A beautiful balmy morning found me sitting outside one of my regular cafes in the hood. Calm and peaceful with a very slight warm movement of air accompanied by a freshness that signals an end to summer and the advancing of Autumn.
I couldn’t help listening in to the conversation beside me. ‘What about that place on the corner?’ asked a lady with a high chignon wearing a pale blue feather boa, a matching birdseye pique shirt, slim jeans, stripey ankle socks and bright red patent leather shoes. ‘’Um, I don’t know who lives there, it used to be a pizza restaurant I think’ said her neighbour, a gentleman with white hair tied back in a long ponytail, glasses and wearing a bright green top. ‘No, no, I don’t want to know who lives there’ she replied looking off into the distance, ‘But, did something happen there once..?’
I took a sip of my latte and bit into a slice of Spanish toast: Serrano ham and tomato, delicious and salty, a little bit garlicky and oh so comforting.
‘Well of course that place opposite was a hairdressers then next to it was a hi-fi shop’ he continued, ignoring her last question. ‘Then there was the greengrocers – that was down to our right next to the post office and the launderette – they’ve always been there’.
I paused, coffee cup mid air: ‘Oh, no’ I interrupted, ‘the grocer’s was right opposite us: Roy’s! It was here for years’. They both turned to look at me. ‘Darling, we are talking 20 years ago’ the lady said in a thick Spanish accent. ‘Yes, and so am I’.
We sat in silence for a moment. ‘I think there was a murder on this street once’ the man said tentatively. ‘Ah! Yes!! This is what I want to know!!’ she said swivelling around to face him and almost jumping out of her chair. ‘Because, there is a ghostly air here! It sucks you in and when you leave you are always relieved. There are many people that have lived here before us you know’.
She fixed her eyes on me. ‘We were talking before you arrived about dreams – nightmares actually’, then: ‘What is your name?’ I told her and she looked knowingly at the man ‘You see; that has a connection to the dream you told me you had last night’. ‘Does it?’ he asked, frowning. ‘Tell me, do you know someone called Marcus?’ ‘Yes, I have a cousin by that name, he’s in Ireland’. She looked at me sceptically: ‘Are you sure he is there? Are you 100% sure?’ ‘Well, yes, I mean that’s where he lives’. ‘Do me a favour – make him a call today and find out’.
As I got up to leave, I remembered: ‘You know it’s funny, I had a nightmare too last night, I think it’s the change in the weather’.
I started across the street and heard her shout after me ‘It’s nothing to do with the weather. Make him a call! What was your dream! Tell us! We are all here for a purpose, there are no coincidences!’. As I reached the tube station, the sun dipped behind a cloud and the thought that I may never again meet these two characters flitted across my mind.