Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Tanim. I liked him; he was one of our better regulars, always smiled and tipped well, and he never tried to look down my shirt when I bent to refill his coffee. During slow afternoons we servers would make up stories about the people who came into the shop. I wanted to think Tanim worked for some government agency or something, partly because he’d come in at all hours and partly because he seemed so mysterious. He always came alone, after all, and he didn’t have a wedding ring or anything, and never met anyone at the café. The truth was probably a lot more depressing, of course, but I preferred to imagine he was a secret agent on break from spying on bad guys.
All that changed when he met that other one, the man with the gaunt face and odd white hair. He’d been coming to the café for a while and none of us really liked him. To be honest, he gave me the creeps. He spoke as little as possible, even when ordering the same plain black coffee every time, and he sat as far away from the other patrons as space allowed. It seemed like he hated being there, or maybe just hated being around people in general, but then why come at all? There was just something off about him, we all agreed on that, and not just because he looked like a ghost. But somewhere down the line Tanim got it in his head to make friends with the man and I watched him spend weeks trying to break his way into that closed off world. It took him a while but he managed it eventually, God knows how, and they started up a sort of friendship. They were an odd couple but I guess it worked for them well enough. It was nice to see Tanim with someone for once, though it didn’t make his new friend any more likeable to us.
And then one day they were both gone. That quiet one disappeared first and for a while I thought Tanim would just keep waiting for him like some puppy that’s been abandoned but doesn’t realize it yet, forlorn and stubbornly hopeful at the same time. But then one day he stopped coming too, and I haven’t seen either of them since. I don’t know if Tanim eventually gave up and moved on or if perhaps they reunited somewhere down the line. Part of me hopes not, just because I distrusted that strange man and would’ve liked Tanim to find someone else, but then I remember Tanim’s face when they were together and I can’t wish that loss on him. Wherever he is, I hope he’s happy.
[ An experiment. Don’t love it, but oh well. ]