The next morning, I agreed to meet Tamara at a little cafe in downtown Fremont. It was an eclectic bistro named Fables that wasn't sure what it wanted to be. I entered off of Main Street. The place had mismatched chairs and tables. The walls were covered in makeshift art -- all for sale. Behind a long counter, dressers were stacked on top of each other. The drawers were labeled with names like coffee syrups, tongs, and straws. Frames devoid of pictures hung on the walls with beautiful thick ribbon. The menus were neatly written on the glass inside the frames.
As I approached the counter, I noticed a small price tag dangling from the corner of an old wood table. I gave the place six months. Fremont isn't a large enough community to support something so eccentric. The median income is less than forty thousand dollars per year. Whoever owned this place had money to burn. I ordered a Coke and found a seat at a round wood table, in a corner facing the front door, and with line of sight to a rear exit. A bright orange tag - the kind you see at garage sales -- told me that the table I'd chosen was for sale, too. Yep, six months, tops.
By 9 o'clock, a handful of customers had trickled in and out of the place. The young woman behind the counter busied herself cleaning and re-cleaning the counters, tables, and espresso machine. I'd arrived early, but Tamara was late. I pulled my phone from my satchel. No messages. Bells attached to the door jingled. I looked up. A man in his early twenties, dressed in Khaki pants, a dark green polo shirt, a light gray jacket, and Vans walked past my table to the counter. The woman dropped a scoop she'd been cleaning. Her face flushed. I returned my attention to my phone, but eavesdropping is a job requirement.
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