I met Jonathan when he was twenty seven. Back then he was working as a dish washer in a sea food restaurant. I remember him standing outside, desperately trying to light a cigarette in the rain. He wore an apron with a crab on it and he was shivering. As I approached him, I heard him swear quietly in a language I didn’t know. When I spoke to him, taking him under my umbrella, asking for the way, he stared at me with his insanely blue eyes and the heavy rings below them, listening. This was the first time I felt naked in his stare, I felt as though he was reading my mind. He didn’t answer my question, in fact he didn’t say a word. Being protected from the rain by my umbrella he finally managed to light the cigarette and take a deep drag. With this small movement of his lips and lungs all his pain and stress seemed to fall off him. I could feel his smoky breath on my shoulders. Suddenly he said something:
„Welcome to Shrimptopia. We serve Shrimp shakes, Shrimp burgers and Shrimp soup. Come in and heat up.“
He was reciting a commercial slogan sounding like he was bored to death. His voice was uncommonly high for a man and he spoke with an accent I couldn’t place.
„You didn’t answer my question,“ I said and entered Shrimptopia, leaving my umbrella with him so he could finish his smoke.
I sat down at a table in the back, near the big windows. I had a good view over the stormy sea that had taken on the same dark colour as the sky. I had ordered a Shrimp shake because they were out of burgers and soup. My request to turn the shake into soup by heating it up had been neglected by the grumpy waitress who had slammed the drink on the table in front of me and said:
I had paid and now took a sip of my ice cold drink. It was awful. The waitress left my table to serve other customers who looked about as happy with their order as I did. I forced another sip of my Shrimp shake down my throat as Jonathan entered. He walked towards me, sat my umbrella on the table and said:
Outside it still poured like hell and suddenly I wasn’t as unhappy with my situation as I had been before.
„I’m looking for a man called Andrew Walters,“ I started.
„He’s supposed to live ‚round here. On the island I mean.“
„Never heard of him,“ said Jonathan and was about to enter the kitchen.
„He is my father,“ I said, because I couldn’t think of a better lie.
„Shouldn’t you know where to find him then?“, Jonathan said with his hand on the handle of the kitchen door.
He had almost slipped into the cooking place, when he turned around, held the door open and said with a small smile that lit up his face:
„Nice try. I’m Andrew Walters‘ son.“
I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was nothing but an impulsive, silly girl at that time, as I followed him into the kitchen, leaving my Shrimp shake behind. I made my way through screaming kitchen staff, the grumpy waitress, food smells that reminded me of rancid butter and a cloud of steam until I found him.
„You lied to me,“ I screamed over the kitchen noises right into his face.
„So did you,“ was all he said.
He was busy cleaning nastily sticky bowls and his hands had bruises all over them from all the rubbing. Getting soap in his wounds must have hurt like hell. He wasn’t going to tell me anything. Not unless I surprised him somehow, amazed him, got him to see me as the source of all his future happiness. So I bent forward and kissed him on his strange thin lips, gently but firm. Never would it have occurred to me that to him the touching of our lips actually meant something.
„Come to this address, tomorrow at ten am,“ he said, looking at me with those strange eyes of his, handing me a card which he had produced out of his pocket.
I nodded and left Shrimptopia.
Of course we ended up together. We spent a lot of time with each other with me hanging around in his father’s house all the time, silently observing everything. For my article about the man who had gained all his wealth through investing in steel, I needed to find out everything. Capture, absorb everything. Andrew was a sweet man, old but sweet.
“There were other journalists, you know. Many. But none of them was as sweet as you are my dear. I asked Jonathan a while ago to keep them at bay for me, but you aren’t like them.”
Was I? He loved to call me his daughter in law and there were days when I wished that someday I would be her. Maybe Jonathan and I could comfort each other in living with the emptiness that we both felt, or maybe we just liked to spend time with each other. Maybe we even could have been happy together some day. If only I hadn’t left him without saying goodbye.