flash fiction.

Distraction in the Coffee House by Mark Tulin

While drinking coffee with my wife, I was distracted by a couple sitting at the table across from us. The young woman was a chatterbox, talked without taking a breath, and had a loud, twangy tone. The man, who was stout and wore a Yankees cap sideways, barely spoke.

The man’s gaze dropped to his phone, and every so often, he looked up to give her the indication that he was listening.

As time wore on, the man appeared increasingly uncomfortable—crossing his legs, uncrossing, holding his face in his hands, rotating his neck, standing up, sitting down.

It was as if he wanted to escape the situation but couldn’t. 

The longer he endured the conversation, the more difficult it was for him to pay attention despite his chugging down one black coffee after another.

“What are you looking at?” my wife asked annoyingly.  “You’ve been staring at that couple for the last thirty minutes.”

My wife was not the kind of person that gawked, but I was. I gave her a play by play of the situation so she would understand why I was so interested.  “Honey, the man is drooling out of the corner of his mouth as the woman’s rambling appears to be utterly unbearable.”

“I can hear her,” my wife said.  “But why don’t you finish your coffee before it gets cold.  And you haven’t touched your scone.”

“Honey, the guy’s face is starting to twitch in spasm. Could you believe that?”

“I sure can,” my wife said with sarcasm. 

She tapped my arm to get my attention.

I turned to her.

Once our eyes met, she said in a firm but soft voice, “That’s how you look when I’m talking to you.”

Freelance writer, poet, yogi and photographer from Santa Barbara, California. I write and take pictures about a variety of topics, from my early childhood in Philadelphia, to my years as a family therapist, and finally to my soul-searching years in California. The things that move me may have a humorous or serious content or both. Either way, I hope my poetry, pictures and stories resonate with you.

32 comments on “Distraction in the Coffee House by Mark Tulin

  1. Oh dear! I love watching other people too. 🙂

  2. Loved the ending. I once had an absorbing coffee break watching a woman with a lap top trying to explain Facetime to her ex husband so they could talk to their daughter who was just waking up in New York. If only she knew that she was broadcasting to the cafe of a department store from her bed!

  3. Oh, knife to the heart.

  4. Ha ha ha… I wondered where you were going with this…too true!

  5. Hm… 😉
    Interesting.

  6. Hilarious

  7. This is AWESOME and I hope for you sake a piece of fiction. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. So funny. I spend a lot of time people watching too!

  9. Oh man…BUSTED! That happens to me too. I have to be so, so careful of when I’m with friends out that I don’t pay attention to nothing but them. Thanks for pointing this out to us…and humorously at that! 🙂

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