On a whim he had put up a sign reading ‘café’, wondering if it would compel anyone to wander in from the streets and navigate the narrow stairs, up to his humble abode, perched delicately on the first floor of an abandoned carpet weaver’s shop in the old town centre.
If someone did he wouldn’t have much to offer them. A dusty flask of cheap bourbon. An off bottle of milk. The rusty water from his kitchen sink. Then again, he himself had never frequented drinking holes for the booze. It was company he sought and acceptance, if only for a few fleeting hours, from random strangers.
The ragged girl who turned up on his front door chose the bourbon. She wasn’t much of a looker, though her clothes and makeup suggested she was taking a break in between paid affections, but when she spoke an exotic, fragile accent made sure you’d never forget her.
She claimed to have once worked for the carpet weaver in the shop below, an abusive man with little compassion, who upon his death had sent his shylocks on her trail, forcing her into her current profession. She did not shed a tear as she told her harrowing tale, did not ask for compassion. She almost seemed happy to revisit the cradle of her ordeals.
By the time he realized it wasn’t company or acceptance she sought, it was already too late.
The carpet weaver had escaped her revenge.
Now any random stranger would do.