"And then I was just done, you know? She said: those are for you, friend. And I just stared. I didn't know what to say. I blinked a few times and she said: What? And I shook my head and, physically, we moved on, but I got stuck on that moment. I don't know what to do."
His mother looked at him and sighed. She said, "Well, your daughters are more important than your temporary happiness. Julie's coronation is in two weeks. Your wife will be busy until then, and it isn't as if you can't be happy. You can even be happy with her. And with them. Your three women!"
I reached across the table and took my mother's delicate, papery hand in both of mine. "My four women," I said.
"Better make it five," My mother half snarled, and stood. "Queen mother!" She said, and bowed.
I turned around, immediately stood and bowed deeply at the Queen mother, who stood imperiously surveying the small cafe. She said, "Where are your guards?"
"Maum. Mine are in the back alley, both. And"
"And mine, one is on the roof, the other at the front door."
"I didn't see him."
"Her, Maum. I bade her blend in. It pleases me to hear that she did, Maum."
"Well. Good." The Queen mother's mechanical, bruise colored lips curled up. "It is a nice day," she said and sat. "What will we be having for breakfast?"
The café could seat ten people comfortably, but even if it were just the queen and the barista, no one would be comfortable. The tables and chairs shine with austere patinas of wars won and lost. The tables were new, polished polymer amber The whole front of the cafe was clear --the wall see through, the door see through. The frames were thick, squirming tentacles made of iron and carved with faux-inexpert rough polygonality.
What else? Winter was coming, but the day was unseasonably warm.
The restaurant emptied but for the Queen mother, myself, my mother and the suddenly pallid owner, who stayed bowed ninety degrees forward until the Queen mother sighed, flicked her fingers at him and said, "Do not burn my eggs. I like them baked, in their shells, with sweet potatoes."
"I. I'm ashamed to say I don't have an oven, Queen Mother. Just a gas range."
"Then I will take my eggs over hard, with fried sweet potatoes and onions, and a cup of your espresso. Tomorrow I will send my craftmen over and they will install a stove and this time next week, I will have your baked eggs and sweet potatoes. Are we clear?"
"nine fifty next Sunday morning, your baked eggs and sweet potato will be ready, Queen mother. Thank you queen mother."
"You may start cooking, the Queen mother said. She turned to us and asked, "