Café Chocolaté

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Previous: Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVI – Adrian Terrence

Adrian and Xavier didn’t have an immediate plan. For awhile, they discussed possibilities for investigation in low tones that didn’t invite input from anyone else. Monique drifted off to sleep while they talked, Mr. Pickles tumbling onto the bench beside Xavier.

Fabian eventually sauntered away from Renee and Mary, coming to stand beside the table where the cousins sat, one finger tapping lightly against the top. “Are you going to begin investigating or just sit here chatting? Some people are getting antsy.”

“You, for instance?” Xavier looked the man up and down with a hint of amusement in his brown eyes.

“Not I.” He indicated the rest of the room with a vague movement of his head. “I am perfectly relaxed. There are others that are nothing short of high strung.”

Adrian resisted the urge to physically stop the man’s constant tapping. “We have decided to conduct interviews one-on-one. Would you care to be the first?”

Fabian grinned. “Would I care to be first? Sure.” Adrian moved down the bench to accommodate him, and the other man sat. “What is it that you want to know?”

Adrian pulled his writing notebook out of his coat pocket. He possessed a reasonably good memory, but thought that taking notes would be a wiser method of keeping records. He flipped past a few pages meant for his current book, titling the first clean one “Fabian Smith.”

“You said,” Xavier spoke in a low, even voice, entirely devoid of obvious emotion, “that you didn’t personally know Gary Bradshaw, but that you recalled seeing him in the café previously?”

Fabian raised a deprecatory hand and shook his head. “I said that I believed that I saw him in here last week. I wouldn’t swear to it.”

“Why not?” Adrian couldn’t help but wonder why the man seemed so cool and collected.

“Why not?” Fabian shrugged. “I only saw the man in passing, buried behind his tablet. We didn’t even meet each other’s eyes. Besides, it’s a bit difficult to match anyone to their living counterpart, once they’re dead, wouldn’t you say?”

Adrian couldn’t say that he agreed. In the few funerals that he had attended in his life, those departed resembled their living selves quite sufficiently for identification. He didn’t really see a point in arguing, however.

Fabian continued speaking. “I do believe that it is the same man though. Most people don’t use that booth that I’ve seen, except what’s-his-name.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, Timothy.”

“So you have noticed that few people use that table? For how long have you been visiting Café Chocolaté?” Adrian tapped his notebook lightly with his pencil once or twice.

“How long have I been visiting? Today? Or ever?”

Adrian set his pencil down altogether. “When did you first come inside?”

Fabian nodded. “When did I first come inside? About six months ago, I suppose.”

“How often do you come?” Xavier shifted Monique’s weight a little.

“How often do I come? Pretty nearly every day. I come for coffee. I don’t make it at home.”

“Just coffee? No food?” Xavier sounded skeptical.

Fabian leaned forward with a chuckle. “Have you tried the food here?”

Adrian couldn’t repress a bit of nodded assent at the unspoken declaration, when Fabian turned toward him.

“It isn’t good?” Xavier asked.

“Good? Frankly, it’s terrible.” Fabian shrugged and leaned back in his seat once more. “The coffee is superb – the kid knows what he’s doing. The chocolate – imported and perfection. The rest of the food though? I wouldn’t recommend anything I’ve tried. I don’t know what he does, but he even ruins a simple sandwich!”

“By ‘he’ you refer to Eddie McIntyre?” Xavier asked.

“Of course.” Fabian nodded. “I don’t know how he got hired.”

“The waitress, Ginger Thomas, doesn’t she prepare orders?”

Fabian chuckled again. “Not that I’ve ever seen. I don’t think she’s fond of that kind of work.”

Adrian frowned. While he had seen Eddie run the register on occasion, he realized that he hadn’t ever seen Ginger prepare a single order. Even when Eddie had been overrun. She just waited and made the customers wait as well. That is peculiar…

Fabian started tapping the table again. “Maybe the kid knows the owner or had a hard luck story or something. Who knows? Maybe they think his coffee skills outshine everything else.”

“Maybe no one has really complained.” Adrian tried to ignore the tapping. “I know that I haven’t.”

“I suppose.” Fabian grinned. “I would have complained, if I knew who to complain to. That was the worst sandwich I’d ever had!”

Adrian decided that they had rather wandered off the subject, and a glance at Xavier confirmed that he seemed to agree.

“Were you well acquainted with any of our friends here before today?”

“Was I well acquainted with any of them? Goodness, no. Seen them, of course, but I didn’t even know the names of any of you.” Fabian glanced around the room and smiled slightly. “They’re a mixed bunch, aren’t they? Can you imagine…” His eyes glinted with humor as he turned toward the cousins again. “Can you imagine if we’re all locked in here for 24 hours? 48?”

Adrian had considered a similar scenario, but hearing Fabian suggest it gave the idea a new and chilling aspect. He stared down at his notebook, picturing the possible scene.

I don’t know what state we would be in for certain by this time tomorrow, but it won’t be a good one. This time forty-eight hours from now? We’ll have some desperate people.

Fabian smiled grimly. “Quite a thought really, isn’t it. Some of us will probably kill each other if we wait too long. Some of us will go hungry, while others will succumb to bad food. Or maybe we’ll boot Eddie out of the kitchen and try our hands at making something decent!”

A shout from one of the women caused the men to turn, while the child whimpered.

“I said to leave him alone! I meant it.” Ginger’s eyes blazed and she pounded a fist on the table. Beside her, Eddie shook his head, while Mary sat across from her with a dropped jaw. Ginger struck the table again. “Leave him alone – and so help me, if you scream or even begin to scream, I’ll throttle you before Eddie can do a thing to stop me!”

Adrian sighed. Here we go again… What do we do with those two, Lord?

Fabian raised an eyebrow, cocking his head in Ginger’s direction. “See what I mean? 24 hours looks fascinating already…”

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Previous: Chapter XV


  1. Christianna Hellwig says:

    I can’t help it, I really like Fabian Smith. I dearly hope that he isn’t the murderer because I really, really like him….I guess it would be too obvious if her were…would it? Hmm, I love that the plot is thickening like this. Can’t wait for next week. ;)

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