“Sir, may I take your order,” said the pretty face from the opposite side of the counter.
I looked into her almond-shaped, turquoise eyes with my stare of confusion and replied, “I think I need a strong cup of coffee.” I focused my eyes onto her name tag as she slid a cup of steaming coffee in front of me.
“I’ll check back later,” said the smiling waitress with ‘Ashley’ imprinted on her name badge.
I had a mild, pulsating headache above my right eye, and what I could fathom from my surroundings felt like a lucid dream. I required both hands to steady the cup of coffee up to my lips. Whatever happened to me on the other side of the bridge brought me here, to this cafe that looks so familiar, yet differs in minutest detail from Ashley’s Cafe that I had frequented mid-point to the coast. Indeed, this establishment beckons what I recall as Ashley’s Cafe, but everything appears a bit out of phase, ever so slightly, like the eyes of Ashley Crossman.
“Are you in town on business or just passing through,” inquired Ashley, topping off my coffee with precision.
“I’m not sure, actually,” I said, shrugging my shoulders in capitulation to my numbed cognitive state. I tried to summon the voices in my head, but they fell silent.
Ashley sat the coffee carafe on the countertop, gesturing to someone waiting at the door to take the vacant seat to my left. I glanced over my left shoulder to see an Asian woman walking towards me. Her gait and poise reminded me of the way a model walks down the runway, but her physique revealed her combat readiness. Perhaps an Onna-bugeisha, I had thought, a Japanese female warrior belonging to the Samurai class.
“What’s your pleasure today,” asked Ashley, as the Samurai warrior dressed in a black jumpsuit guided herself onto the swivel chair next to me.
“I’ll have what he’s having.”
“In that case,” said Ashley, “You’ll both need proper introductions.”
Ashley beamed a ready smile at me. “I’m Kenji Maegishi,” I said, offering my name and presenting a head bow to the Onna-bugeisha.
“Kenji Maegishi, allow me to introduce Augi Takahashi. Augi-san, please meet Kenji Maegishi,” said Ashley, formalizing the introductions.
I yielded to my situation, that I hadn’t dreamt up this set of circumstances, and that where I had come from, I’m not there anymore. I’m in Augustus Oregon, I had resolved, but where and when?