First, this is a challenge put together by Ralfast! And it was good fun.
I walked down Huntington, past Symphony Hall. I took a left and continued down the street, passing a mess of restaurants before finding the one I was looking for. It was a discrete, small building identified only by the top hat/tea cup sign that hung over the door. “Hatter and Hare” it said. I recognized the name, one I had created for a project, but my characters had highjacked. I pushed the door open.
What greeted me was a small, pleasant tea room/cafe. It was elegant, tasteful. The Alice in Wonderland motif was understated, with a few small details scattered throughout. I spotted a few decks of cards, an Alice fireplace grate…I knew there were more.
I sat down at the counter, pen and paper in hand. I said a quick hello to the barista, a normal looking guy wearing a bow tie. My character, and the subject of today’s interview. He put a cappuccino in front of me, which I thanked him for greatly.
“Now, let’s get this over with,” said he with a cheeky grin.
“Right,” I said. “First, what’s your name?”
“Well, you came up with me, you should know. But for the sake of the interview. My name’s Daniel Bentham. I’m twenty-seven years old, own this tea shop, and I like long walks on the beach.”
“Do you really?”
“No. I hate the sand. But it just seemed like the right thing to say,” said Daniel. He laughed and poured brown sugar into his espresso. “Sugar?”
“Please,” I replied, and took the sugar from him. “So, Daniel, do you have any nicknames?”
“My sister calls me Danny or Danny-boy. I call her Charlie and she shuts up,” said Daniel. He raised the white espresso cup to his mouth, inhaling the coffee’s rich, warm scent. He exhaled, closing his eyes. I watched his strange ritual another time before he broke it, taking a sip. “Ah! That’s good coffee.”
“Coffee,” I repeated.
“Yeah. Coffee. It’s my passion. Well, one of them. I like tea a great deal, too. The ceremony that surrounds it. Speaking of ceremony, we had a Royal Wedding viewing party. Opened the shop up early, especially for the day. Served tea and scones with clotted cream and jam…but I’m getting off topic. You were conducting an interview, and I so rudely interrupted with my tangent. Please continue.”
“Do you mind describing yourself for the readers?” I asked, a little embarrassed.
“I thought you said this was a photographed interview!” said Daniel in mock horror. “I can’t do justice to myself! Words fail!”
I crossed my arms. “Try, please. I could write it myself, but I’m sure you would rather describe how you see yourself.”
Daniel cleared his throat. “I’m a handsome devil. I have blue eyes and brown hair and I’ve got plenty of freckles. Slightly taller than average, and a nice smile. No jewelery or tattoos. Happy?”
“Good enough. Hobbies?” I said.
“Coffee. And I like classic cars. And events like the Monaco Grand Prix. I want to go one day.”
“Thanks for giving me a straight answer.”
“You’re most welcome,” replied Daniel. He looked at my cappuccino cup and asked if I had finished. I hadn’t–the foam still remained. “Oh! I nearly forgot. Cooking. I love cooking. Especially eating what I cook.”
“Fantastic.” I wrote furiously. “So, can you tell me about your family?”
“Well…” said Daniel with a sigh. “I have a mother and a father who are alive and well and currently on vacation somewhere. My sister Charlotte and I manage this tea shop. Dunno where she is…probably out getting ingredients.”
“Where are you from?” I sipped at my cappuccino. It was really good–one of the best I’d had Stateside.
“Depends. I usually just say Boston. Most people don’t know the town I’m from, so I don’t bother saying it.” He shrugged. “Plus, it’s boring.”
“Good enough for me. Now, excuse my prying, but do you have any secrets?” I asked.
Daniel stepped back. “Yeah, ‘course.”
“Mind sharing one or two?” I smiled politely, and put the pen down. I didn’t want to betray his confidence.
He looked at me warily, uncertainty writ on his face. “Yeah. They’re secrets. They stay that way.” He crossed his arms and seemed to be hoping I would leave.
“Fine, didn’t mean to pry. Last one’s tough. What do you believe in?”
“Classic, Daniel. Really classic,” I replied.
“I thought you’d appreciate it. Now scram. I need to clean this place up before the lunch rush.”
Daniel’s story takes place in present day Boston, at a whimsical tea shop located near Symphony Hall.