Pancakes in London

This is a short story. The title was inspired by conversations with a good friend, the story is quite independent though. I hope you enjoy reading it, thanks.

Pancakes in London, no milk or flour

How pretentious He thought to himself as he stepped into the building.
It was a large building, very large. It was one of those finance buildings with a high, glass facade. There was soft jazz music coming from the speakers on the ceiling, comfortable looking arm chairs and a fancy coffee table, decorated with glossy lifestyle magazines and finance journals, created a waiting area. It was awfully clean.
Either nobody ever comes in here or they clean up after every visitor he thought further as he stepped towards the reception.
Behind the reception desk sat two people. One, a pretty woman, had her shiny hair tied back neatly so everyone could see her clear skin on her youthful face. The only things that gave her age away were her hands. She smiled at him in expectation.
“Hello.” He murmured. She acted like she hadn’t heard him, so he spoke up. “Hello!”
She reacted. “Welcome, what can I do for you, sir?”
“I’m looking for Mr. Niles.” He explained. “Do you have an appointment, sir?”
He shook his head. “But he’s expecting me.”
“Well, what’s your name? I’ll call upstairs and see if his agenda is free.”
She looked confused.
“And a surname, sir?”
She smiled. “Oh, is he your brother?”
Silently she dialled a number and smiled, as she set the speaker to her ear, soon after he was sent up the elevator onto the twelfth floor.
The music played on as he waited for the elevator to reach his destination, but it was no longer a soft Jazz music selection. It reminded him more of a modern form of Charleston music.
How confusing, he thought and pretentious.
As he stepped out of the elevator there was no music playing at all. These irregularities disturbed him. The carpeted ground was never the same on every floor either and the pictures on the walls reached from the late avant-garde twenties to a cat painting in the style of Rosina Wachtmeister.
He walked up the hall and into his brothers office and knocked four times.
“Hello John.” A man in a suit said and smiled mildly. “I didn’t know you were coming today.”
John sat down. “But I happen to have time right now, shall we?”
John nodded and stood up again, though the thought how random it was to sit down just to get up again irritated him in his fingertips.
The streets were very dirty. There were empty crisp packets and cigarette stomps in the middle of the road, a dog had taken a dump on the pavement and somebody had dropped a glove and a sock. Also the road was covered in flattened chewing gum. London’s spit was on these streets.
The filth of these streets built such a beautiful contrast to the interior of the building his brother worked in. John felt slight comfort in his observations.
They sat down in a corner café. They were inside, because the sun was too.
“What are you having?” his brother asked absently as he studied the menu.
He looked up at him. “You can’t eat pancakes, John.”
“I want pancakes. They make the best pancakes.”
“Have you ever been here before?”
John shrugged. He didn’t remember.
“I’m having pancakes.”
“Fine.” Said his brother and put down the menu. “We’re having pancakes.”
“You can’t have pancakes.” John protested.
“Neither can you. How destructive can a pancake be?”
John nodded. “Fine, but we’ll ask for it to be adapted.”
The waiter came along to take their orders. “Two coffees.” said the brother. “And pancakes, no milk or flour.”
The waiter looked startled. “Excuse me?”
“I’m gluten-intolerant.” John explained patiently and pointed at his brother. “He’s allergic to lactose. But we desire pancake. Can you make it possible?”
The poor waiter frowned. “I’ll ask in the kitchen.” He said and hurried off.
“So?” the brother asked. John shook his head. “We wait for the coffee.”
The coffee came and his brother repeated his question. “So?”
“I have cancer.”
There was a small silence and his brother’s face turned thoughtful. “Hm.”
He took a sip of coffee. It was too hot.
“Is it?”
He nodded. “How long?”
“A year, maybe more.” John replied and also took a sip of coffee. For him it was just right.
“Okay.” His brother said and stared into his coffee that turned slowly in its mug.
“Are you in a happy relationship?” John asked him.
“Does she comfort you?”
“You won’t cry?”
John nodded. “Good.”
Then they sat there in silence and sipped their coffee, constantly adding sugar to it. The coffee here was not very good.
It was a slight surprise when the pancakes arrived at their table almost half an hour later. They were gluten – and lactose free.
They sat there and ate. The pancakes were disgusting. But they made them last.


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