A New Regular Discovered


diogenes_icon.gif hadley_icon.gif

Scene Title A New Regular Discovered
Synopsis When Diogenes comes in for a bit of sausage-roll, he decides the bakery is a bit of oasis.
Date July 11, 2009

Piece of Cake Bakery

The front room of the bakery is a long and narrow one. A great glass window covers the wall facing the street, so that anyone outside can see in. The door is glass as well; on bright days the shop is filled to the brim with sunshine. Drop lamps abovehead help at night, casting a warmer and softer light. Classic black and white tiling collects smudges more often than not on the floor and walls. In the back is a hallway which leads further to the kitchen, a small bathroom for customers to use, and a set of creaky stairs that go up to the second floor. The entire building is warm, and the air is redolent with the scents of pastry both savory and sweet, cookies, muffins, chocolate and fruit, bread and more.

A long, waist-high counter is on the left after stepping inside. The top is flat so purchases can be set down, and baked goods of all sorts are on display inside. Down at the far end is the cash register: leaving means walking past all the tempting wares all over again. Though it isn't particularly fancy, a coffee machine next to the register has a sign that reads "Donations": the cups and plain coffee are free, but change dropped inside goes to local charities. Three small bistro tables sit along the right wall; it's a tight fit, but three (or four if they're close friends) people can sit at each to enjoy a bite before going on their way. A bell above the door jangles merrily whenever it's opened.

The timing must be just-so. After all, who wants to come in during the lunch rush? It's bound to be crowded, and noisy, and generally annoying on a great many levels. But coming afterwards means there might not be enough left to pick from. So early is really the best time, that lull just before the storm. Mrs. Hadley, wearing an all black dress, is bustling around behind the counter, getting things ready. It would seem she's neglected her specials for the week, because she has the sign down and a bit of chalk ready and waiting to cursive-out the new list just as soon as she has everything on display. Small cards inside the display itself bear names: regulars perhaps, those who have a claim on this bit of pastry or that. The radio tucked by the register is piping out the strains of NPR moving from classical music into the booming rattle of a commentator getting ready to rant his fill.

The frail young man that is Diogenes steps into the bakery with reluctant steps, for it was his first visit in this particular establishment. Since the day was in the middle of the summer, and it was too warm for a jacket, he had left it in his abode, and rolled up his sleeves to alleviate the heat that, despite his slender frame, aggressively wraps itself around him. He has arrive this early just to that he would avoid the crowds he finds so unpleasant, and for other minute details, such as the fact he had no money to afford satiable meals. Walking up towards the counter, he flashes a smile to the elderly woman. "Nice pun… in the title of the bakery", he remarks, opening his over-the-shoulder bag and digging inside to retrieve his wallet.

"Oh!" Mrs. Hadley, her attention on the work, totally missed both jangle of bells above the door /and/ footsteps. Up until Diogenes speaks, that is: she jumps a little, hand rising to chest. The smile she offers him is a weary thing — she's looking every drop her seventy-odd years right now, especially in black — but it's still a fair attempt at cheer. "Startled me half to death! Do you like it, dear? When I bought this place, I thought, oh… oh, you might as well make it a cute sign, right?" Certainly the wedge-of-cake that is the 'a' in the word could be called cute. "I might be a little slow, everything's so spread out, but you go right ahead and take a look at what we've got, young man. Or I can make a suggestion?"

There was something in elderly people that Diogenes liked. He couldn't quite pinpoint it, but he guessed they had what children lost on their way to adulthood, but at the same time, the ignorance in youngster that this man despises is usually not present in aged men and women. He rarely had to pretend to be either someone overly pleasant or someone needlessly callous. He could be simply himself. "Oh, sorry, I… kind of opened the door slowly, and the bell rang dully", he justifies himself. "Didn't mean to startle you, and yes - that's a pretty cute, old-fashioned sign", he admits, turning his attention to the vast selection of goods on display. "I have to say, though, it doesn't reflect the tranquility and pleasant atmosphere this place has. It simply doesn't do this little spot of heaven in the deepest reaches of Hell justice", he notes.

She leans across the counter then, hand patpatpatting against his forearm. "Don't you blame yourself for me going deaf, dear." Mrs. Hadley straightens up and gives the room a contemplative sort of look. "Spot of heaven… well, I don't know that it has quite the ring as 'piece of cake,'" she allows to him with a quick flash of a grin. "But it does wonders for my mood to hear it! Is it really so hot out there, dear?" Her assumption that he simply means the weather is quite clear.

Although not one for physical interaction, he stands completely still when he's patted on the forearm that was resting on the counter. His glance lands on that wrinkled hand giving a few friendly pats on his pale-skinned slim arm before he looks back up at her. Out of nowhere, a weighty feeling of nostalgia presses upon his shoulders. His smile wanes, and he lets out a soft sigh. "Not that much. I guess I'm just sensitive to heat", he replies, deciding not to dwell on what he actually referred to as 'Hell'. "Do you have… the sort of buns… elongated ones, with a sausage inside them?" After a brief pause, he adds with a chortle, "That actually sounded weirder than it did in my head."

If she realizes she crossed a line by touching his arm, there's no sign of it; Mrs. Hadley continues on her chatty course as if these things are simply the way of the world. When his smile wanes, hers grows for reassurance' sake. "Don't you worry, once the fall comes, it will be comfortable enough to go outside without worrying about burning up in a flash." A nod agrees with herself that this will, indeed, be a better time. That grin only turns into a laugh at his latter comment. "Oh, I've heard much worse, don't worry about it for a moment." She turns to bobble down along the aisle behind the counter, words rattling out all the while. "Why, one of my girls told me once, Mrs. Hadley, you ought to make a little meal of a bratwurst sausage and a pair of buns, and call it after my boyfriend, the Hunkgarian!" The door behind the display squeaks as it opens. A bit of croissant wrapped around a sausage is plucked free with some was paper for sanitation's sake. "And when she got through speaking, you could have lit up the night sky with how hard she was blushing! I think one of her friends put her up to it as a dare."

So contagious Hadley's smile was, that Diogenes couldn't help but feel the two corners of his lips slowly climb upwards. A nod is given to solidify what the woman said in regards to autumn. Indeed, Fall can't come soon enough. A pity that the chilly winds will not cool the metaphorical Hell that he actually had in mind when he spoke of it. The city will continue to be a hellish place, with its own convoluted web of intrigue that will confuse even those who spun it in the first place. He was surprised that not only such people as Mrs. Hadley existed in New York, but that people like her managed to survive financially whilst owning a bakery. This woman was the missing gear in the clockwork that Tom saw the world as. She was ruining his grim outlook on life. And all he could do is smile helplessly and feel upbeat. In fact, he even chuckles softly when the 'Hunkgarian' is mentioned. "Yeah, it was probably a dare. A very well-thought out one, I have to admit. How much is that?", he asks, gesturing towards the croissant.

The price is rattled out without a glance: "$4.99, and that's the lunch price, which doesn't /technically/ start until noon, but it's close enough that I'm not going to worry about an hour." Mrs. Hadley lifts it for him to see and asks, "Would you like it warmed to eat here, dear? The crowds won't be shoving through for a little while yet, so you have some time left to sit and enjoy it if you'd like." Her expression twists into a merry sort of rue. "She couldn't look at me straight for /days/ afterwards. You young people, always so certain your elders don't know a thing about the world." There's no sign of actual annoyance at the 'young people' in question, only relaxed amusement.

A bit costly. On the other hand, it was still much cheaper than an actual meal, which he simply couldn't afford. And a job? His foolish pride still was still rendering him too reluctant to look for one. "Four ninety nine?", he echoes the price as an interrogative before pausing in thought, angling his jaw to the side. "Okay, I guess I'll have three, to-go. That's… fourteen ninety seven, right?", he asks, narrowing his eyes, anticipating confirmation from the elder woman. "I really enjoy your company and would love to chat, but… you know how it is in New York. People so busy they can't even stop to appreciate the finer details in life."

"Listen to you, rattling out the math so easily!" Mrs. Hadley's appreciation for that skill is obvious. And just as obviously not shared. She pulls out two more, and sets them all into one of those little folding cardboard boxes before she bobbles back over to the register. A calculator is tugged free of a drawer so she can carefully punch the buttons. "That's exactly right," she agrees, flashing him a pleased smile. "Let me write out this receipt, just one moment…" A pad of carbon-paper receipts are pulled free as well. The old woman writes it out then. By hand. It's a pretty cursive, at least. While she busies herself with that, she chatters away: "Well, you just come on in some other time when you've got it to spare, and enjoy something in the quiet, hm? If you'd like, I can make up a little card for you, so if you want to call in and reserve something ahead of time, it won't go walking out the door."

"If only you were as proud of my mathematical skills as my Maths lecturer back in university", he muses jokingly, watching all of his ordered buns being packaged in a peculiar fashion, one that Diogenes hasn't witnessed before. He also watches her take the calculator, wondering if he actually had it right. When it turns out he did, it can't be said that his ego wasn't stroked, and as such his smile only grows. "Sure, I'm not in an awful rush", he replies when she tells him to wait just a little bit longer for the receipt. This is also the first time Thomas sees a handwritten receipt. How quaint and curious, he thinks. "Sure, I'd very much like that. I can't afford real meals, so I suppose your bakery will be feeding me."

Mrs. Hadley sets the receipt into the little box, then folds it so the handles are jutting up. Tahdah, lunch-box. "You're not the first student to come through here, dear," she assures him with a nod. "It's amazing, how tight money can be when you're spending all your energy /learning/ things. Don't you worry about it though, there's always the lunch-specials, and I try to make sure something on the weekly list isn't all sweets, so you might take a look at those. I haven't gotten them up this past week." And for a moment, her expression falls: sorrow flares up and then down again. Whatever's kept her this week, it's set aside in favor of a deep breath and renewed ease. "But it should be soon." One of the little white cards is tugged free from under the register so she can wave it at him. "Now then, what name should I put down so we know who it's being saved for?"

The man cants his head to the side, amused by the result of the packaging. Examining the quickly crafted self-made lunch box that is easily carried around, he can't help but feel that it's even more comfortable than old-fashioned plastic bags. The topic of students and their problems with finances catches Tom's attention, though, and he looks up at Mrs. Hadley. "Well, who isn't having problems with money today, right?", he answers with an equally comforting smile. As absent-minded as he can be, though, only now he remembers arguably the most vital part of this exchange - payment. Hurriedly, the wallet is opened and a few digits slip in to draw a tenner and a fiver, both handed to Hadley. "Sorry, haven't had a good night's sleep for far too long. Another side-effect of being a student." There goes his first lie. Perhaps he was simply too dependent on lies to given them up even in the company of someone like Hadley. Or the other girl, Isis. "And my name is Diogenes. Yeah, lots of mockeries in school endured for that." And another lie. Some are simply beyond salvation.

The register CLANGs out a bell when she hits the buttons to open the drawer. "Well, I'm not your mother of course, but you really ought to get a good eight hours anyway, dear." Mrs. Hadley pulls out the bit of change and offers it out with a laugh. "But don't worry, I'll try very hard not to advice you into the ground." Pennies handed over, she leans over and carefully begins to cursive the name onto the card. "Spell that for me, dear? It's been quite some time since I was in school myself, I'm afraid. What does it mean?"

Diogenes nods in response. "Yeah, I know, but… I guess the odd sleeping schedule from Spring stuck with me", he adds, referring to the tide of exams, which he apparently didn't have, having abandoned his university in his home country quite a while ago. Grabbing the pennies one by one and slinging them into the wallet, he spells out the name for her: "Dee, i, oh, gee, ee, en, es. Die-oh-gee-nis. Named after the Greek philosopher, who roamed the streets at night with a light in his hand, looking for an honest man. Supposedly, he's the first cynic in human history." The wallet is put back into his over-the-shoulder bag, but the lunch box obviously won't fit there. Instead, he will carry it at his side. His free hand is left on the counter, waiting for the card to be finished so that he could take it.

"That's a heavy name for a child," Mrs. Hadley notes with a startled laugh. "I'm sure you're doing everything you can to live up to it though." And for all that she's known him for a whole ten minutes, she sounds quite certain of that. "There we go!" The card is held up, name spelled out in graceful lines that speak of handwriting learned in a long-ago decade. They don't teach it like that in schools anymore. "I'll just keep this here, and when you know you'll be coming in, you give a call and ask me or my latest helper to put it in the display case next to whatever it is you want," she instructs. "Then you can come pick it up later that day or the next."

"That is really neat", he comments, examining the fine writing which caught his attention. And as his eyes savour the wondrous hand-writing, he also notes: "They say calligraphy is similar to ballet, in some ways." A small pause. "Again, thanks for both your 'Hunkgarians' and your contagious good mood. Keep it up and don't let any dark clouds cast a shadow on your day", he says as his parting words and with a nod of gratitude, he would begin to retreat towards the door to leave.

Her laughter follows him out, a self-deprecating note coloring it when she notes, "I haven't danced in far too long, so I'll stick to the cards! You have a good day, dear… I'll see you around, I'm sure." And with that, Mrs. Hadley goes back to her preparations for the rush to come, humming a little under her breath. Sadly, she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, so it's not a particularly good tune.

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