I thought he was on the phone but, as I bent down to plug my laptop into the socket at his feet, discovered that he was actually just muttering to himself. He sipped his coffee while drumming his fingers on the table and casting anxious glances around the coffee shop.
Realising now why this adjoining table had been empty, and hoping I’d still be able to get some work done, I half smiled a vacant greeting at my shabby old neighbour when he caught my eye.
He nevertheless took this standoffish politeness as an invitation to talk.
Looking intently at my laptop and then directly at me, he said with all sincerity ,“I don’t know what we’ll all do when they blow up all the satellites and those things stop working.”
I wanted to tell him that our laptops stopped working frequently anyway and that we’d love it if someone could see the value in buying us new ones. I wanted to tell him that sometimes I wouldn’t really mind if they did blow up all the satellites because sometimes the world just seems really rubbish as it is. I wanted tell him that I envied his freedom to say all the crazy things in his head.
Instead I replied, “I suppose we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
He raised his cup of coffee at me and nodded his head and we settled into a companionable silence, broken only by the sound of my fingers tapping away at my laptop and his intermittent conversation with himself. This seemed to suffice.