh?" I asked nervously and regretted doing so almost immediately. In my stupor I hadn't recognised that there was no pressing need for small talk, I should have just kept quiet and left the talking to Minnie, I thought to myself.



"Chillin‘?" The older of the two man said with an air contemplation, as though he might be weighing up exactly what the question was before he answered it. "Ja, I like that, we‘re just chillin‘."



I decided that the man who spoke had, prior to our intrusion, been leading the discussion. As I mentioned, he was the oldest and though I think I had only heard him utter that one brief sentence, already there was something about him I liked. He spoke calmly, with self-assurance and though he was obviously well learned he didn't take himself too seriously, I liked that most. One could see this just by looking at him, dressed in thigh high black leather boots, faded denim jeans, a long wax jacket and finished with a beaten black cap pulled low to his brow.



"I'm the blind guy who lives round these parts." he offered after a short but comfortable silence, touching the brim of his cap.



"Ahh, I'm from round these parts too," I said "though I've not seen you before, if you'll pardon the pun."



"No, me neither." He said gaily, obviously enjoying his retort. "But you two are together though, yes? I can see that despite only having 3% sight."



"Well, not exactly" Minnie interjected, "He lives here, I live there, you know?"



By there she meant London, which I sensed had already somehow cropped up, perhaps during that short but comfortable silence I have just mentioned. Which, now come to think of it hadn't been as short or as silent as I had just led you to believe. Minnie had probably been chatting away the whole time, while I stood swaying; lost in my own thoughts, half listening, half thinking too hard on whether or not I looked like I was listening. I laughed to myself at how absurd this was and as I did, I slipped cheerfully into my little drunken world…



"So, how long are you out here?" The blind man asked, startling me.



"Erm.. I'm not quite sure yet… until I run out of money.. or energy, I guess."



"Do you wait tables?" Asked the other man, who up until this point had not managed to get a word in.



My eyes narrowed as I stood there, contemplating, trying to think of a delicate way of saying how much I despised waiting tables.



"Him?" Minnie laughed, "He's far too clumsy."



"Oh!" the blind man cut in, "It's too bad he's not gay then, I do like a clumsy man."



Minnie laughed nervously.



"Don't feel threatened my dear" he continued, "I'm not about to steal him from you, I'm going be a Grandfather next month. Yes, my daughter is in full bloom, as James Joyce might say."

"Yes!" he exclaimed, "my father gave me seeds to sew, do you know it? Marvellous book. They are all grown, the seeds I've sewn, and now they are about to sew their own. Anyway, where do you live?"



"Just around the corner, on Albert Cuypstraat" I answered.



"Oh, what a fun place to live. Claustrophobic though, I imagine?"



"Yes, not least because I'm sharing a one bedroom studio with a couple."



"Oh." he hesitated, "that simply won't do."



I looked at Minnie with a raised eyebrow.



"No, no no that won't do at all." he continued "Well, I am going away at the end of this month for a while, perhaps the both of you should rent my place while I‘m gone. You can have it cheap, of course…"



"What a mad and beautiful city this is." I said slowly under my breath, laughing heartily and slipping further into my drunken little world.


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