She walked into the cafe, her eyes scanning for a quiet table, her body grateful for the coolness of the air conditioner, and her hand depositing her cell phone into her bag. She needn’t have bothered. The place was empty but for two waiters, a bartender and someone on a business suit who looked like a manager of sorts.
She chose a table by the window and made herself comfortable. She took out her book, her cell and a small compact mirror. She checked herself quickly, considering then deciding against dabbing her face with the powder. It was still red. She decided to blot it with tissue instead.
The waiters eyed her from a distance until she finished with her preparations and opened her book. Then, the youngest one sidled over and stopped in front of the woman, notebook and pencil at the ready.
-Hello, how are you today? – he said.
– I am fine, thanks – the woman said. – hot isn’t it?
-Yes, we have air-conditioning here. We are lucky the electricity held. No interruptions at all.
-Yes, yes. What can I bring you? Do you like ice coffee?
– I am actually looking for something different…maybe wine.
-Wine? In this heat?
-Yes, red I think. It goes with my book
The waiter eyed the book suspiciously, then the woman and her pensive smile. “Tourists!” he thought. But a client was a client.
-Ok- he said, – I’ll bring you a glass of red wine.
-What wines do you have? – she asked. – Can I maybe see the wine list? .
– Ok – he said – I will bring it to you.
He did bring it, handing it to her proudly and carefully. She took the cardboard in her hands and perused it just as carefully, finally settling for a deep, rich red from South America. She was surprised to see that particular wine on the list.
– Is this what you want? – the waiter asked, and she nodded.
– We don’t sell that by the glass. There!- he said and pointed at the menu.
-See, when there is no price by glass, it means that we only sell it by bottle.
-I know that -she said, a bit sharper than she intended. – Ok, just bring me the bottle.
-The bottle? The entire bottle? – he asked.
-Yes, the entire bottle. – she answered. -is that a problem?
-Nno, but it is expensive. Why don’t you just choose one of the wines by glass?
-I want that one. It is ok, i just like that particular wine.
-But you won’t be able to drink it all.
She stared at the waiter intently, scouring his face for any signs of sarcasm. There were none. He was seriously concerned.
-Look, just bring me the wine ok?
-Ok- the waiter said and walked to the corner. He started whispering to the manager, throwing some looks her way and rubbing his forehead nervously. The manager stilled him with a hand, then approached her table. She raised her head.
-Madam, did you ask for that bottle of wine? – he said.
– Yes, I did- she answered.
– The whole bottle?
– Yes, the whole bottle – she said – Is that a problem?
– No, no, no problem. It is just that, we can’t sell it by the glass, you understand?
– I get that. The bottle is fine.
– It is expensive, that’s all.
– Is it the same price as the menu?
– Yes madam, we’re a serious establishment here.
She almost burst with frustration.
– Then bring me the bottle! – she said – My husband and I…
– Oh your husband is coming?
– He is on his way, yes.
The manager left. Presently the much debated bottle and two chilled glasses appeared at her table. Her husband arrived shortly after.