The ad read: Woman seeking Man for friendship. That was it, nothing else, no interests like, animal lover, linguist, stamp collector. Nothing about her being professional or what age she was after or what age she was. No clue. Now I wasn’t in the habit of reading personal ads in the paper, just an occasional glance when I was in Gary’s coffee house sipping on the most God awful cup of black rotten coffee I had ever put my lips too. But something drew me back to the orange walls that were bare, no pictures to rest the eyes after a busy shift. Old rusty white tables and chairs were scattered left and right, the coffee stained floor in need of a thousand arms and a bit of elbow grease. An old juke box that hadn’t played a tune in years stood in the corner of the room next to a dying palm tree. The dirt in the green ceramic pot was dry and the leaves were spotty black.
I looked at the ad again, it was strange yet it attracted me. The secret woman seeking a man, would any man do? A two time loser like me who had been moved around from every juvenile correction facility and spent three years in prison? It said man, I drew the paper closer to my eyes, in case I was making it up. I read it allowed for clarification, “Woman seeking man for friendship.” What kind of friendship? A lover kind of friendship? A friend kind of friendship? I put down the paper, Gary the big red nosed pimple faced man was in my face, a big wide grin stretched his face.
“Talking to yourself again are you?” He lifted up a pot of stemming coffee and brought it to my cup. “No thank you,” I replied. “I’m fine for a refill.”
“So you looking for female company?”
I frowned, nosey old grey haired Gary was listening in again on my idle prattle.
“You know I offered you my daughter…” He pointed to the picture behind the counter where mugs of all colours and sizes lined the walls a coffee machine was bubbling and gurgling as it peculated the rich Brazilian grains of coffee. It was the only picture in the café, which meant that she meant a lot to him, her brown coffee like hair, her sunny smile, her light brown eyes and her pretty face smiled out of the plastic grey picture frame. She was cute, I wasn’t going to sit there and deny it, but she was too young for me, I had standards I had to conform to. I wasn’t going to shag any girl that I got within ten feet of.
“Gary,” I said. “Thanks again, like for the hundredth time, but I like to think I’m old enough to go out with girls without them being forced on me. Don’t get me wrong Sandra is a lovely girl but…”
I lost the words, I was going to say something like if she knew who I was she would have turned and ran. But it was strange offering a school age girl to a grown man. Sometimes I questioned Gary’s motives. Was he charging, was the picture an advertisement? I shook my head Gary was a good honest man, a bit dirty and greasy behind the ear but he was a good man hardly capable of killing a fly. The room was proof of his killing inability as a thousand flies flew around like little black hawk helicopters looking for a suitable place to land.