The Sandwich Shop

His name is Dale Leontz, and every single sandwich on his café’s menu is named after a woman.  There is no door to the café, only a doorway, and when the sun sets Dale leaves the building as if it were not his, although it is his, and tables and chairs and food and cooking utensils lie in plain sight for any mischievous citizen on the street to steal.  As a result of this, theft occasionally occurs, and Dale’s tables and chairs, his plates and glassware, and even his orange juice brands, all lack consistency or commonalities.  The only constant in the café are the tables, weathered farm house tables that have been painted twenty times by twenty different owners and now reside in the possession of Dale, because the tables are too big to fit through the doorway and cannot be stolen by thieves.  On Sunday evenings, Dale rents the space to a local interpretive dance instructor named Dutch, a 62 year old man that has held 39 different professions, each one occupying exactly a year of his life since he graduated university.  Dale and Dutch have known each other most of their lives, and if ever asked to describe the other they will say the same things, which, more often than not, involve a penchant for charcuterie, sailboats, and freckled women.  Dale is a man of style and principle and insists on a certain setting for his café.  A setting according to Dale’s doctrine, with liner notes provided by Dutch, is everything from the tangible to the theoretical, from objects and people to virtues and ideas.  The setting of the café is something that Dale was preparing to create his entire life, and when it finally came time to change careers and open up the café, he knew what it would look like.

On one particular overcast afternoon, on the old television that receives its reception from reformed hangers, a 24-day-long match of cricket, a match that Dale has seen nothing of, plays out peacefully with the volume turned down just enough so that the announcer’s rabble is incoherent to even the closest viewers.  On this afternoon it is not busy in the café, nor is it slow.  Some customers stir their coffee, some read the Herald, some do nothing at all; a few of them are regulars and two or three, happening to be on vacation in the small but dense seaside town that the café calls home, two or three are here on the nonchalant recommendation of a hotel clerk.  Dale sees this sort of business all of the time, but, because of his distaste for anything foreign, is hesitant to welcome it as a potential disturbance.  On this particular afternoon, a travelling gentleman not unlike the sort mentioned above walks into the café and, having never been there before, and not understanding the proper etiquette of the shop, orders a sandwich by referencing pastrami on sesame-encrusted rye, as opposed to requesting the appropriate woman’s name.  Dale notes the man’s presence as a violation of his doctrine and angrily claims that women are not pieces of meat, nor slices of bread for that matter, and with Peppadew breath effusing from under his silky, gray mustache, and with Dutch as his entourage, he banishes the man from his café.  As of record he has banished 38 people, including 4 relatives and Dutch himself, yet not one of these people has ever actually failed in their attempts to return, save for an older patron named Edgar that consequently passed away two days after the incident.  Every student of Dutch’s, every customer of Dale’s, every passerby that peruses the menu with feigned interest, and everyone that read Jack Thompson’s article in the Herald last week showcasing Dale’s café; everyone wants to know where the women’s names come from.  But the only people that know this, besides Dale and Dutch, are the women themselves.

 

@Dutch McDoogleson

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