Everybody came to Michelle's place...the Sad Cafe...at one time or another (or at least so the legend goes.) It was just something you did when you came to the west side of town.
Something you never talked about...something you never even thought about until the clouds grew gray and foreboding. It was just something you did when life deposited you on the west side of town and you needed to feel alone in a crowd.
Yeah, everybody came to Michelle's place...the loft above the Sad Cafe...at one time or another (or at least so the story goes.) It was just something you did when you came to the Sad Cafe. (Michelle, the story says, was always home...cocooned in a claustrophobic tangle of books and long-playing records and souvenirs of memories false and true. Her best friend Christine tended bar in the Cafe...her ex-boyfriend Nick cooked the food.)
She said never said anything to anyone...but they came nevertheless. Michelle would nod sagely and immediately return to her reading and they, somehow fulfilled, would drift back downstairs and have another drink or let tepid rivers of grease and ketchup run down their shirt from one of Nick's forbidding hamburgers.
The melancholy voices of languid trumpets and saxophones... Miles, Coltrane...lingered, always, softly... blue shrouds in every corner of every room of the Sad Cafe and the loft above it as Michelle, her counsel always jealously clutched to her bosom, waited patiently for the end of time.
One particularly stormy night...a grey day in late February to be a bit more precise...nobody at all came to Michelle's place...neither the Sad Cafe nor the loft above it...the rain pounded insistent rhythms underneath the languid saxophones and no one at all (not even Christine or Nick) came to the Sad Cafe.
And Michelle (who was, of course, home) understood that the end of time had, at very long last, finally arrived.
She was not unhappy about that fact.
She put on her best summer dress (the willowy pale yellow one with the white trim) and put John Coltrane..."A Love Supreme"...on the stereo. She sat on the edge of her bed and drank two fingers of the 25-year-old scotch that she had put away for the end of time...slowly, deliberately.
And then, without further ceremony, she placed a cold, black revolver in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
The thunder of the shot joined in awful voice with the thunder of God as the storm outside reached a brilliant, roaring crescendo...and there was, for one eternal instant, absolute stillness in the loft above the Sad Cafe.
(Michelle, the tale goes, slumped back onto her bed gracefully and died with her eyes open and willfully unblinking.)
From somewhere close by, someone (it might very well have been Nick) laughed bitterly and spat while John Coltrane chanted..."a love supreme...a love supreme..." as though he understood something about the end of time, too.
The Sad Cafe, time having moved on without Michelle, was boarded up forever two days later. Christine moved to the north side of town and became a Jehovah's Witness; Nick moved downtown and became someone you wouldn't want to know.
Michelle became an even more revered martyr to bad poets, jilted lovers, and any west side alcoholics who needed something...anything at all would do...to justify yet another toast.
(And Michelle's memory...especially as colorfully embellished by inebriated myth-makers...was as good a thing as any other.)
And now nobody comes to Michelle's place...the Sad Cafe...but its legacy lives on in the broken hearts and the weary spirits of all the sad souls who still longed to be there.
(Michelle, they imagined, sat in a lonely corner of Heaven listening to the rain...playing scratchy old records...waiting patiently for someone to come visit her in her sad, lonely place.)