CoffeeShop Blues: 2015 Traveler's Edition - Page 22

CoffeeShop Blues the store comes out to smoke, and she watches as I remove my snow boots and put on my new walking shoes—it is a happy moment for me but also for Inge—this simple moment—and the woman goes inside and returns with instant coffee for us, and now it is a happy moment for all three of us. Back on the plain—on the sea—and though the swells are smaller now the wind has not abated. The previous town is over the horizon behind us, the next one has yet to appear on the horizon before us. Inge has cycled ahead, and on the dirt track in the distance a cart approaches, pulled by a trotting mule. In this world I can see only the plain and this approaching cart and I can hear only the wind and my own breathing. I stop to unload my packs, and I untie my snow boots and remove them from my big pack, and as the cart nears me it’s driver peers—he is dark and stocky, middle aged, with a thick crop of gray hair blown by the wind—we are the only humans in existence—and I stand and wave the boots at him and he slows the cart, not stopping it—and he shakes his head—he thinks I am selling them—but I thrust the boots towards him and as he passes he takes the boots and then he lightly whips the mule back to speed and waves without looking back and I haul my packs back onto my body and I plod onward expecting to find Inge somewhere beyond the next ridge. After some time there is a car—it is the only car—and it speeds down the low ridge but I can only hear the wind. Only when it has passed through the trough and rises towards me do I hear the car’s motor, and as I and the car are the only two things on the sea, it stops beside me. The man in the car laughs and asks me questions and though I don’t understand the language I know what the questions are. “Istanbul!” I shout above the motor and the wind. “Istanbul?” he shouts back, and something else, but I shrug. The man hands me a can of beer and speeds away across the sea. I unload my packs and sit on the big pack and I gulp down the beer 22