It had been another long day. Stuck in traffic, looking around out of boredom, John was surprised to see a café down the road. He passed through the same way everyday, and yet, he didn’t remember it being there at all. He shrugged, thinking it must have been there all along, and that he had driven down without noticing it. But somehow, his curiosity was piqued and he decided to make a stop to take a small peep.
Slowing down near the café, he parked his car and stepped out. The Chimera said the board hanging outside. It was a fairly recent one. Not old, not new. He walked in to find a pleasant medium-sized café. It was one of those cozy kinds; with just enough lighting and warmth to make you feel comfortable. The decor gave a feeling of the 70s. John assumed that it must be one of those retro cafe. There were not too many people.. an old couple sipping on hot coffee and a lone stranger sitting in the corner lost in his own thought were the only other guests.
John then went and sat in one of the corner tables. “Hello there, young fella!” said an old man whose name tag read Tom. John looked up at his face and liked what he saw instantly. The man had a huge grin going right up to his twinkling eyes. “Now, what would you like to have?” then he listed out the menu. It was not a big one. It consisted of 3 types of tea and 2 types of coffee; along with few sandwiches and cup cakes. John only ordered a cup of coffee and before he could stop himself, he asked Tom “ So, how long since the café opened?” to which Tom mischievously laughed and said that it had been there forever and walked off shaking his head leaving John puzzled.
Left along once again, John was lost in thoughts. He liked the café and made a note to drop in whenever he could. Maybe, he would bring Jenny too. Something about the café calmed him. It was actually nice taking it all in. Tom, who got him his cup of Coffee, interrupted his thoughts. Not surprisingly, the coffee turned out to be great. Not realizing how long he had sat there, John suddenly jumped up, paid his bill and ran out. Now, he barely had time to make it for the movie.
While backing out his car, he saw Tom smiling at him from the window of the café. Waving at him, John raced off towards the mall to catch the show.
The next day, on his way to work, he couldn’t stop gushing about how much he liked The Chimera to Max, his colleague and even made a slight detour to show him the place. “There is no café here, John” commented Max. John looked outside and Lo! Max was right. To his amazement, there weren’t any signs of The Chimera anymore. He couldn’t believe what he saw. In it’s place, was a hardware store and it looked nothing like the café!
Puzzled, John walked in to find a young man at the counter. “Hello there” John said sounding confused. “Could you please tell me what happened to The Chimera that was here? I only came in yesterday, and had coffee”. On hearing this, the boy started laughing and said that there was no café there; for the shop had been there for the last decade or so. This baffled poor John even more. He then asked the boy whether he had heard of Tom. The boy was even more amused and told John that there was nobody in the area by that name; maybe it was somewhere else that John had gone to. A slightly annoyed Max didn’t help matters either. “Lets just go, John” he said dragging John out paying no heed to his protests.
In a daze, John and his colleague left the store and walked back to his car. All through the way, John couldn’t, for the life of him understand what had happened. In his hurry the previous day, he had not even bothered to collect the bill for the coffee that he had. Now he felt like kicking himself for having any solid proof of being there. Or had he been there at all? All these thoughts almost drove John crazy.
Not knowing what had transpired, for months, John couldn’t explain the strange incident and he finally stopped talking about it; for the story only brought him ridicule whenever he brought it up. Till date he has no idea what the place was. He knew for sure he had been there. And yet, nobody other than him knew about the place called The Chimera.