We met on neutral ground today

a coffee shop with two exits

for all the good they did me

I sat across from him


and listening

words poured from him

many of which I had heard before

he told me how well he looked

how people often mistook him

for a much younger man

I listened

he explained to me how it feels to be without

to be broke, to have nothing

before informing me that his hotel room

last week in London

cost £400

a night

it was his treat to himself

the man who has nothing


I glanced at the exits

then at my watch

I looked down at my coffee

gently tapped the side of the mug

watched ripples roll from side to side

he kept talking

as the coffee stilled


an hour passed sheepishly by

he told me, again, of his achievements

of those who wronged him

he casually listed off the things he needed me to do for him

telling me that he hadn’t the time

nor the patience for them

I looked back down at my coffee

I felt shame burrow into the base of my spine

there were two exits


I spoke then, I mentioned something from my life

he paused, wide eyed, perhaps surprised

to see me

perhaps surprised that I would dare


I held his gaze and, in his eyes, I saw disdain

sailing on a lake of apathy

he excused himself and went to the toilet

on the way he cracked a joke with a waitress

she smiled politely

he roared

I winced

the coffee was cold on my tongue


I saw November out the window

mild and calm and waiting

under my breath I hummed a song

I put a smile on my face

to try and trick myself

he returned


the coffee stilled

I took a breath

he told me what he had said to the waitress

he explained that people enjoy him

he said that he had made her day

that she would tell her friends later on

about him

about how he made her laugh and laugh

people enjoy him

he is a giver

he is a listener

he can’t understand why people don’t return his calls

why they cut him off

he reminds me of the work he needs me to do

he smiles and shakes his head and throws his hands out before him


he has better things to do

but I will enjoy it

it will be good for me

he will visit every week to check on my progress

there were two exits



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