Experimental Short Fiction by Nick Trench


A man who has just enough money to spend time in cafés. He also needs time to ‘come across’ them accidentally.

No café becomes too much taken for granted. He understands the difference between ‘habitual’ and ‘routine’. He does not want to become ‘part of the furniture’ (an intellectual, for instance, who is expected to live up to certain standards and might be a prize customer, albeit one amongst other valued customers). He is happy to pass the time of day with the waiter or the owner, but he wants to be treated as someone who is ordinary but civilised.  The time between cafés, ideally, is part of being in the café.

The man is in a café at the moment. That is why he is thinking these things. It is an Italian café. It is a beautiful mid-spring late afternoon.

The cafés are ‘idylls’, they are discoveries that he makes for himself.  These cafés are not famous or well-known – that is important. He has the need to jump between these idylls. Preferably the café has a terrace, but he will be inside and by the window if possible. This is the seat he occupies now, in the early evening, in an Italian restaurant which is located within a fork in the road, so that he can look across the restaurant through windows on to another road. The sun streams in through the windows opposite but does not quite reach him. He does not mind. He is warm enough and it is comfortable.

This afternoon, on a terrace of a café on the other side of the same town, he was approached by a beggar (a quite well-dressed young woman). She pointed at her mouth. When he does not feel threatened and when he is able to do so, he will give money.

He is not ‘Café Man’ despite the title of this story, which is, in any case, a provisional title.

These are not expensive cafés. He does not think of his practice as ‘café hopping’, or it being a ‘café walk’. Rather, it is ‘café lurching’, but not in a drunken sense. There may sometimes be an hour or so between lurching from one café to another, other times many months. He does not seek out these cafés, but it is the greatest relief of all when he reaches such an idyll (these are necessary idylls) – a greater relief than being behind closed doors at home or in his hotel.

The lurching (at its best) is balletic, even that lurching which might take many months. It is not dissimilar to the childhood game of jumping between the cracks in the pavement. It can only be achieved with a great consciousness of effort and presence of mind. (But ideally, he should be leaping synchronously with the beggars as if moving across the stage in a film musical.)

None of the action takes place in the cafés. All of the story concerns the time in between (there is no description of any of the cafés). Or the story concerns the time in the cafes (there is no description of the spaces in between).

nick-trench-picture-profile-2-2Nick Trench is a writer and artist living in Hampshire. His artwork, including paintings and photographs, has been exhibited in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Lithuania. He is currently working on a novel.
December 17, 2018

Idea for a Story: Café Man by Nick Trench

Experimental Short Fiction by Nick Trench
December 14, 2018

Kiss by Elizabeth Baines

Short Fiction by Elizabeth Baines
December 10, 2018

An Ambulance by Ric Carter

Short Fiction by Ric Carter
December 3, 2018

Sister Sarya at The End of The World by Gerard McKeown

Short Fiction by Gerard McKeown
November 30, 2018

Gog, Magog, Gogam, Gog by James Machin

Short Fiction by James Machin
November 26, 2018

The Heights of Sleep by Sam Thompson

Short Fiction by Sam Thompson
November 19, 2018

Road Liable to Flooding by Andrew Oldham

Short Fiction by Andrew Oldham
November 14, 2018

Rebecca Rouillard on winning Mslexia’s Novel Competition

Katie Baldock spoke to Rebecca Rouillard about writing after winning Mslexia’s 2017 Novel Competition.
November 12, 2018

Foaming Grasses by Nick Owen

Short Fiction by Nick Owen
November 5, 2018

Pathogen by Graeme K Talboys

Short Fiction by  Graeme K Talboys
October 29, 2018

Quantum of Love by Gilli Fryzer

Short Fiction by  Gilli Fryzer
October 22, 2018

The Trial of Shelton Mathis by Wes Brown

Short Fiction by  Wes Brown
October 15, 2018

Reconciliation by Ben O’Hara

Short Fiction by Ben O’Hara
October 12, 2018

The Lobster Boat by Tamar Hodes

Short fiction by Tamar Hodes
October 8, 2018

When the Universe Listens by Alison Theresa Gibson

Short Fiction by Alison Theresa Gibson
October 5, 2018

The Last Lunch by Jude Cook

Short Fiction by Jude Cook
October 1, 2018

Dream Clips of the Archons by Paul Green

Opening sequences from an evolving narrative by  Paul Green
September 28, 2018

Patient X and Patient Y by John O’Donoghue

A Case Study by  John O’Donoghue
September 24, 2018

The Head of the End of the World by Melaina Barnes

Short Fiction by Melaina Barnes. The Head of the End of the World was shortlisted for MIR15.
September 21, 2018

The Murder of Andreas Baader by Steve Finbow

Short Fiction by Steve Finbow