The Tea Room smelled of coffee when the early morning light shone through the glass door and freshly baked bread in the afternoon. Ray looked after the food and Lisa the numbers. And the boy watched, idolising a mother who could run a business and a father who lived for poetry and creating tasty things.
Lisa lived less amusing days of budgets, inventories, health and safety codes, work schedules, advertising, merchandising, promoting… while Ray spiced and flavoured his own sausages, made pasta sauce with tomatoes from his garden, and had two stews cooking each day, one with meat, one with mixed vegetables.
But people mostly went for the old fashioned tea ceremony, with buttermilk scones for adding clotted cream, a digestive for dunking, or a madeleine for the memories.
They grew eccentric. Ray loved the idea of the poet, but more so, the failed poet. He found something so noble in failure and poverty, a coat with spots. ‘Is that why you try and make us poor!’ cried the infuriated Lisa. He would give out cake for a good story and she would she throw it away. An eternal dance. And they loved it, laughing behind their expressions of disbelief and horror.
‘You’d take a sonnet and use it to wrap a cheesecake!’
‘That’s all it’s good for if it’s by one of your scribblers!’
Then came a time when the boy was no longer around. They wondered where he was. Probably making his own way and chasing the girl with the large lips. And there were no customers except for the poets, for whom Ray still made his famous cream puffs. Except for them there seemed to be no food to serve, or even a door to enter. Some Tea Room!
But Ray and Lisa were too busy to worry about such little things. Ray spent his time searching for the works of the failed poets and Lisa spent her time hiding them. So he’d make more cream puffs and she tried to balance the books.
‘Life without art is just a soup with no flavour!’
‘Well you’d know all about that!’
He called her an artless beast!
She called him a ridiculous sop!
It was strange that there was no door, that the poets just appeared and disappeared, and all there was to drink was tea. But there was a simplicity about Ray and Lisa. Why question things? They got on despite their differences. Hand in hand in the doorless Tea Room they knew the treasure was theirs. Their eternal dance went on.
continued from The Tea Room (Part 1)
continued with The Tea Room (Part 3)
published 12 March 2012