The cafe was almost deserted. A real cafe, all coffee stains on cheap plastic table covers and burly builders in vests. If I were to make it the setting somewhere, it would be some sort of kitchen-sink realism piece. You know, if my life were a film or somesuch shit. But as I say, the cafe was nearly empty. The burly builders had left some time ago, vests on, small t-shirts rising up over their fat.
I settled back into my seat, shredding the napkin I was holding absent-mindedly, looking at the figures in front of me, watching a drama play out.
"Why don't you just come home? Your mother... She's worried sick, she's barely eating. Look how frail she is! Look at what you're doing to her!"
His moustache bristled, his words spraying out in between hisses of steam, sprays of moisture clinging to the air between the figures.
"Father!" cut in mother, "Leave the boy be. We said we weren't going to do this anymore!"
"Aye." Replied father, "Your mother's right lad, this fighting ain't getting us anywhere. My not come home son, we can talk this over."
"No!" Replied son. "It's not the life for me, going back and forth all day, round and round, treading the same path like some sort of... Boat! Trapped in a whirlpool!"
I watched, waiting to see if anyone would point out that isn't how whirlpools work, but no-one did. I guess you have to live with that some times. But the drama continued:
"Son! You can't be serious about what you said! You can't make a new life here, London is no place for the likes of us. There aren't any tracks! The rent son... You'll need a big place, how can you afford it? And coal... Where do you get the coal lad?"
"I make ends meet father!" The boy shouted, "I knew you wouldn't understand! Goodbye to you both!"
With that, he swung from his seat onto the floor, and steamed from the room. I watched his parents for a few moments, mother engine-first on the table, father settled back with steam pouring from his chimney.
There's nothing sadder than a run away train...