The New Drop Cafe - Wine Caffeine
The New Drop CafÃ© was something of a revelation.Â It was The Old Drop CafÃ© refurbished, much to the disapproval â€“ hostility even â€“ of the connoisseur coffee establishment.Â No blue rinse set here!Â No, sir!Â It drew a very different clientele.Â It was the haunt of poets, folk singers, occasional wayward saints and other drop outs.Â Worse in its mortification, it was said to be a drop in centre for scarlet ladies of the night.
If that wasn't a nightmare enough, horror of all horrors, The New Drop CafÃ© was reputed to be a distribution centre for pushers of ecstasy pills and other mind warping tablets.Â And this black pit of hell on earth also offered new messiahs pedaling the abandonment of free love â€“ out with the old and in with the new.Â This combination of ecstasy pills and free love drew crowds of the young and the gullible, who were well advised to wear body-length condoms as protection from themselves.
Whereas The Old Drop CafÃ© had been a stalwart of restraint and sensibility and respectability and responsibility and total abject boredom, The New Drop CafÃ© buzzed with decadence and revolution.Â Little wonder that it drew the restless and the wild.
Into the maelstrom ambled Saint Nicholas, as a shivering moth drawn to the scorching flame.Â Where else but here was he to be found on an otherwise seemingly pointless afternoon?Â But he was following his angel's suggestion, having gone for a long ride away from the guesthouse and the vivid image of Mongrel dying on the floor in the hallway.Â Somehow, he'd gravitated to this cafe.
He had arrived wearing Mongrel's leather jacket, the blood cleaned from it but still with the bullet holes in the breast of the coat.Â It had been left that morning on the front porch of the guesthouse, with a note stating: Â Nick - Mongrel would have wanted you to have it.Â Upon entering the emporium, he took it off and draped it over an arm. Â His black T-shirt, now revealed, blazed a message in red upon his back: The World's Mad.
Not that he saw himself as that.Â But he did feel stretched thinner than an anaemic pancake and flatter than a stale glass of beer.Â Most certainly not as loaves and fishes to feed the multitude in the cafÃ©.Â He simply had nothing left to give.Â Everything seemed totally pointless and without any meaning at allÂ But perhaps this cafÃ© buzzing with energy might snap him out of his deep depression or give him a different slant on life.
So now here he was where the action simmered to erupt and flare and then simmer again: in spasms of seductive skinny flat whites, heady espressos, licentious flat whites, rampant cappuccinos and debauched straight blacks. Here was the seething cess pool of unbridled caffeine â€“ a free flowing orgy of wild lust in a cup.Â Oh, momma lock up your daughters!Â Oh, daddy, forbid and chain your sons!Â Come instead to sip at the fountain of youth of Sodom and Gomorrah!Â And let the good times roll!
Not that Saint Nicholas was at all concerned with sipping from the gushing fountain of pimpled adolescence.Â No, indeed!Â Most certainly not that!Â He'd just sip some adulterated caffeine in The New Drop CafÃ© and observe the world spin madly on its axis on its way to hell.Â He no longer seemed part of it.Â He was totally disconnected from it, as if he was seeing it from a great distance.Â Nevertheless, with a mug of skinny flat white in hand, he ventured into the very bowels of the emporium.
But the buzzing din was an invisible hand that pushed him out through a doorway and onto a patio festooned with palms and relative quiet.Â A group of a dozen or so men sat at a long bench-like table, eating finger-foods and drinking from goblets of red wine.Â In their midst sat a bearded man in his early thirties, of Middle-Eastern appearance, and clothed in a flowing greyish caftan.Â He was the centre of attention.
The saint impassively observed the man as if he were an ant upon the ground.Â Yet the man was a classic image of a terrorist: bearded, with a pock-marked forehead and scarred hands â€“ perhaps the result of a bomb making venture gone terribly awry.Â But Saint Nicholas idly mused that perhaps the man was a latter day mystic whose appearance attested to the ravages of a life on drugs.Â And this was the most likely explanation, for the man's companions sat with saucer eyes apparently hanging onto his every word.Â And no one really does that unless he's stoned â€“ clearly, not induced by skinny flat whites.Â The saint smiled wryly at that.
Thus Saint Nicholas stood sipping his coffee, silently observing the scene unfolding. Â And listening as one or another of the seated men addressed the unkempt prince holding court.Â With a, 'Yeshua' this or a 'Jeshua' that, they almost seemed to be asking for a brain.Â And the uncrowned king would reply with mumbo jumbo this and jumbo mumbo that.Â It seemed to get all too much for one man.Â He arose discretely and somewhat furtively walked away, passing the saint without as much as a glance.Â Shortly afterwards, all the men at the table arose and drifted into the bowels of the cafÃ©, leaving the centre of attention sitting all alone.
He looked up and, noticing the saint for the first time, waved a smiling invitation.Â Trying to be gracious, Nicholas forced a smile in return and walked over to sit opposite the bearded man.
"I'm the Son of God," the man said casually, almost as if declaring that it was a nice day.
"Of course you are," said St Nicholas.Â "And I'm Father Christmas!" he added dryly, almost as if blandly saying it was a lovely evening.
The bearded man gave him an uncertain look, and then shrugged.Â "My name is Jeshua," he said, as if such should somehow be significant.
The saint shrugged indifferently.Â "I'm Nicholas," he replied, not meaning to be unbearably churlish.Â He looked quizzically at Jeshua.Â "I thought I heard someone call you, 'Yeshua'?" he blurted.
"I'm called by both names.Â But mostly, 'Jeshua' â€“ by my friends."
The saint nodded his understanding.Â "I'm known as either 'Nicholas' or 'Nick' â€“ the latter to those who don't really know me.Â Are you from around here?"
"From Palestine, actually."
"You're a long way from home.Â Back packing, I suppose.Â Having a look around?"
"Yes and no," replied Jeshua.Â "Yes, I move about and sleep where there's a free, spare bed.Â And, no, I'm not a tourist.Â I bring a vision to share with all.Â Are you interested?"
"Not really," the saint replied disinterestedly.Â He snorted in self-derision.Â "But I carry a message as well," he added, referring to The World's Mad on the back of his T-shirt and to the God's Hitmen on the back of the leather jacket.Â "Are you interested in hearing it?"
"No, not really," answered the man, as is the way of bearded terrorists claiming to be the Son of God.Â He nodded at a goblet of wine on the table.Â "Would you like a drink?"
The saint shook his head and held up his mug of skinny flat white.Â "Would you like me to get you a coffee?"Â He took a sip to demonstrate it wasn't poisoned.
Jeshua shook his head, picked up a goblet and sipped some wine.
Saint Nicholas looked at the alcoholic before him, nursing his font of unreality.Â Jeshua stared at the one possessed by sin, clutching his delusion of skinny flat white salvation.Â But each forgave the other his self-inflicted fantasies, lubricated by goblet and mug respectively.Â And each struggled silently for a meeting ground to break the awkward lull in wordage that had no earthly meeting place.
"It's been a nice day," remarked the Son of God.
"And it's a lovely evening," Saint Nicholas observed mechanically.
He made an effort and smiled.Â Jeshua smiled in return.Â The weather had wrought a bumping of minds.
"Are you a terrorist?" Saint Nicholas asked casually, in way of small talk â€“ he really didn't care what the response might be.
Jeshua laughed in surprise.Â He regained his composure and addressed the question.Â "Yes, I am, in a manner of speaking.Â But truth is the bomb I carry to explode and sweep away all delusion."Â He chuckled.Â "What about you?Â Are you a terrorist?"
The saint smiled and shook his head.Â "Oh, no!Â Peace was the gift I thought I was born to offer."Â He sighed heavily.Â "Wouldn't it be nice if there were no cause for tears?Â If there were only smiles?"
Jeshua nodded, his eyes measuring his companion anew.Â "Well said, brother!"
A sudden commotion within the cafÃ© proper spilled out onto the patio in the form of the plain-clothes arm of the drug squad.Â An informer â€“ the man who'd previously snuck away from the table â€“ walked up to Jeshua and touched him on the cheek, declaring, "He's the one!"Â And without reading Jeshua his rights, drug squad officers dragged him away.
One of the policemen stared hard at the bemused saint.
"Do you know the man?" he demanded, in reference to the arrested drug pusher.
Saint Nicholas shook his head.
The detective glanced at the informant.Â "Is this guy an accomplice, Jude?"
The informer shook his head.Â "No!Â I don't know the man."
The policeman gazed steadily at the saint.Â "Well, I don't know you either, but I'd better not find out that you're pedaling dope.Â You can go!"Â He glanced at the informer.Â "Drop into the station, Jude, and collect the reward."
The informer scowled.Â "The name's Judas!"
The cop shrugged indifferently.Â "Go hang yourself!Â I don't give a damn who you are.Â You low-life are all the same.Â Get lost!"
The saint also made himself scarce from The New Drop CafÃ©.Â It offered nothing at all of interest.Â Coming here had been a complete waste of time.Â He couldn't understand why his angel had guided him into coming here.Â All of it had been totally meaningless.
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes