I sat, nervously sipping my coffee, wondering where Alexandra was. It was 08:45 and she should have arrived at least fifteen minutes ago.
I was on edge for two reasons: firstly, I was worried that a woman who was never late should be so, now; secondly, an honest description of that part of our mental and emotional make-up that was the enneatype eight was difficult territory, and its explication had come close to costing me several friendships in the past! I had been tense entering the cafe, over half an hour prior – now I was positively anxious!
08:50, and my unease was being compounded by the vivid conversation from the woman sitting behind me, whose perfume happened to be maddeningly attractive. I dared not turn around but I couldn’t help tuning in to the animated conversation with someone I took to be her partner on the other end of the mobile phone call.
“Well, I bet you would! The last time you proved how right you were, you sneered for a week,” she was saying.
Ouch! I couldn’t switch off the conversation in my ear. It was too intense, as though it contained a volcano of passion, frustration and anger; all fuelled by a reservoir of desire. It was an overpowering cocktail and I was glad to be sitting facing away from her. There was something about that sultry voice that had echoes of my own childhood. Perhaps it triggered an ancient memory of a domineering relative?
Get out of it – that’s someone else’s life – my conscience screamed. Leave them their privacy! But the controlling voice behind me had enormous power.
“Well, I like Gary,” she was saying, in a low and sexy voice. “He turns me on . . .” I could hear the calculation in her phrasing, keeping whoever it was on the hook. “… In his own sweet way; so I’ve no intention of reducing my list of friends, thank you.” She paused to drink her own coffee for a moment. “Oh you did, did you – well how wrong could you be?”
I winced at this. What had the poor soul on the other end dared to say? That he thought they were an item? The crushing power of her response was surely disproportionate to her partner’s plea. I wondered if I was inadvertently witnessing a long-coming explosion that had been suppressed for some time. From a few feet away, it sounded like a act of vengeance.
I sipped some of my coffee to take my mind off the perfumed assault on my senses from the rear; but the voice had begun to modify, becoming more silky, quite deadly in its sensuality, the soft and curling tones seeming to echo in the depths of my coffee mug.
“Well, I might, if you’re nice to me,” she chortled to the anonymous victim. “And I’ve never complained about your lack of imagination,” she laughed out loud as her victim said something. “Don’t want much, do you? But you’ll have to wait, as I won’t be back until next weekend.”
“For heaven’s sake,” I muttered in a whisper, hunched forward into the dregs of my coffee; hoping my voice was beneath her hearing range. “Give me a break . . “
“What makes you think I’m doing this out of revenge?” the honeyed voice continued.
I put my hands over the back of my head, covering my ears with the heels of my palms. Stop it.
There was the sound of a chair scraping behind me. Then, a long leg brushed past my thigh, and a leather handbag bumped across my right shoulder, helping to ease its owner through the narrow space between the tables. There was a thumping sound as a book escaped from the bag and crashed onto my table, spinning my – thankfully nearly empty – coffee cup into a tumbling sideways motion. In panic, I reached out and tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the mug from falling. I heard her mobile phone click shut.
“Sorry,” said the honey voice, “Keep the change . . .”
This was all happening in a whirl. Keep the change? Why . . .?
And then I looked up, and saw the perfumed woman in the flowing summer dress, the expensive headscarf and the large sunglasses, grinning at me through the cafe windows; just before she disappeared across the road and into the promenade car park.
Gone forever . . .But there had been something in the look. Something for me, though, heaven knows I was better off far away from that chemistry . . . though I had to admire her sheer power of presence . . .
In a state of total confusion. I looked down at the book that had been dropped on my wreck of a table-top. Like the small-scale tide of coffee that had spread across the few inches either side of my upended mug, the realisation of what had just happened was seeping into my awareness.
The book was entitled “The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues” by Sandra Maitri. It was one of the very best text books on the subject and had been a well-loved friend for many years, as my own knowledge had been tested and had grown. There was a bookmark in one of the pages. I let the volume slide open at the selected chapter, grinning like an idiot in confirmation of my suspicions as the section on the Enneatype 8 came into view.
The devious, clever, manipulative . . . but what a perfect way to show her understanding!
I began to chuckle at myself. My concern for Alexandra’s wellbeing fell away, replaced by a new certainty. The spilled coffee, the dropped book, the overload of events; had all conspired to rob me of objectivity, as the mystery woman, in headscarf and Dolce Vita sunglasses, had disappeared across the street, swallowed up by the traffic.
Only now did it all fall into place.
The new mug of coffee being put down by Rose on the freshly tutted and wiped tabletop was a surprise, as was the bill for three lattés . . .
“She said you’d understand,” chortled Rose, in her ‘seen it all before,’ voice. “Said you had it coming!”
She retreated to the counter, laughing. I wondered how far away the lady in the Summer dress – Alexandra – was now? She had not been late at all. She had, in fact, arrived somewhat earlier than me, and taken the seat behind where we normally spent our Monday get-togethers. Perfectly, wickedly disguised, but thankfully, not as intent on true revenge as a Type 8 could be . . .
Now, she was on a speeding train, headed for her weekday office, in London.
Marks out of ten, teacher? said the superbly acted vamp in my head; sitting back in her train seat, and taking out her legal notes . . .
(to be continued)
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.
Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2012, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to . . .