Part Ten – Where a man thinks hard about life
She had been up once at night because a dead man had been talking to her and she had to tell him to go away. She had no polite phrases at three A.M., so she had been straightforward.
She was ok when she got up. She showered and got ready for work. She almost forgot her purse when she tried to get out the door without talking to the three dead people standing in her way. Thankfully she remembered and was out the door in a rush. She walked at a very brisk pace to the Café. Like the day before, she had her line of dead people behind her.
Lisa smiled and thought how funny if anyone could see it. They are following me like I was their master. It is absurd, to say the least, she mused. She did not look at the people she passed because, once in a while, dead people wanted her to talk to passers, and she hated that.
She got to the Café and walked in the backdoor like the other days.
“Good morning,” she said when she saw Emily and Theo.
“You are here early,” she said to Theo.
Theo looked at her and said
“I have some work to do. Emily saw you outside yesterday. May I ask who the man you were talking to was?” Theo looked serious.
“Yesterday,” Lisa tried to remember, then realized Emily had seen her with Juan.
“I was talking to a friend, that’s all. Nothing big he just came to say hi.”
Theo looked even more serious and rubbed his stubble.
“But the man is with the police?” he said.
“Yes, an old friend I used to work with, but now he is just a friend.”
Emily cut in,
“He showed you a file, and you told him something. I saw it. Are you in trouble, Lisa?” They both looked worried.
“God, no! Oh, I am sorry if you thought so. I am truly sorry. No, he is a friend I used to work with, and sometimes he asks my advice. That’s all. I am sorry, guys.”
Both sighed a sigh of relief.
“That’s settled then,” Theo said.
Emily smiled and said
“You had us worried for a while. So what did you do before you worked with us?” Emily was curious.
Lisa had thought about what to say a million times and said
“I worked in communication; I just needed to stop and break away from a world where I worked around the clock. That’s why these hours are great for me. It is too easy to kill yourself working too much.”
Lisa tried to steer the conversation toward something other than her old work.
Emily was back on track.
“I almost killed myself with a million hours a week in my last job. That is why this is amazing. We don’t have to die trying to be enough.”
I got around the topic. I need the guests in the café to be no one I ever knew before. I succeeded, Lisa thought to herself. It is going to be a good day.
“Don’t you think so?, Lisa?” Emily stared at her.
“Sorry, I was miles away. I am sorry” Lisa had not heard a word she had said.
“I was just saying it is easy to dive into a job you love and then get overwhelmed.” Lisa nodded.
“Very easy,” Lisa thought as she went to take the chairs down from the tables.
Two dead people were in the corner, already waiting for the right live person to walk through the door. Lisa ignored them, but it somehow stressed her out to see them and be unable to help.
She knew from years of messaging that they came when she could actually help them. She hated being unable to do anything without giving up her Café job. She shook her head and snapped out of it. She would have to stop thinking about helping because it would make her go back, and she decided not to do that.
She put sugar containers on the tables and ensured everything was in place and ready for guests to come through the door.
Before opening, they all sat by the table in the back. Theo started
“So we are super happy you are not in trouble, Lisa. I have some pain in my back again. Can you help me with that? It is ok if you don’t feel like it.”
“Sure,” she said, leaning over and touching Theo’s back. They became hot at once, and she could feel the energy flowing.
“It might be a slow day today, but I have made cake enough for everyone, so if you want to taste them, feel free,” Emily beamed.
“The kitchen is a little small, but that’s ok. I love baking.”
After three minutes, Lisa sat up and said
“that should do it.”
Rubbed her hands against each other and smiled at Theo. He stood up and made various movements to the side, back, and forward.
“You are a miracle worker. I cannot believe you chose our café to work at.”
Lisa said nothing because what was she supposed to say? She chose it out of intuition.
So Emily said
“it is showtime.”
They stood up and cleared the table.
“Can I have a cup of tea at the bar so I can sip at it?” Lisa asked.
“Of course. Have you not been drinking while working before?” Emily looked shocked.
“No, not really, but I thought I might need to.”
Theo looked horrified.
“You need to drink and eat, period! Now that it is set up, go eat a piece of cake,” he was being a bit dramatic.
Lisa smiled and went to the kitchen, where six cakes stood, waiting to be eaten.
“What kind of pies or cakes or pies are on today’s menu?” she asked Emily as she approached the kitchen.
“Cakes AND pies. Key Lime pie, pecan pie, raspberry cake, and red velvet cake for good measure. You can eat whichever you want, well, not the whole cake but a slice.” Emily laughed.
They both laughed and ate a piece each. Lisa loved the pecan pie, and Emily chose the red velvet cake.
When they were done, they went to the front door and bar to prepare for opening.
Lisa loved the mornings when they were just the three without much interference. She noticed a dead woman pacing the floor. Lisa ignored her, but the woman seemed annoyed and somewhat angry. She went around the same three tables over and over again.
I hope no one sits there, Lisa thought as she unlocked the door and opened it.
The woman stopped and stared at the door. Almost like she knew someone was coming.
Lisa paused and then went to Emily. She wanted to observe the woman because she knew this kind of soul could quickly cause trouble. They tended to throw things, which was the last thing she needed.
A man came through the door not long after, and as she told him he could sit anywhere, he went to one of the three tables the dead woman had circled. He sat down and waited for Lisa to come.
Oh, here we go, Lisa thought and went to him.
“Can I tell you about today’s cakes?” Lisa tried to be polite, but an angry dead woman standing behind her made it hard to focus.
“No, I will just have coffee and whatever cake you think is right.” He looked tired and closed off.
“Thank you,” said Lisa and went to the counter to ask for a red velvet cake and coffee. She had almost forgotten to write it on the little note. She took out her notebook and started writing as she heard the dead woman hiss.
“So here you are, you coward.”
Lisa put the note on the counter and turned to watch the man.
He had no expression on his face at all, and Lisa gathered he must not have heard her. Good, she thought he could not hear her. The woman turned towards Lisa and said,
“Good? You…” Her voice trailed off, but it came back hissing
“Do you think it is good he cannot hear me?”
“He killed my daughter and me and has admitted no guilt. He is a coward and a bastard.”
Lisa tried to keep her mind in balance but felt a shake of panic.
She hoped her thoughts came through the right way. Please don’t make a scene. I don’t do messaging anymore, but please don’t ruin it for the people I work for.
The woman laughed and touched the man’s cup. It moved an inch and not more than that. He was still motionless.
What is your name? Lisa asked the woman in her thoughts.
Emily put the cake and coffee down, making Lisa jump and make a small squeak.
“Sorry,” Emily said, “You seemed far in thought.”
“I was,” Lisa said.
She took the coffee and cake to the man.
He looked stricken with depression and motionless. Lisa wanted to help him but knew she couldn’t.
“Are you ok, sir?” she said, placing the plate on the table.
He looked up and said
“You are the first to ask that in over a year. Why do you ask?”
Lisa was confused and thought it was sad no one had asked that for so long.
“You look sad. That is all,” Lisa ended up replying
The dead woman, who had still not told Lisa her name, screamed
“He does not deserve to be asked anything like that. He is a coward.”
Lisa twitched her eyes from the noise and thought – you did not even say your name, so shut up, woman!
The dead woman looked amazed.
“Who are you to tell me to shut up?”
Lisa had been in these situations before.
I am the only hope you have! And you have to shut up, woman, and back off.
The woman stood back and looked, wondering what to say but eventually decided to do nothing.
Emily raised her voice, asking if everything was ok.
“Yes, fine,” said Lisa, realizing it might all seem weird.
The man was looking at Lisa still. This was going to be a mess.
“Are you ok?” she repeated as she looked back at him.
“I will never be ok again but thank you for asking,” he said, looking just as depressed as before. He picked up the fork and started poking his pie.
Lisa looked at the woman.
“Tell me his name and yours!”
The dead woman looked like she was going to say no when she said
“Arthur and I am Mieke.”
She looked at the man and said
“Arthur, the pie is amazing. I hope it is up to your taste.”
He looked like he had seen a ghost and spurted out How do you know my name?
“I just do. Trust me when I tell you it will be better in time, and you can still be happy again,” Lisa said in a low voice.
She wanted to help this man so badly and not give away that she was a messenger.
He looked at her suspiciously and said, “
How do you know? Are you a psychic?”
Lisa smiled and said
“There are things I just know. Enjoy your pie and Coffee.”
She turned to greet new guests at the door.
Arthur grabbed her arm and looked her straight in the eye.
“How do you know?”
She removed his hand from her arm and said
“Trust me on this one, and please don’t touch me.”
Emily was there in a second, having seen everything going on.
“Do we have a problem, Sir?” she said.
“No,” he said, “your waitress just said something I did not see coming.”
Emily looked at him straight.
“I don’t want anything to happen to my colleague, so please don’t touch her again.”
“Yes,” he said, looking at his plate. Embarrassment was painted all over his face.
Lisa went to greet the people by the door. She showed them to the table by the window. She told them the cakes of the day and went to the counter.
Emily looked at her,
“What happened,” she said with a stern face.
“I told him he looked sad and everything would be good again. He wanted to know more. Desperate people do desperate things. Nothing more than that.”
Emily looked at her and said
“Ok, call me if you need any more help.”
Lisa said thank you and carried on with the other guests. There were more coming through the door by the minute.
She greeted them and held a close eye on Arthur too. He seemed like he blamed himself too much.
Cake and coffee were carried, guests were greeted, and Lisa was only concerned about Arthur.
After 45 minutes, she asked Emily if she could go on a break to clear her mind, and Emily said no problem.
Lisa went outside the café for a moment. To the side so she could not be seen from the inside. Not long after came Arthur.
“How do you know?” he said as soon as he saw her.
“Mieke told me about you.” She looked at him and said
“I used to be a messenger. I used to pass on messages from dead people before I came to the café to work.”
“Mieke,” he said.
“How do you know her?” He had a weird look in his eyes.
“I told you I passed on messages from the dead.”
“Is she here? Can I talk to her?” Arthur asked.
“She was before, but not right now. She said something about you killing her and her daughter, but I heard no more.”
Arthur’s face fell. He looked at his shoes and turned back into a depressed older man.
“I did do that,” he said in a whisper so low Lisa could hardly hear it and had to lean forward.
“How?” Lisa wanted to know what made this man crumble like this.
“I was drunk and ran the car into a house when I passed out. I killed them because I was sick and stupid and horrible. I have been sober ever since. I have not touched anything since. I had to learn the hard way that my actions have consequences, and I must live with them. I regret it every day and hate myself for it.”
Arthur was almost shrunken into a more petite man. The guilt weighed on him so hard he could not stand upright.
“Let’s see if we can get Mieke here,” she said, calling for Mieke in her thoughts.
Almost in the exact second, Mieke was there.
Lisa gathered her mindset and thoughts to communicate.
“He is sorry, and he has changed,” she said. “Why do you see a coward?”
She looked at Arthur and then at Mieke.
“He admitted no guilt in court.” Mieke lit up with anger again.
“Hold your horses,” Lisa said out loud. Let me get this.
Arthur looked at her funny
“horses?!” he looked surprised.
“Mieke said you admitted no guilt in court, didn’t you?”
“No, because I could not remember anything. I almost died in the accident, but it took almost half a year to remember. I remember some of it now, but I don’t remember all.”
Arthur looked sad,
“I know what I did, but in court, it was so close I did not know and wouldn’t want to admit to something I had no idea if I did or not.”
Lisa looked at Mieke.
“And you do you know what he says to be true?”
Mieke said yes.
“I am just so angry, and I wanted my daughter to grow up, not die young.”
Lisa looked at Mieke
“We all have things to learn, and you do too. There is a time to leave the living and go back to god. The accident was your time and your daughter’s time. He only helped you with the physical part of things. I understand the anger, but that is between you and god.”
“She is gone now, but I think she understood. You have changed your life, and you must go on living. I have to get back inside. I have actually stopped messaging, but I had to communicate with you.”
Arthur looked lighter and thanked her before leaving.
Lisa went inside, and Emily smiled when she saw her. I am glad you did not decide to run away she said.
“No way, I love it here.”
They went on with their day, and Lisa wondered what kind of life Arthur would have after today.