Put the incense on and a lil babe rainbow tune preparing for the weekend boogie and to write the story of Anthony and Olaf …

Two men on a latter end of middle age, sitting down in a vegan restaurant to discuss space algorithms and the mental demise of Olaf. Anthony consults his phone while Olaf nervously speculates about the effect of his new regimented diet. Slides a piece of broccoli through his accentuated gapped teeth. The waiter brings them two flat whites, Anthony is the only one to collect his voice in time to mutter thank you before he slips back into the kitchen unscathed. For perspective, they speak like this:

“Oh brother, how has your time abroad been?”

“Very instructive, thank you for asking brother. I have found it fascinating to observe native cultures pitted against an invading demographic, as i’m sure you would have found in your own travels to Victoria this past year.”

“Oh yes, I did witness something quite similar, although the difference was only in demographic culture.”

“Yes, yes. Well something of the sort was what I experienced in my travels abroad. Demographic cultural difference.”

“Very good brother; and what image did this strike in your mind?”

And their conversation goes on in this manner until Olaf has presumably had enough of the stuffiness of their conversation and escapes to the bathroom. There, he has a quick nervous breakdown and tries to mentally prepare himself for at least another half hour of this torturous interlude.

Oh, I took a break i’m out of the swing of it now …

And back at the corner table of the shady restaurant, Anthony is asking the girl on the couch next to them if she is enjoying her book. It’s Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac. The girl uncomfortably says that yes, she is, he is her favourite author but it’s taking a bit to get into the mental groove of the book. Anthony says that he has never read anything by him but that his brother, Olaf, has read that book a long time ago. The conversation has finished. Olaf returns.

Olaf shows his brother a file folder he has brought along to their lunch-time rendezvous; it contains multiple medical entries. Anthony talks about the statistical data presented and the possibility of their mother’s demise based on the results provided. They agree that the chances are not good because the rate of stability has been steadily decreasing. Olaf excuses himself for a glass of water.

Anthony, once again, engages conversation with the couch-potato girl, asking if she is a traveller. A Canadian, but not exactly a traveller anymore, got stuck in Perth. “Financially stuck?” “No, just stuck in love with it here.” Oh right … the actual conversation was much less fluid. The couch girl’s voice is stilted with anxiety and a voice only audible to the mice under the floor boards.

Olaf returns hesitantly, he doesn’t want to engage with strangers, he doesn’t even want to engage with his own brother. He’s got half a flat white left in his china cup and wants to finish it in peace and talk about his mental depression relapse of the previous night.

“This is my dear brother Olaf, and my name is Anthony. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Olaf sputters something like, “Do you like that book? I once read it long ago. I admire it very much.”

Couch girl says, “Yes, I love it.”

Olaf and Anthony return to their conversation. Olaf tries, but fails, to reveal his mental torment. He is dissuaded from Anthony’s eyes being fixed to the lit screen of his cell. They instead talk about the relatable humour of Frasier and disagree about what channel plays it at night … ten or eleven? Who can tell?

The last drop of coffee is sucked down – Olaf is relieved. Goodbye couch stranger, enjoy your book. Anthony leads the way out, Olaf drags his feet behind, dreading the time until he can sink into his couch back home, flick on the tv to what he is sure is channel nine and laugh along to the one-liners of Frasier, not thinking about spatial algorithms or his mother dying in a hospital bed.

“Pleasure, dearest brother.”


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