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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

Checking the Time

Updated: Jun 15

The barista’s bonzer black hair matches her Smiths tee. Morrissey’s coif negative white in a reverse printed album still. The band rests across her breasts in that arrogance of the decade. Hatful of Hollow echoes a brit techno so familiar my hamstrings tighten toward Achilles. Two other staff in black hip pulse behind the counter in collective submersion of their morning soundtrack. I am human and I need to be loved.


We order two coffees. No questions are asked. The counter gal understands. She might be 19. M says 22. Doesn’t matter. She understands.


We come because they understand coffee. And baking. We like how the scent of rosemary seeps into our clothes. How the bread chews slow. This is a local place. Thirty-something owners, kids of well-to-do parents whose grandparents bribed city council for better bricks when the hippie’s discovered money. That kind of local.


A mother and daughter wait for croissants to be heated. Their matching Lulu sour bright. The older in green, the younger yellow. Those ubiquitous cream crossbody bags unzipped for smart phones held to tap. Nikes as bright white as their zip code. An older woman stands behind, draped in brown corduroy with a Janis Ian hat. Her silver hair styled Emmylou, falling inches below her waist. Her cash in hand. A younger man strolls the counter glass. His afro Hendrix huge, gym sculpted body in a tie dye rainbow, ordering artisan sourdough with a gentle finger pointed.


M pages through the area magazine for happenings happening this month. There’s a Fleetwood Mac tribute band at the Cultural Center. The ad image causes pause. Cheap seats $75. A local brewery has an 80s night. The Art Museum debuts a Paul McCartney exhibit. Black and white photos of the four so fabulous when the Boomers started booming. The coming movie choices are Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, and Mad Max.


A vintage style Bronco pulls into the front space. Pseudo 70’s. Heated seats and leather trim. The adjacent retro Challenger in plum crazy metallic. Parked next is a Golf Cart striped for Dale Jr. in his prime. That year before his dad hit the Daytona concrete. Slotted beside rests a genuine article El Camino. Rectangle lamps lined in chrome. Boys pour from the Bronc’. Strapped to their twenties as tight as their fanny packs. Two out of four with fanny packs. Three out of four with Tom Selleck push broom mustaches. Puffy fluffy blowout hair. Sides trimmed neater than of the time.


And now Depeche Mode. Loud. The energy pulsing. I’m taking a ride with my best friend. The staff’s rhythm strobing memories of epic parties. Epic. I hope he never lets me down again.


Two couples explore the cupcakes. In their 30s. M says early 40s. The wives in diamonds knifing the LED light. In tights knifing their glutes. The bottle blond wears an oversized hoodie covered in Bowie. The brunette in a Patagonia vest just like her Hubbie’s. Both men sport flannel with trucker hats turned backwards. Luke hats, I call them, as in Luke from Luke’s Diner in Stars Hollow. There are other men seated in the scene. Same age. Same style. Same hats. Backwards.


Duran Duran. Still, I can’t escape the ghost of you. Where is the life that I recognize? The barista locks eyes. Four decades the bridge. We meet at the span’s crest. I shake my head for a third cup. She nods. M entertains another round, but we agree our time has been more than enough. We’ll try to make our way to the ordinary world.


The front door closes to silence. The sun seems higher. The day moving. M asks the obvious.

“What time is it, anyway?”


Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I have no idea.

1. Title photo design by Author, form an Orxan Musayev photo, Unsplash.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2024

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