Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The place had only been open for three days and renovations were still in progress. Jack and Howarth were putting up the last panel of wall covering, thick vinyl of brown with pink polkadots that grew in size from left to right. Half inch-square bathroom tile and half hardwood floors, the room had a feeling of unease. The tiles covered more than half the venue, a mosaic of taupe, green, brown, red, and baby blue. The counter lined one entire wall, complete with pastry display case, drink cooler, and walkway to the back kitchen. The centerpiece of the room was a light fixture hanging over the twin LaMarzocco espresso machines. It was as long as a man is tall, suspended horizontally. Two bulbs were surrounded by an oblong, skeleton of light pine that evoked the idea of an overgrown crocodile. The hue of the wood matched the shade of the hardwood floors. The back wall was a backlit red screen behind a wooden terrace of more matching wood.

Jack and Howarth dressed casually, more like artists than contractors. Jack wore blue, faded jeans with a black jean vest and burnt orange long-sleeve shirt. Howarth had on a light grey hooded sweatshirt. Three girls who could've been sisters worked the place, though little work was required during these first few days of business. Mostly, they stood idle or carried supplies past Jack and Howarth from the back room.

The place was replete with newness, from the hired help to the pristine chairs and appliances. With the newness came hope; the hope, for some, that the place would soon become worn in and comfortable, and for others, that the place would soon be profitable. Soon, the scent of hope would give way to achievement or loss. Such is the nature of new beginnings.


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