Feeling better by lunchtime, Karen headed off to Tea and Symphony to see how things were getting on.
She wasn’t reassured when she saw the specials blackboard outside offering Poshed Eggs on Toast. Obviously someone had let Josh, the part-timer, loose with the chalk again. She’d told Adele not to let him anywhere the specials board after the last error he’d made got them a mention in the local newspaper and a never-ending stream of jokes from customers about breeching the obscenity laws. Still, Josh did have lovely handwriting and he’d drawn a rather good picture of eggs on toast, just in case.
The cafe was buzzing with the Saturday lunch crowd. There was classical music on the sound system and the portraits of the great composers, modified with painted on party hats and joke moustaches stared down from the walls as they had done every day for more than 20 years.
Karen had thought the name was a bit silly when she first worked there as a 19-year-old student but now she’d come to love it and the name was as much a part of the place as the cafe was part of the fabric of Queenstown.
People had fallen in love in the cafe, broken up with people in the cafe, been offered jobs in the cafe, been inspired by conversations in the cafe. Karen herself had fallen in love in the cafe, not once but twice. Number one had been Grant and No 2 had been the cafe itself and the whole magical alchemy of taking raw ingredients and turning them into a feast.
“ None of that would have happened if it hadn’t been for that Student Job Search placement,” she thought, then remembering her current predicament, she sighed inwardly.
“Life can change in an instant,” she thought. For a moment she felt profound, then profoundly embarrassed that she sounded like a reject from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
She didn’t have much time to think about her life crisis again for a good couple of hours. The routine of running the kitchen, chatting to customers and making sure that everything was as it should be soothed her frazzled nerves somewhat and a little later on some light relief arrived in the form of Carl Lowry, local bon vivant, blogger and cafe regular.
“Going upmarket are we, Mrs Miller?“ he boomed in his rather patrician voice as he strode up to the counter.
“What sort of aristocratic hens do you get poshed eggs from?” he continued. “One of them would have to be called Queenie, wouldn’t it?”
“Something along those lines, Carl…flat white?” inquired Karen.
Once he started a conversation, Carl wasn’t easily deflected. “It’s not as good as the last one, though, is it? I mean, offering Penis on the menu instead of Panisse was a masterstroke in a country where there’s supposed to be a man shortage. How many women ordered one to take away? Bet they were gagging for it.”
A woman sitting at the rear of the cafe choked on her Chai Latte. You could fault Carl on many things but vocal projection wasn’t one of them. Karen suppressed a grin.
“Ah well, you’re not alone,” Carl went on. “I went to that Indian place in O’Connells last night and they’ve got Mango Lassie on the menu. That’s lassie with an e. I got all excited and had visions of becoming the proud owner of a yellow sheepdog with search and rescue capabilities. Most useful should I ever be lost in a cave or fall down a mineshaft. I was extremely disappointed when all I got was a fruit-flavoured yoghurt drink. They do a good butter chicken, though.”
Suddenly Adele, Karen’s 2-I-C, appeared from the kitchen.
“Karen, it’s Grant. He’s at the hospital. Something to do with Grace.”
All characters in Remarkables Lane are fictitious and any resemblance to any person alive or dead is purely coincidental…. No seriously, you’re really not that interesting