Prologue – The Blue Coat - Daniel Hendrikx
There once was a boy in a big black coat.
The coffee shop was loud and bustling, but I didn’t mind. I had been coming here for months, just as some time away from schoolwork, and because it was a step outside my comfort zone. I sat with my tea and a book in hand, a copy of Andrew Clements’ Things Not Seen, but I wasn’t reading. I really was just there for the atmosphere. People came and went constantly, and the chatter was a sort of music to my ears. The colors, the sounds, the smells, it was all a good experience for me.
“Heads up,” Jon said, and I looked up at him with an eyebrow raised. His gaze was focused on the door to the street. I knew he was staring at some hot something-or-other, and I let him be. I looked over his shoulder at the people around the room, with a smile on my face.
I couldn’t remember for the life of me the reason I had started coming here. In the end I doubt I’d have wanted to remember. A rough summer hit me after the first week of college and since then I had been trying to settle back into everyday life. I had been trying to think and understand why I felt different, but something had changed in me, and since then, I had just been feeling alone. I had all my friends and family to rely on when I needed help, but I just couldn’t comprehend the feelings I had.
I sat there sipping my tea, burying those thoughts with thoughts of content, and it worked quite well.
“So,” Jon said, turning back to me, “what’s the plan for tonight?”
I shrugged. “I’m not sure. I’ll probably head home after this. I’m going to just lie down and watch some T.V. Why?”
Jon laughed and shook his head. “Nope. Uh-huh. Not happening. You’re coming with me.”
I sighed. “Where to this time?”
“We’re going on an adventure,” he said with a wink. “Bring your I.D.”
I stared at him, unimpressed. He had a devilish grin on his pale face, and his eyes shone; the one I could see, anyway. One was always hidden behind a lock of dark hair.
“Tell me where.”
“On an adventure, I said,” he grinned. “Just trust me. How’s the sister?”
“Older.” He sipped at his coffee. “Still pregnant?”
“Yeah,” I smiled. “I’m going to be an uncle, Jon!”
He laughed, reached across, and clapped my arm. “Alex, that’s amazing! When’s she due?”
“April of this year.” I grinned and took a sip of my tea.
“You’ll be a great uncle, man!”
I shrugged. “Let’s hope the kid doesn’t turn out like me.”
He was silent for a few moments, then nodded. “That’s true, I guess. It could be worse off, though.”
I glanced around the coffee shop. It was a nice place, strangely busy for a backstreet café, but I liked it. I had a tendency to avoid busy places but I liked the décor here. The tables were nice with a red-white checkered pattern and the hardwood floors were heavily worn. The ceiling was surrounded by old-time pictures of jalopies and groups of friends, with vibrantly clear glass windows and doors. It was a few roads back from the main street and only a few blocks away from my college campus.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of blue, but I ignored it. I pulled my coat tightly around myself, feeling a chill. “Cold as hell in here,” I said absentmindedly.
Jon raised a finger. “Provided,” he smirked, “that hell were freezing cold.”
I flipped him off, feeling that an answer like that would suffice. He laughed and turned back to people-watching.
We sat there a few more minutes, and I glanced over the first few pages of my book; I had read it a hundred times or more and it remained my favorite. I don’t know what it was; something about the characters or the concept of disappearing, but it always peaked my interest. I liked the repetition.
“What’re we doing here?” Jon lamented. I glanced at him.
“The hell if I know,” I said, taking a sip of my tea. “Just... sitting.”
“Want to start heading back?”
I shrugged. “Go ahead. I’m going to stay here.”
Jon stood up and grinned. “Suit yourself, man.” His bandana swung from his belt as he walked away, an orange-black flash of color. Jon grinned at a few nearby ladies as he passed, and they giggled, but then he was gone out the door.
I sat alone there at the booth, thinking about how crazy he was. Jon and I had met the previous year as roommates at the college, and everything about him spelled trouble. His hairstyle was a worn-out side part, and his clothes were all bright band shirts, even though half of the time he couldn’t name the artist he was advertising. Between that and his assortment of leather bracelets, steel necklaces, and the scattered sigil tattoos around his body, the guy just advertised excitement. And that didn’t even include his gang involvement around the city. He was a good guy – he really was! – but he had some less-than-admirable affiliations.
I was deep in thought and had my mug of tea to my lips when someone bumped into my left shoulder, sending the mug skittering across my lap to the floor, soaking me with what was left of my tea.
“Shit!” I heard someone yell, a female, and I stood quickly, wiping myself off as best as I could with my hands.
“I’m so sorry!” the girl exclaimed, diving forwards and grabbing the napkins from the table, handing some to me and going straight for the mug. I laughed.
“Hey, hey!” I said, quickly as I could. “Don’t worry about it! It’s fine!”
She grabbed the mug with both hands and put it on the table, knocking it over again. Her face was red with embarrassment, but I thought it quite cute. I smiled again, then put my hand on her shaking wrists.
“Hey!” I said. “Stop. You’re worrying over nothing.”
“I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed. “I was walking and I was looking at the clock, and I wasn’t paying attention, and – ”
I smiled, watching her talk. She had a cute face with an upturned nose and small lips, and her eyes were a deep silvery blue. Her hair was straight and brown and parted off to one side, with a few strands splaying haphazardly off to one side. She used her left hand as she spoke, gesturing here and there, as her right held a blue-black checkered parka, and it was then I realized I had zoned out.
“Are you okay?” she asked quickly, shyly. I nodded.
“Don’t worry, ight?” I said cheerfully. “I’m fine. Nothing that a quick wash won’t get out. It was getting cold anyway; I think you spared me having to drink it.”
“Let me buy you another?” she asked, cocking her head to one side, and I shrugged.
“You can join me for one, but you aren’t buying.”
“That kind of kills the point.”
I sat down with a shrug. “I enjoyed the tea, miss. I didn’t miss much. Do you want to join me? I always enjoy conversation.”
She grimaced. “I’d love to, but I can’t. I have class in – shit! Twenty minutes!” She turned and made for the door.
I laughed and grabbed her arm. “Hey, hey!” I said. “Wait a moment!”
I pulled a pen out of my pocket, grabbed a notebook from the side of my coat, and flipped it open to write.
This coupon is reserved for one tea with Alex Philips. You owe him. I like the coat.
I passed it off to her, and she read it and smiled.
“That’s... cute,” she said, averting her gaze and blushing. “You live near here?”
“Near the college, the Viewland. What about you?”
She smiled. “Oh, I’m around.”
I raised an eyebrow, smiling, dabbing at my jeans with a napkin. “Mysterious, aren’t we?”
“Isn’t it more fun that way?” She leaned against the table, smiling.
“Don’t you have class?” I asked.
“Shit!” she exclaimed, tucking the paper into her pocket and slinging her coat on. “I’m so sorry Alex, I have to run!”
I smiled. “No worries, miss. Might I ask your name?”
I extended a hand and she shook it. “Go to class, Catherine. Take care!”
I watched her turn and run out the door, leaving nothing behind but a flash of blue, and I smiled again for the umpteenth time. I scratched my chin, remembering the cute way she had blushed, and I sat back at the table, thinking about her for a moment. She was quite the beautiful girl. I wiped the remnants of tea from my pants with a napkin then shrugged, not letting myself get too hopeful.
Who the hell knew what the next few weeks would bring, anyway?
Daniel Hendrikx is a Professional Writing student from Newcastle, Ontario. Daniel grew up working on farms, and writing his own fiction. He finds time to write between playing video games and his guitar. Daniel is aspiring to be a professional writer. One day Daniel hopes to write a memoir as he draws his best inspirations from his own life