It was the first coffee shop I found there, where I met a man who played guitar. We went out and drank together, and I tried to keep up, sipping. The lights at his place were always out. I wore tall boots and learned to find my way around it. He had a big piano and played nocturnes. He let me play too and I didn't care how bad I sounded. We went there, to that cafe, every morning -- just me and the guitar man. He was tall with glasses, always hung-over from tequila. I drank beer when I was with him. He bought my coffee, cold. I gave him rides. I met another pianist, then moved far for a job that was supposed to make me happy. He has dark hair and an accent, two pianos I only touch when he’s away. I dust them carefully. Sometimes when he is sleeping with his earplugs, I sit on the bench and press the pedals very slightly. It has been years. It takes hours for me to drive there. Sometimes the old one comes into the café. He says hello to my boyfriend and they shake hands like strangers. Sometimes I go there alone, where I sit and sip. I sit and sip and sit and sip and sit and sip like rocking. On the chairs. They are old and look drunk.
The lips got darker as the night wore. I watched the host remove his noodles, tipping the pan, the steam rising through his nostrils. He sprinkled it with cheeses, saying, “Protein.” The guests belonged to Gold’s Gym, where they trained their muscles, lifting. I went from time to time, when I was in town, visiting my partner, sprinting on the treadmill. The host’s wife drank H2O, and the host refilled everyone’s Merlot. I asked for Diet 7-Up, though it wasn’t what I wanted. The redhead asked for a dry martini. The lesbian pair dirty-danced and talked about their wedding. Kisses, their Persian cat. There was one old man who was shirtless, and seven other couples: a pharmacist, a pianist, physician. The host was a director, Puerto Rican. My partner, Greek, composed. There was a writer and an artist, a speech therapist and a man who taught history at the high school. A gay guy, African-American at the college. There were others, some were students. Me, who was I? The host, he put in tango. Some of us sat on chairs, some went into the kitchen. I ate a bread slice, and saw the rest of them, calling the food tasty. People switched and twirled. I said to the host’s wife, Groovy, ain’t it? My partner tried to dance with me, like it was the bedroom. I stepped back and went to other persons. I watched their mouths like they were family. My partner came back. “Hi,” he said. His lips were dark and sloppy, kind of temporary, though he always told me otherwise.