Samson, also hungry, walked into his favorite café near the university. In his hurry to escape the awkwardness of his marriage night Samson woke early, leaving the lavash and honey on the counter as a guilt alleviating kindness on his way out the door. That’s the worst of it, he thought as he leaned against the easy hinged swinging door of the café. A couple of elderly men, bent and smiling with their well-earned senility shuffled slowly around the bulk of Samson’s chest. He stood propped against the door now like a mountainous doorstop. Once the men finally traversed the wide outcropping of his carefully rooted feet, Samson spun from the entrance and breathed in that nutty, slightly burnt smell of coffee on constant brew.
There were plenty of empty tables in an uneven array, but he headed to the corner of the counter. His seat, for he frequented the cafe, framed the edge of the front window’s wide street facing view. The near summer yellow that sometimes shines on unexpected fall mornings ruled over the front half of the café.
She’ll have woken up already and hopefully found the breakfast chosen for her laid out on the counter. It’s not enough, Samson thought. The guilt of hiding in his room weighed on his usually upstanding shoulders. As he approached the counter, Muhammad, the cafe’s proprietor, looked up at the large young man, a smile of familiarity curved up his cheeks.
“Hello, my young friend! How are you today?” Muhammad called to Samson across the bakery laden counter. Platters of sweets and soft breads overflowed the bounds of the glass-topped containers and cake platters. The morning’s baking had gone well, it seemed.
“Hello, Muhammad. I’m doing…well. How about yourself?” Samson, haltingly inquired.
He had thought before he arrived, that he would mention his arranged marriage with jocularity. I am indeed in Allah’s good graces this morning, Samson rehearsed in his head, with good humor. Blessed with challenges, graced by the esteem of Allah, he would joke.
“Would you like a coffee, Samson?” Muhammad asked. “Perhaps it will perk you up a little bit.”
“I would like that.” Samson replied, handing over a few cents for the chipped white mug Muhammad slid towards him.
“On the house, today” Muhammad shook his hand back and forth at the change sitting on the counter. “You look like you need the warmth, young man.”
“Thank you, sir.” Samson managed to breath. He reached out his arm to the change and gathered in the cupped hand waiting to grasp the coins at the counter’s edge. “I’ll use this for my second cup.” He smiled at Muhammad, finally reaching the man’s eyes with his own for the first time that morning. He did feel a little out of sync, he realized.
“That kind of morning, eh?” Muhammad inquired with a smirk. “The life of a student is quite a trial.”
“Yes, sir. Miles of work to finish.” Samson agreed. He smiled again, thankful to Muhammad for the excuse.
“I’ll not keep you from your efforts any longer then.” Muhammad smiled warmly up at the bright young man in front of him and turned away, his dishrag palmed in his hands to dust off the shelves and leave the boy to study in peace. It was soothing to know young men were still getting an education for themselves. Change won’t be made by men like me, holed up in their own small business. Not when it could be gone by next week, swallowed by the growing migration from the city. Muhammad looked over his shoulder at Samson sitting in the window, and smiled.
Samson, oblivious to the hopeful musings of the old man, tried to think of the passages he read last night. He tried to focus. To think back on the very last sentence that had passed through his mind as he drifted to sleep proved difficult. Each word had dragged out as his eye lids slide further down the page, confusing “diplomatic engagement” with “militaristic encroachment”. That wouldn’t do. In fact, he could barely remember if that last sentence marked the end of his reading assignment or just a page.
Instead of the words from his book the hand-written note to Delilah kept circling round his eyes. Those words remained clear. The note seemed welcoming enough when he wrote it that morning, but reading it over again in his mind the note appeared cold and unfeeling. It sounded more and more like a veiled attempt, an invitation to touch nothing except the things specifically set out, rather than the extension of hospitality.
What an insensitive ass I am, Samson thought. A note leaving her breakfast instructions. Really?
Samson stared out at the street, the café owner Muhammad assuming from his corner of the eyes view, that he was deep in social/political thought. Instead, Samson merely sat contemplating his completely inadequate understanding of the situation he and Delilah had entered into. They were married now. No going back for either of them, now that they were sealed together by God and country; the biggest open jail imaginable.
When his father came to him with the idea, the union seemed like an opportunity to Samson. He thought immediately that marriage would afford means to not only reach the other side, but become a part of it. Somehow, Samson had assumed that becoming a part of something would feel empowering. The inability to even welcome his new bride into his apartment put those illusion far and behind. He could barely communicate “hello” to this woman, let alone his political aspirations.
And what were those aspirations exactly, Samson asked himself. it was the first time that morning that he had actually thought on his real purposes.