“Son of a-” exclaimed Theo in surprise. His butt stung from the sudden impact of hitting the cafe floor and the shock of the fall had him blinking up at the person who knocked him over. The entire cafe had turned towards the blonde haired man standing where he had knocked Theo down, and the brief silence caused by the clatter was enough to shake Theo out of the surprise.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized as he began kneel forward, grabbing the tray of drinks that had fallen with him. All but two of mugs that had been on it were broken, and the plate with muffins on it was cracked, the snacks scattered all over. He could feel the eyes of the entire cafe on himself and the man who knocked him down. As he kneeled forward to grab the black tray he looked up at the man, slightly surprised that the stranger hadn’t apologized or even moved.
If we were being honest it was the other man’s fault for knocking Theo down, though he wasn’t a stickler for blame. It was a social courtesy to apologize mutually when someone gets knocked down so spectacularly, but people aren’t always polite.
The man’s face turned bright red and his grayish blue eyes locked with Theo’s when he looked up. For a split second the world paused as the man’s jaw muscle twitched to say something, but the moment passed and the man turned neatly on his heel and practically ran out of the cafe.
Theo gaped for a moment, at the door shutting behind the man; what an asshole! The cafe quickly resumed its chatter as the patrons began making all sorts of speculations about the strange man. Looking down at the mess, Theo pursed his lips and felt a quiet red anger steal over his thoughts. Asshole, he thought again as he went about picking up the larger porcelain pieces that had scattered around his fall.
When he had been carrying a tray full of drinks and a plate of muffins this idiot just appears out of nowhere and smacks into Theo, knocking him to the ground and upending his tray so that the contents scatter all over the floor. He hadn’t been knocked down like that since high school basketball when someone set a good pick.
His pants were wet from where the hot coffee and other drinks had seeped into the fabric, and there were splattered brown stains all over the white button down he wore at work. The hot coffee had burned initially, but he was too surprised to process the pain, now the rapidly cooling wet spots gave a contrast between his seared skin and the sticky fabric that clung to it. He let this pain and discomfort fuel his annoyance as he stood up with his tray of broken ceramic and ruined muffins, heading back into the kitchen area.
Once through the doors he dropped the tray onto the counter unceremoniously, and took a deep breath. “Hey Joel,” he said to the chef and owner on the other side of the counter. “I’m going to take a break. I need to change.”
Joel turned and just nodded before returned to his stove. Still scowling, Theo began to stalk further back through the kitchen towards the back entrance where the staff kept their things in a closet. Untucking his stained shirt he began unbuttoning the wrists as he walked.
“Theo, I saw what happened, you alright?” The small waitress was coming from the kitchen with a wet towel and kind eyes. Her long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail that swished behind her as she moved towards him, nearly black eyes full of concern.
He began unbuttoning the shirt as she followed him back to the staff closet. “I’ll be fine Ali,” he said as he finally managed to drag the sticky shirt off him and hang it on the closet door-knob. He grabbed the towel from her thankfully. “Just gonna need to change and get cleaned up.” He rubbed his face with the damp cloth first, grateful that she had grabbed the clean towels not used for dishes.
“What an asshole!” Ali said as she leaned her hip against the wall near the closet. “At least he could have apologized!”
“Yah, well, people can be assholes,” said Theo as he wiped his arms off with the towel. “Shit, my pants are soaked too. Do you think Joel’ll let me borrow a pair till the end of shift? I have a spare shirt but…” He had tugged off his undershirt and wiped the large sticky damp spot on his left under his ribs as he was talking but stopped when Ali made a weird noise. Looking up he caught her staring at his chest and tried not to smirk.
“Ali~” he sang at her. Her eyes snapped up to his, tan skin blushing lightly.
“Sorry Theo,” she said, quickly regaining her composure. “Can’t blame me though!” she grinned at him, “you’re hot!”
He laughed and unzipped his backpack hanging in the closet. His spare shirt was horribly wrinkled, but it was better than nothing. Ali was still in high school and had a horrible crush on him, which she wasn’t shy about saying. It had taken him weeks to convince her that there was no way that was going anywhere, and although she had accepted it for the most part, she still did flirt with him.
“I’ll ask Joel about those pants,” said Ali as she disappeared into the kitchen. He sighed and leaned against the closet door where he had returned his backpack. His wrinkled shirt was folded messily in his hand and he closed his eyes for a moment. He was exhausted. Yes, working at the cafe was fun, and he loved the staff and the regular customers, but he needed to get out of here. Fingering the gold medallion that hung around his neck he took a deep breath. No time to wallow, he had work to do.
Just as he turned to walk to the restrooms a pair of pants flew at his face. “Joel says you can borrow them, but you gotta make sure you bring them back clean by Monday!” came Ali’s voice as the pants settled over his head.
“Thanks Ali,” said Theo as he pulled the pants off his head.
“And Trey is taking care of the mess,” came her voice as he headed towards the bathroom. “Once you’re out can you start taking orders again?”
“Sure,” he said slipping into the back bathroom with his fresh change of clothes. He locked the door and stripped down, using some damp paper towels to clean the damp sticky areas that covered his left leg and half his bum. Quickly redressing in the borrowed pants and wrinkled shirt he looked in the mirror. His buzzed short hair had flattened oddly in some places making it look like he had just got out of bed, the effect amplified by the wrinkled shirt and ill-fitting pants. He smiled his charming smile and willed his annoyingly dark mood to dissipate.
At least I’ll get some good tips from the girls, he thought as he did one last once-over and headed back out of the bathroom. Tucking a tray under his arm and putting on his biggest flirty smile he headed out the door into the main cafe. Sauntering up to the table that he had been bringing the drinks and muffins to before being knocked down he smiled apologetically at the high schoolers. “I’m sorry about your drinks and muffins,” he ducked his head a little, “I’ll make sure you get your order as soon as possible!”The girls about melted. “No hurry, it’s okay!” “We saw that guy push you over!” “He was so rude!” “Are you okay?” Theo grinned.