Day 127 – The Waterbridge Café – Part 1

Word count: 1086

 

 

Mr Lewins had been summoned to the small Waterbridge Café at approximately eleven o’clock in the morning on Sunday the fourteenth of March. The letter, which had arrived some days ago, was now clutched in his right hand as he read through the invitation one last time before getting out of taxi. The letter failed to mention who it was from or to what purpose the meeting was for.

 

Henry Lewins was not the type to get involved in mysteries. He enjoyed a quiet life; operas, arias, weekends away in the Lake District. He lived alone in a large town house in the softer end of London. Inheriting his family’s wealth, he did not work. He had few friends and even then he questioned the reasons as to why he liked them. He had no siblings and no living relatives save an Aunt in Devon who could not even remember her own name, let alone his.

 

It was more than a little odd, therefore, for of a Sunday morning for Henry to be leaving his home at all, much less taking a taxi to some working class end of London where pheasant was considered foreign food. Henry leered at the street from the top of his long nose as he exited the taxi. Rain was dolloping down from a grey sky. Henry looked up and scowled.

 

The street was lined with small little shops; pawnbrokers, cafés, charity clothing retailers. The flats above looked as if they might be riddled with vermin and possibly even rodents. The passers-by were crooked and wretched looking. A gang of old women with white hair and tufts of beard growing from the chins like weeds staggered by in zimmerframes and tartan shopping trolleys. Several youths lined the opposite side of the street with baseball caps and trousers belted at their knees. Henry could smell the alcohol from another group of men stumbling across the pavement near what appeared to be an off-licence.

 

“Disgusting,” he said, simply and made to march down the road.

“Excuse me!” yelled the taxi drive in a thick East-End accent.

 

Henry turned, coat whipping round his legs, “Yes?”

“You haven’t paid. Thirty-four-eighty.”

Henry made a tutting noise and rolled his eyes, delving into his wallet and extracting exactly thirty-four-eighty from it.

“Thank you,” he said to the taxi driver, who looked more than a little prematurely expectant that he might get a tip.

The taxi driver pulled away and left Henry dangerously close to a woman with craggy skin and a cavernous mouth. She was smoking. Henry furled his brow in disgust.

“Disgusting,” he repeated.

The woman clearly heard but was too drunk to react. Henry looked in either direction. The Waterbridge Café should be here. A fluttering panic began in his chest. He instructed the driver to take him right outside the establishment. Sticking his neck out, he tried to squint down the street to see a sign. He was wondering how long he could avoid asking one of the local specimens for direction when he spotted it, as if it were a mirage in a desert.

 

The rain was skewing down now. Henry had wished he had had the foresight to bring his umbrella. It was crashing to the pavement like a million miniature maracas. The bottoms of Henry’s trousers were getting soaked. It was uncomfortable.

 

A man in a black umbrella was standing outside the café. He was dressed in a smart, dark grey suit. He, too, did not look part of this world. Henry approached him.

 

“Excuse me, are you the man that sent me this letter?”

The man shook his head and returned a look so as to reveal his disapproval of Henry speaking to him.

“Sorry.”

“Henry,” a voice behind him spoke.

Henry turned to see a young man with long hair, jeans and a stubbly beard: three appearance issues that Henry had particular trouble accepting on men.

“Yes?”

“My name is Adam. I invited you here.” The young man gestured to enter the café.

 

It was a dive. Henry had no enthusiasm to summon enough optimism to describe it as anything more. The waitress displayed a definite air that she would have rather have eaten her own liver than work here if it were not for the fact that she had to pay the rent. Several old and wrinkled men huddled by a window table and gorged on a protein feast of eggs, bacon and beans. Vats of tea were being thrown down their oesophagi. Despite the quantity of frying delicacies, the place had a stench of stale vodka.

 

They took a table at the back, away from everyone. The waitress stomped over to them immediately, face screwed with boredom and a little notepad and pencil.

 

“Whaddya want?” she chewed gum.

“Do you have a menu?”

The waitress returned him an odd look.

“Two teas, please,” the young man stepped in and saved the awkwardness.

 

As the waitress busied herself with the teas, Henry perused his date. He did not look a day older than twenty four. He had clean teeth despite his obvious appearance and he was thus far the only one had he had encountered on this side of town not to look as if he belonged in a gutter. There was something curious about his eyes, perhaps they were a little bloodshot.

 

“I’m sorry for summoning you here,” the young man apologised.

“Then why did you?”

“I did not think there was any other way to get to meet with you.”

“Why? What made you think that? I detest mysteries.”

“Then why did you come?”

“Intrigued,” Henry narrowed his eyes. “Who are you?”

“Adam.”

“No I mean, who are you? You don’t look like you have lived here all your life.”

“No I haven’t. I do not live here at all.”

“Then why here, why this café?”

“Henry -”

“Mr Lewins to you.”

“Mr Lewins. I’m here about your brother.”

“My brother? I have no brother.”

“Yes you do. He came into contact with me. He’s in trouble. He needs your help.”

“I’m an only child. The only living relative I have has gone senile. You must have simply reached the wrong person.” Henry made to get up.

“Henry Lewins of Ashford Court. Born the thirty-first of May to Victoria and Ralph Lewins. Sent to Boarding School at age seven. Educated at Oxford. Sole inheritor to the Lewins Estate. Is still afraid of the dark.”

Henry froze. “Go on.”

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~ by S.G. Mark on February 11, 2012.

One Response to “Day 127 – The Waterbridge Café – Part 1”

  1. Hello! I actually haven’t read it yet but I’m sure I will. Just wanted to say hello 🙂 x x

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