Chapter 2 | Part 1
A lunch café sat anew between a used bookstore and a vintage antique shop in the Cobble District. Over a year ago, the store had been re-opened after a fire. Its existing condition stuck out like a gem among the district’s signature pebble infused sidings. Though the owners kept to tradition with a sophisticated, polish stonework that complimented the pale orange cobble streets of the district.
A grim exchange was paid for the café’s beauty; a life had been lost. In the tragedy, the bookstore earned a new roof and awning, while the antique shop was left un-singed, and an adolescent cherry blossom was planted in front of the café in memorial. The café’s name had also changed to Charlie & Cherrys’ Café, from its original, Charlie’s Café.
Jimmy was one of the lead detectives in the case while he became part-time as a journalist for New Orion Way newspaper. He wasn’t allowed to write about any cases until it was closed, neither was he supposed to leak any information before becoming an official public announcement. He never risked becoming an anonymous source, but that didn’t stop the police department from accusing him.
That year, Charlie’s Café was the fifth fire in the Cobble District were the only incident of death had occurred. A week after the fire, sensitive information was leaked to the front page of the New Orion Way. Jimmy was the prime candidate to blame, but held no grudge as the chief, Armen Baskel, discharged him.
Today, among every weekend, he ate at Charlie & Cherry’s Café with his girlfriend, Sassy. Jimmy kept the irony to himself and never told Sassy of his personal history to the building. She knew he left the force on bad terms, but as far as he knew, she was completely unaware how it played into the outcome of his law enforcement career.
Opening week of Charlie & Cherrys’ Café, Jimmy and Sassy bumped into each other. Twisted curiosity brought him back to the building as he tagged along with a food critic from the newspaper. Distracted by his memories as a detective, Jimmy grabbed Sassy’s hot tea off the counter instead of his coffee. He took a sip and spit it out, partially on Sassy’s summer dress. While deathly embarrassed, Jimmy left an impression on her that she found endearing. They’ve dated ever since.
Jimmy arrived thirty minutes early as usual and sat at their regular table in the middle of the café with his newspaper. He always waited to order until she arrived and liked to start at the back of the newspaper. Then switch to the front when she joined him. The first table they ever sat at together was at the front of the store, but Sassy insisted they move further from the windows.
At ten till eleven, Jimmy folded his paper back up and sat it under his phone. He leaned back in his chair as he tugged at his grey t-shirt in attempt to cool off from the heat.
The server came by, promptly setting down Jimmy’s iced coffee. “Here you go, Jimmy.”
He picked up the cup and raised it. “Thanks, Miss Katie,” he nodded to the server.
Walking away, she shyly grinned to herself.
Looking at the time on his watch, Jimmy brushed his jaw line in attempt to comb some untamed hairs in his short beard. He double checked his gelled back dark brown hair and faced the door as Sassy entered. She wore denim shorts and a flowy teal top while carrying her usual oversized striped canvas bag. She grinned wide when she saw Jimmy and rushed over.
He stood up and hugged Sassy, her lightly tan back and long brown hair was moist from the heat. She hugged him a little tighter today. “How’s my girl doing?” he said in a sincere, deep voice.
She brushed a kiss on his cheek and pulled away to take a seat. “Good, I woke up early this morning. Did some cleaning.”
Jimmy returned to his seat. “You got off at the bar early on a Friday?”
“Sort of,” she paused as Katie returned to take their order. Sassy looked at Jimmy as he nodded. “The usual,” was all Sassy said. She leaned on the wooden table looking at the newspaper. “So what’s been published today?” Suddenly she looked very tired.
Jimmy made a half grin. “I’ll tell you if you tell me why you’re avoiding my question about the bar?”
She rolled her eyes and smiled. “I quit.”
“Oh,” Jimmy wasn’t surprised, but knew she wasn’t the type to quit on the spot. “You couldn’t have done that before your shift for my office party?”
She laughed as Jimmy smiled. “No, the incident didn’t happen before my shift.” She dropped the smile and fiddled with the corner of the table while avoiding eye contact.
Sensing her change of mood, Jimmy treaded cautiously. “I know you hate being a bar tender, but I also know you had some great friends there also.” He placed his hand on her forearm. “You wouldn’t just leave unless it was drastic.”
Slipping her hand into his, “I’ll tell you when I’m ready.”
And with that, Jimmy dropped the subject. He picked up the newspaper and turned it to Sassy. “Bottom front page today.”
“Wonderful, which one is it?” She glanced at the title. “Nice! The boring one I didn’t understand.” She suddenly took a deep yawn as Katie came back with Sassy’s tea and dropped it off next to Jimmy’s cup.
Noticing her yawn, he wondered why she would be tired if she didn’t work her whole shift, but figured it was a reaction of his earlier drafts of the article she read. He snatched the newspaper from Sassy. “Maybe I should get a smarter girlfriend.”
Sassy peered at Katie as her eyes briefly popped out. After she left, Sassy tilted her head at Jimmy as he started to read his newspaper. “I’m a lucky girl.”
“I know you are,” he winked, “but tell me why anyway.”
“You’re on the front page, you don’t need a bigger ego than what it already is.”
Katie returned once again with their sandwiches.
Sassy retrieved a book from her giant bag as they ate in silence while reading. When they were done, they started on the crossword together. It was almost noon when a stranger approached Jimmy and Sassy at their table.