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Men are a people of hunger, always in search of something to fill them. But of all the things that they can pour into the pits that dwell in them, nothing is as filling as purpose. All hungers are satisfied with purpose, all thirsts slaked. Maou’s jobs were just jobs though, and so he went straight to the Cafe. He needed a meal. The Cafe was almost fully deserted. On such a quiet evening, the Professor sat behind the bar drawing with a pencil. On the counter stood a tiny sculpture of a dancer, delicately crafted in a pose expressing a boldness that belied its size, serving as his model. The little dancer was carefully aligned to a toothpick the was held perfectly straight up by being stuck in an even smaller notch in the bartop. From time to time, the Professor would rotate the dancer, and dash some lines on the margins or in the corners of the sheet of paper on his pad as he tried to grasp the form of the dancer. Satisfied with his understanding, he’d rotate the dancer back to its position. Sometimes, he’d spend more time making sure that it was exactly lined up than he did with the exploratory sketch. Maou dusted himself off, and politely walked towards an unimportant part of the Cafe as loudly as he could without being obnoxious. The Professor deserved the courtesy of deciding when to notice Maou, even though Maou knew it would come more promptly than any maitre’d in Downtown. The Professor turned towards Maou in a quick fashion that indicated a complete absence of surprise. “Slow day, Professor?”, Maou asked. “It has gone by quicker than most.” Maou seated himself at an unimportant table that his feet chose for him, and lifted a menu. The Professor came around the bar, and Maou had no idea where the Professor had vanished the dancer, the drawing pad, and the toothpick to in the time between looking down at the menu and looking up at the Professor. Likely the same mysterious place where the Professor keeps anything he’s asked to keep by a customer, which he could somehow always produce from a pocket of his spotless, smooth black apron. “I acquired some good cuts from Lobster at an odd price; they would not be good for long. If you need something more substantial tonight, I recommend them while we have them,” the Professor smiled faintly as he informed Maou of this ‘good fortune’. “Did you? That is fortunate, but tonight I would like to start with something from the shelf”, Maou smiled back. “Excellent”, the Professor said. “I hope I can always be so fortunate,” Maou said, to which the Professor merely gave his quiet smile as he headed back to the counter. Behind the counter, the Professor climbed up to reach one of the bottles of good English beer that he didn’t keep refrigerated. He poured it carefully into a tall pint glass on top of the bar, and served it to Maou. “Professor, could you get me a diane.” the steak diane was one of the pricier things on the menu, but with his advance from the job, he needed to give the Cafe its due. The cafe was not a charity, but there was nothing that said that long-time customers couldn’t be the recipients of the cafe’s good good fortune, even if that good fortune could often be unusually selective and timely. Cafe patrons know that they are lucky to be lucky, and good luck is always deserving of graciousness. Maou stared at the foam-topped, solid gold column in front of him, a treasure that would be spent in moments. For all that good bottling could do, it was a treasure that nobody could take with them once opened. “Professor, have time for a toast?” “I am still on duty. I can only take water, but…” “No matter. Wealth is not in gold, anyway.” “Indeed. To who, then?” “To those we never had the fortune of drinking with.” Their glasses clinked, and they drank.
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