The City Chameleon

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The City Chameleon – Mr. Nobody from Nowhere.

He orders a black coffee, no sugar, and a fresh croissant with a taste of butter and jam on the side, simplicity in itself but to our protagonist of the story there was something more to it, something that made him feel rich and grand and worthy of a kings crown. Mr. Nobody had not chosen a favourite café to dine at for he visited them all choosing one at random as he put on his thick brown coat and headed for the front door every morning.

 His walk would begin from the small third floor apartment in the suburbs of nowhere but there was no telling how long he would walk for or where he would end up that day. Sometimes he wouldn’t come home at all. Mr. Nobody has, on a great number of occasions, found himself having walked so far from home and long into the day that it was not possible to return home until he had a goodnights sleep. This would result in the spontaneous checking into a small bed and breakfast far out from his suburban third floor apartment.

On these long and gruelling walks he breathed in the artificial choking air and was subject to the sometimes exciting, sometimes monotonous buzz of the city life. The bustling of shoppers and city workers and schoolchildren inattentively bumped and excused themselves past him, the worn brown of his once exuberant fresh overcoat, unnoticed by their weary eyes as he continued on his way, like a chameleon of the city.

 Along the way he would he would sometimes see the most peculiar of people, the ostentatious colours of hair or the overly elaborate of clothing he sometimes encounter silently baffled him. In a sense, it made him feel like was trapped in a world much older than the present. Then there were the mothers, sometimes fathers, leading their blissfully ignorant children through the cramped streets of dirty pavements.

If it was none of those, it was the homeless and the beggars sitting at street corners, some with small cups to hold donations, some taking the more elaborate step of making signs to save them from hoarse throats. Almost to his surprise, these were the people who appeared to blend in the most, much like himself, with the general population from London and stretching across over most of England. It would appear to him, Mr. Nobody, that the conglomerate of civilians who seemingly wondered on through life minding their own business were, in actual fact, contributing to some unknown phenomenon that is yet to occur.    

 His order was one thing that simply had not changed for the last thirty years in hundreds cafés both local and not so close to home, and wouldn’t change over the course of the next remaining years that bring him into a café every day.

If the new day would spawn the visit to a new establishment he would complete his order and take the nearest available seat. Once settled, he would calmly and carefully set his eyes to roam the sometimes quiet, sometimes bustling surroundings. His brain soaked up every tiny detail like a dry sponge dropped into a pool of water. Over the 30 year routine he had seen just about everything there was too see at a café. 

Mr. Nobody watched as waitresses confused orders or drop dishes with a smashing ring echoing throughout the café. He watched, on more than one occasion, as a stranger endured a life threatening heart attack or stroke, desperately clutching their chests, if they had the strength for it, with panicked breath waiting for paramedics to arrive. Then there were the robberies and unexpected child births, the taking and giving of life almost in strange case of Mother Nature’s circle of life, as he saw it anyhow.

 There were even the occasional engagements and breakups, oddly enough both kinds resulting in the flowing of tears. Writers, journalists, students sat at lone tables tap, tap tapping away and businessmen with a cup of coffee in one hand and a mobile phone in the other (or a headpiece in the ear, with technology advancing at a much quicker pace than his age). Customers trying that one thing new in their lives, some satisfied, some disappointed. Friends gathered together after work or after school swapping stories and recounting the tales of their day, gossiping over boys and work colleagues and rumours which, to our Mr. Nobody, had no real claim to value or authenticity. All of which is but a small portion of experiences, the tip of the ice berg.

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