Interrogating Maddi

Madrigar was difficult to indulge, but Musi tried every morning. If she offered him a thick slice from a still-warm loaf of Courthouse Rye he would only accept the crusty heel—”Unbuttered, please”. If, during the heat of the day, she walked over an insulated mug full of green apple flavored ice the mug would later be returned—cleaned—by one of his customers instead with great thanks for the wonderful refreshment. [One more example here]. [at first she thought he was being polite since he didnt have much money. But as the attempts wore on she treated it more like a game (also she became suspicious of his appearant lack of wealth)]

[when she first set up her stall she’d thought-arrogantly- that her business would boost Madrigar’s but over the months as she watched the flow of traffic she realized he sent her more patrons than she ever sent his way.]


Finally, late one morning Musi leaned on the ironwork fence which defined the limits of her café and happened to border with Madrigar’s chappi stall. The second day of the week often ended early, so no one sat at her tables or leaned at her bar. Madrigar was tearing down his stall.

“Maddi,” she called out to his back. “Maddi, come join me for some Drangee Purple when you’re done. I have some things I’d like to talk about if you have time.”

“A moment only,” he said without turning. He held aloft a finger as if to illustrate his quiet comment. Musi wondered if he meant ‘In a moment’ or ‘For a moment’ or both, but she prepared his favorite tea as if he intended the former. She poured it into in an Old Fashioned glass just as he sat down at her worst table. She sighed.

“We could sit up front if you like. Where we can watch Diptuu set up his belts.” She pointed to one of her most requested tables.

“Someone may come.”

Musi laughed. “Not till after lunch they aren’t. I may not have been here for twenty years, but I know enough to know that.”

“Still,” he said. Musi recognized this single word as his final comment on many discussions they’d had over the spring and summer. Followed with nothing more than silence, it invariably brought their discussion to a conclusion with Madrigar getting his way.

She set down a linen napkin triangle with the point shortly draped over the edge of the metal patio table. Next, she placed a

416 words on day 908