The Cold Drop Cafe - Vienna
It was midnight, and Nicholas sat by himself in The Cold Drop CafÃ©.Â It was really an all-night roadhouse on the wrong side of the tracks, and the unofficial headquarters of the local outlaw motorcycle gang.Â It was also frequented by ham-fisted, long haulage truck drivers.Â But of course, Nicholas was in neither camp â€“ he fell between stools, so to speak.Â Not that he was a drunk!Â No, sir!
His weakness, if he could be said to have any failing at all, was skinny flat white coffee.Â A highly addictive concoction that should have carried a health warning.Â Or forbidden to be sold to minors, and only in discrete brown paper bags to debauched, consenting adults.Â But preferably banned outright, with the death penalty for skinny flat white pushers and mules running the law enforcement gauntlet.
Such would not have caught Nicholas.Â For he neither pushed nor ran, though his leather motorcycle gloves could always have been misconstrued as gauntlets by unscrupulous cops of the skinny flat white squad.Â When such was formed.Â Not that Nicholas would have recognized them.Â He was a gallant knight of the open road â€“ a modest biker able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet .... in short, a mere superman.Â Naturally, he saved fair damsels in distress and maidens weeping in Heartbreak Lane.Â He was their champion in a fools' paradise, and of all things wacky.
His trusty steed was an asthmatic motorcycle â€“ a black beast that rumbled, coughed and Â wheezed but which had a noble heart: twin cylinders that could be heard a block away.Â Now it sat outside in the cafÃ©'s unlit car park, with the keys left absent-mindedly in the ignition to light my fire.Â Not that any thief would.Â For the battered machine was expertly camouflaged with dirt and grime to be as one with the pools of black shadow splashed over the parking bays.
Even if a thief without a skerrick of self-respect, with no smidgen of pride left, happened upon the bike, it could not be stolen.Â For the trusty steed answered only to an angry kick here and furious thump there, precisely delivered by Nicholas, before bursting into snarling life.Â Such knowledge of the kiss of life was a gift from God, Who was not ready for such a one as Nicholas.Â And many an angel cringed at the possibility of him rumbling into Heaven.Â Nor was Hell ready for him, even though The Cold Drop CafÃ© was as a neon light flashing the way.
And there sat Nicholas, in the witching hour, with not one witch or warlock to be seen.Â They were not totally stupid.Â Insane, perhaps.Â But stupid?Â Most certainly not!Â A less than Mr World trucker somewhat cautiously eyed the gallant knight.Â The skinny trucker was jumping to unwarranted conclusions â€“ a failing not in the repertoire of Nicholas.Â However, the shrinking violet could have been forgiven for his nervousness.
Nicholas' appearance was a tad intimidating.Â His disheveled hair attested to the knight having forgotten to comb it after removing his black motor cycle helmet.Â On his black T-shirt, three words blazed in blood red: The World's Mad.Â On the back of his black sheepskin, armless jacket â€“ carelessly draped over a chair â€“ God Rules also blazed in red.Â The tattered jacket was as part of him as was his oil-stained black jeans and scruffy motorcycle boots.Â All in all, not the most reassuring figure in the dead of night in a cafÃ© in the black heart of a menacing no-go zone.Â But of course, appearances deceive the gullible.
Nicholas didn't have a hostile bone in his body.Â He was a paragon of virtue, as knights are wont to be.Â He was also somewhat pixilated â€“ peculiar even, weird perhaps, but not totally a barking lunatic.Â It wasn't the time of a full moon.Â Besides, the child-like cannot be like that.Â Not that this goodly knight saw himself as an innocent abroad, even though he was.Â For he had feet of clay â€“ such was often on his boots and motorbike.Â And children do not wear size ten motorcycle boots.Â This insane logical circularity circumvented the chivalrous knight from being an innocent.Â Which was just as well, for he wasn't circumcised either â€“ an oversight at his virgin birth.Â It all added to the inexplicable mystery surrounding this knight-errant sitting in a near deserted cafÃ© at midnight.
Why Nicholas was sitting alone in The Cold Drop CafÃ© wasn't even a small mystery.Â He was hoping God would smooth the road of true love and lead Ms Right as a pilgrim along the path of righteousness to this very roadhouse â€“ a den of thieves in the eyes of the law.Â But why would she come, for even Ms Right had free will sometimes?Â Because he was here waiting!Â Waiting for her in as good a place as any, at midnight; and goodness went with him everywhere.
The circularity of the logic was perfectly illogical, and what else could one expect in a mad world?Â And it must be insane, for his T-shirt said so.Â The unwritten law of chivalry forbade any knight errant worth his salt from wearing a T-shirt that lied.Â Besides all that, the cafÃ© served the very best skinny flat white coffees in town.Â Of course, the gallant knight was unaware that such coffees were laced with a generous nip of rum from under the counter, which might explain why he was a tad pixilated.
Thus there sat Nicholas, pensively staring at his mug of coffee instead of the beaming countenance of Ms Right, looking at him with adoring eyes.Â Consequently, he didn't notice a mountain of a man amble into the cafÃ©.Â It was Mongrel, the leader of the local outlaw gang.Â With a wink, he placed his order for a Vienna special â€“ a mug of black rum with a hint of white coffee froth in case a lost officer of the law dropped in.Â But only the heavily armed SWAT team ever deliberately entered the neighborhood, and only then if a backup of elite snipers were nearby to cover a hasty retreat.Â Of course, an unheralded invasion of the cafÃ© never occurred â€“ a pre-raid telephone call helped maintain the peace, which after all was the prime function of the law.
"Hi, man!" said Mongrel, stomping over to the knight's table.
Nicholas knew he was a man, but every scrap of confirmation helped.
Mongrel took off his bikies jacket.Â The colours on the back proclaimed: God's Hitmen Motorcycle Club.Â From this the knight had always quite rightly assumed that Mongrel was a born-again Christian.Â For his saintly mother had taught him as a child to always look for the good in people, thus not doubting them and accepting the truth of whatever they said.Â It being impossible to see the good in them if one believed they were lying through their teeth.Â And mothers had to be believed â€“ anything less necessarily meant mothers were liars, and such was unthinkable.
His very own mother had often wisely pointed out that the commandment, Honour thy father and mother! was actually a misprint which should have read: Believe thy mother! Thus he invariably accepted the truth of what everyone said â€“ unless and until they hanged themselves as self-proven liars.Â Which was a conundrum, for how could they prove themselves to be liars unless they told the truth about their lies, which thereby made them truthful?Â But then, the world was totally mad.
"Whatcha doin' here, man," asked Mongrel.
He took out the handgun stuck uncomfortably in the belt of his jeans, and laid the Colt 45 Â on the table â€“ and the nearby nervous trucker fled into the night.Â The bikie took a lusty sip of his Vienna special.
"Ah!" he sighed appreciatively.Â For the rum had the kick of a mule, and the coffee froth had a delicate bouquet, evocative of maidens running in slow motion through a field of long grass festooned with white daisies.Â With the back of a gnarled hand, the bikie wiped froth from his matted beard.Â "Still lookin' for your babe, I suppose."Â It was a statement rather than a question.Â "Women!Â They're not worth the grief!" he added as his contribution to the knowledge of true love and romance.Â He jabbed a big thumb at the electric blue lettering on his black t-shirt, which blazed: Life's a bitch and I'm a bastard!Â "See?"
But Nicholas failed to see why life would be a female canine.Â And he thought Mongrel must be mistaken in believing that he was born out of wedlock.Â For the knight had met the good lady in question one moonlit night, some years before, in the grounds of a church.Â God had driven a nail through the back tyre of his motorbike, and he'd wandered into the church grounds on the slim hope of finding a public telephone to ring for a truck to come and pick up the bike and deliver it to the emergency department of the motorcycle hospital.Â Instead, he picked up Mongrel's mother.
More precisely, he'd helped the good lady to her feet when she'd recovered from the intoxication of being possessed by the Holy Spirit in the exhilarating church service earlier in the evening.Â Or from the euphoric alter wine she'd been drinking â€“ for purely religious reasons â€“ from a cask in the nearby graveyard.Â Or had been felled by a combination of both.Â In any event, the chivalrous knight had walked the goodly woman all the way home.Â There he met Mongrel, who'd been beside himself with worry as to her welfare.Â And it was an elated Mongrel who fervently declared the knight to be a saint, and good guy forever.
Of course, Nicholas had no reason on earth to doubt that such must be the case, for his sainthood had been proclaimed by the anointed leader of God's Hitmen.Â After all, God's Hitmen necessarily implied Mongrel was batting for God in the game of life.Â Thus his own elevation from knight to saint was the Will of God, with Mongrel, obviously a prophet, delivering this divine encyclical.
"See?" Mongrel queried again, jabbing once more at the Life's a bitch and I'm a bastard! on his t-shirt.Â "Do you get it?"
Nicholas shook his head.Â The prophetic words were unclear to him.
Mongrel sighed in disappointment.
"Where's your good lady wife?" asked the saint, in reference to That Bitch, as Mongrel always called her.Â "I haven't seen her for a while."
"Pissed off!" growled Mongrel.Â "Didn't like me fixin' the bike's gearbox on the kitchen table.Â But then she spat the dummy when I pulled the engine apart in the bathtub.Â Geez, the bloody oil has to go somewhere!Â Why else has the bloody tub gotta hole?Â Tell me that!"
Saint Nicholas nodded.Â It was perfectly logical for the engine oil to drain down the hole.Â And it made no sense for lady wives to climb the slippery ladder of giddy vexation, for the higher they got the more they had their heads in the clouds.Â Nor was it sane for a grown woman to suck a dummy, only to spit it out.Â The immodest question of urination was best left clothed and unaddressed.
"The kids could always go down the road to Mum's for a bath," continued Mongrel.Â "But no, That Bitch said it just wasn't good enough.Â And she ran off with the kids a month ago.Â I tell you, man, women aren't worth the grief!"
The saint shrugged.Â He didn't know if women as a species were worth grief or if such applied only to female athletes training with young goats.Â Though there seemed something forbidden by the latter.Â On the other hand, perhaps grief worthiness pertained to That Bitch, a most charming woman.Â But most likely to Mongrel's mother, who was left pregnant and weeping on the church steps on her wedding day by a groom who never showed up.Â Grief, indeed was a strange matter.Â But then, the world was totally mad.Â His T-shirt all but said so.
"I hope they're okay," muttered Mongrel.Â "I've been out lookin' for them."
"It's all going to work out for the best!" said Saint Nicholas, thinking out aloud.Â Miss Right would come his way on her rumbling black motorbike, in her black leather jacket and boots.Â And in her jeans and t-shirt as well.Â Wearing her colour co-ordinated black bra and frilly black panties.Â A modest cross-your-heart black bra, as befitting the genteel.Â Naturally, the maiden would not be wearing make-up, for a brazen tart would never be the genteel consort of a gallant knight of the road.Â "She'll be quite a sight!" he added emphatically, the vision of her loveliness floating before his eyes.Â And he took another deep sip of rum-laced coffee.Â "A sight to make the angels weep!"
Just then That Bitch and her two children swept into The Cold Drop CafÃ©.Â "Mongrel!" she called tearfully, uncertainly â€“ having slipped off the ladder of exasperation, and from the mounting certainty when climbing it.Â "We want to come home."
"Missed you, babe!" growled Mongrel, rising to his feet, with a lump in his throat and suddenly misty eyed.Â "Bloody smoke!" he added in a choking voice, running the back of a hand across his watering eyes.Â "Bloody smoke!"
The saint, nee knight, peered around but couldn't see anyone smoking.
"You were right!" Mongrel declared in a thick voice, slapping Nicholas on the shoulder.Â "You really are a bloody saint!"Â He shoved the handgun back into the top of his jeans and put on his leather jacket.Â "Let's go home, babe!" he said to That Bitch.Â He plucked up each of the children with a brawny arm.Â "I've fixed the bike an' cleaned up a bit."
"Oh, Mongrel!" That Bitch said half-crying, half laughing.Â "Who cares about that!Â The bike's not worth the drama and grief.Â Let's go home!"
Nicholas watched them leave.Â It was indeed a mad world of happy grief.Â Therein was much food for thought.Â Had God anointed him a saint â€“ emphatically reaffirmed only moments before by His prophet, Mongrel â€“ to bring much needed sanity into the world?Â Time would tell.Â But at least one thing now was crystal clear.Â He was neither a knightly saint nor a saintly knight â€“ he was a full blown saint, without qualification.Â For such was the Word of God.
But being new to sainthood, he was totally unaware that strange doors would begin to open.Â Oblivious of the strange entities he would meet.Â But the strangest of all â€“ the very strangeness of strangeness â€“ the rite of finding Miss Right would fade from his skinny flat white fixated mind.Â Never again would the image of her in black bra and frilly black panties, astride a roaring black beast of a bike, enter his mind.Â And that was not just strange, but absolutely weird.Â However, she in a push-up white bra and frilly white knickerbockers in a white nightgown was not totally out of the question.Â All of it was so very strange!
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes