Broadway Cafe

Kansas City, Missouri

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Moisture sunk from low and still midnight into black ice on the asphalt. The darkness, the empty parking stalls, and the sepulchre of my car layered up distinct silences. I labored in the airport economy lot at adding to my fitful hours of bed sleep. Those mercury green streetlamps left me ill at ease. Though I’d never be targeted for abduction, that light would flesh out the setpiece nicely. A change of socks made a valiant attempt at a pillow. I was hoping to make it until dawn but five stiff minutes proved that I needed no more sleep. I read Hinshaw by the buzzing cablight. Still before dawn I cranked the car. I reworked my initial grid coordinates of Oddly, Correct to put me on heading to Broadway, Cafe. Oddly Correct, Closed Sunday, Oddly Normal. Fog slowed dawn’s glaze over access-road office chodes. I sailed more intuitively than expected, perhaps lucid from sleep deprivation, into the flat silver of Westport, dawn, Sunday morning. A rotund dog sat on the high windowsill of the cafe. Free parking was plentiful.

Broadway Cafe

The few humans inside were enough to foster that trans-Atlantic disorientation that surfaces sometimes at home. When training in from the airport to Dusseldorf or Milan at the start of weekday breakfast those people legitimately sucking espresso at a counter to start their day only cement further the charade of the tourist’s attempt to recalibrate culturally and chronologically. I get that feeling when I know I’ve been awake significantly longer than everyone around me. I slunk with my bowl of coffee to the far end of the nearly empty, vast cafe. Two men sat near the counter by the window. The dog outside appeared to sit on their low table.

I sat for a long time watching small birds dart from a dead street tree. My coffee grew cold. A game from my childhood, ‘Bermuda Triangle’, sat on a low shelf. This morning was colder than the Sunday morning of yard-saling that brought the game to our house. Its contents were nearly spilling to the checked floor.

Later, more patrons slowly filtered in to mill around the counter. I saw through the window a man passing with an enormous growth on the tip of his nose. It was the size of a tangerine with as clear geometry. He entered the cafe into the midst of the other patrons. I watched these other patrons in relation to the nose-man from my distant perch. Some looked away quickly. Some sought safe vantage to discretely gawk. Some made a point to look him square in the eyes and proudly puff, “And a good day to you, sir!” It doesn’t take too far a stray outside the norm to become the focus of this social disorientation. I’d been there myself after combing snot into my hair and going to a business meeting. I reckoned I was the better of this cafe crowd for hoping to understand the man’s plight by carefully noting what the world put him through.

Of course by observing him like an anthropologist I only managed to find my own self-righteous method of insulting him. Further still, upon leaving the cafe I spent the rest of my day in Kansas City talking to anyone who’d listen about how one could never work a disfigured character like this satisfactorily into a fictional text without it seeming stilted or gratuitous. Luckily this man existed, thus I wasn’t exploiting him.

For whatever reason I found it difficult to sleep once I did reach my bed again.


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Broadway Cafe

4106 Broadway
Kansas City, Missouri 64111
http://www.broadwayroasting.com


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CAFE TABLEAUX
is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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