Up, down, up, down, up, down—“shit."
I remember flicking my Lucky Penny into the sky and back into my hand, humming to myself, until I heard a faint curse from a tall man walking towards my direction. I watched him check his pockets and glance around his feet, clearly looking for something. I spotted a wallet laying open on the ground and quickly hurried to grab it before someone took it or the man disappeared.
Trying to catch him was the hardest part of doing a good deed, weaving through the crowd and having to stop a couple times to check where he went. For a tall man he was hard to find when you needed to.
Once I finally had a wide enough opening to get next to him, I tugged on his sleeve to grab his attention. His eyes turned before the rest of his face, a confused look spreading across his face before his eyebrows rose at the sight of his wallet in my hands.
“Thanks.” He murmured, face relaxing back into a neutral expression. He patted my shoulder gently and accepted the wallet from my outstretched hand. I smiled softly at the small gesture of acknowledgment his hand had shown me.
“No biggie! I’m just glad it wasn’t stolen. Wallets always have very important things in them that people don’t want to lose.” I stopped myself from rambling on any further, not wanting to take anymore of the guy’s time. He checked his watch quickly before laying his eyes back on me gently.
“Coffee?” He asked me, my own eyebrows rising in surprise this time. I nodded, suddenly shy at such a forward gesture from a man of few words.
I told him of a nearby cafe that has amazing drinks that I frequent, the man nodding and motioning for me to take the lead. Once we arrived at the shop, it was still early enough in the morning that the studies and gossips weren’t occupying the tables yet.
We sat at my usual spot at one of the more private tall tables, realizing how tall the stranger actually was hitting me when I noticed his feet almost grazing the floor, my own resting barely on the footrest on the barstool.
“Wow how tall are you?” I gapped, immediately taking back my statement in sputters. “I mean I noticed how your feet are basically touching the floor and—“ I stopped my floundering when I saw his shoulders shaking and his head shaking side to side with quiet chuckling. His head was down so I couldn’t see his face, but the slight emotion from such a stoic figure made me smile at him.
“I’m not used to such tall people, but I bet you’re like 6’8, 6’9, huh!” I guessed based on how he was heads above the other men on the street earlier. He shrugged and pondered a bit before answering. “6’7 without boots.”
My gaze immediately glanced towards his feet, two inch heeled mid-calf high boots resting toward the floor. “Amazing! So that makes you almost 7 feet! Man you’re so lucky.” I rested my forearms on the table right as an employee walked up to take our orders. I knew her from my mythology class and we’d traded notes a couple times, ending up as roommates later on. She was a pretty popular girl at my college, especially after she and the football star started going out.
I waved at her and she gleamed a beautiful smile at me. “What would you two gentlemen like? I know you probably want your regular, hmm Lucky?” I nodded my head with vigor and matched her smile. I turned towards my new acquaintance in question and he glanced my way before looking back at the girl. “Just black for me.”
She wrote down our orders and went to the back to get them ready. The man made eye contact with me the moment she turned away, a slight hint of curiosity in his pupils. “She’s in my mythology class. We’ve helped each other when we’ve missed a lecture or two.” He nodded in understanding at my answer to his unsaid question.
“Oh I haven’t gotten your name yet! How rude of me!” I slapped my forehead with the heel of my palm at the realization. The stranger stiffened and was a bit hesitant to answer but did before I could take anything back. “Call me Emilio.” He muttered, hand outstretched towards me to shake. I shook it with a gentle smile, returning the favor. “My name’s Lucille but my friends call me Lucky!”
After introductions, Holly came back with our drinks, my regular a sugary mess to those who haven’t tried it before. I guess you could say I had a major sweet tooth. Emilio’s eyebrows raised a little when my drink was placed in front of me, a pile of whip cream trying to escape from the rounded plastic lid keeping it captive in the cup.
I felt my face get hot with embarrassment as his eyes flicked between my drink and my face. “Not everyday you see diabetes in a cup, huh?” I joked when he finally took a sip of his black coffee. He shrugged and took another gulp before putting the mug back on the table quietly. Even though he placed it so gently, it was still enough in here to hear a pin drop, so the mug echoed towards the cash register, the worker there glancing in our direction before going back to filling the pastries in the glass shelving.
“So what do you do for a job?” I tried to continue the conversation from a few moments ago, curious about this stranger that fell into my lap at 7am. He took his time answering with another gulp of coffee like it was gonna give him the same confidence a shot of alcohol would give. “Tattoo artist.” he said bluntly. I oooed at his career choice, knowing how hard it can be as an everyday job. “That’s so cool! I currently go to school at DSU around the corner from here.” I smiled proudly, the college basically as close to an ivy league school as it gets around these parts of town.
He nodded with acknowledgement, my eyes searching for any more of a reaction. “What do you study?” He asked after a minute of pure silence. “I study mythology and linguistics.” I smiled sweetly, surprised he actually asked me something to continue the conversation.
For the majority of our time together I gathered that he was pretty stoic, the mysterious type that is always popular in the media. I was the golden retriever type to say it simply, even having the golden hair to go with it. Learning so much about culture and history makes me want to examine everyone around me, this stranger Emilio becoming my new interest in a way. I wanted to know more.
I tried to be inconspicuous when thinking of a way to ask to hang out again or maybe get his number so we can get coffee again. But even though I’m a social butterfly, I freak out on the inside when trying to actually get to know people. I have no way of asking someone to hang out without rehearsing it in my head a million times before.
Sitting here in a quiet cafe with a guy I just met an hour ago is making my heart rate accelerate and anxiety making my face flush. Maybe I’m not as extroverted as I thought. I twiddled with the straw in my sweet coffee, now scared to make eye contact in case he could read me like an open book.
“Uhm..” suddenly a piece of paper was pushed towards me, confusion choking my vocal cords. “My number.” Emilio murmured, looking me dead in the eye. “Oh uh..thanks.” I slid the paper off the table and into my pocket, setting a mental note to check the pockets before I washed them later.
“I will contact you, answer after two rings.” He said before slapping some cash on the table, definitely more than what both our orders came to, and said something about being late for work. I couldn’t even say goodbye when he rushed out the cafe door. The last sign of him being there was the ringing of the bell above the door echoing through the room.
Holly popped her head out of the kitchen door and rushed over to me. “You ok? Why’d he leave so suddenly?” She sat in the chair where he previously was, hands clasped together on the top of the table.
I shrugged, absolutely flabbergasted at what just happened. I suddenly felt hyper aware of the piece of paper still crumpled in my pocket, my head flooding with so many questions.
I didn’t see or hear from him for 5 weeks.