Jessie watched Alison talking to Kyle. Alison had an amazing smile. It was all glittering white teeth; even her smart casual suit had teeth.
Really, who dresses like that to work at a homeless shelter? Not that it was obvious she was wearing a suit if you hadn’t seen the jacket she’d left in the van. For as long as they’d been in the building it had just looked like a nice grey blouse and dark skirt with a coordinated belt. Perhaps a slightly preppy outfit, but nothing over the top. Still, it was a suit, and that wasn’t the kind of thing a woman would wear to serve food to the needy That made Jessie suspicious.
Also now the song was stuck in her head.
Kyle finished talking about whatever he’d been discussing with Alison and then headed for the door. Jessie wondered where he was going, but she decided to just let him go without a fuss. It wasn’t like he was in danger, so if something important had just happened she could wait to find out what it was.
Then another person arrived in front of her and there was a brief rush of people who had obviously just barely made it before the lunch service ended. Jessie lost herself in that. The repetitive actions of serving food were enough to occupy her body, and she found it kind of fun to contemplate the people as they passed in front of her.
Honestly, they weren’t what she had expected. She had figured a bunch of people who needed free food would be… Well, something other than what they were. Grumpier perhaps, but mostly she supposed they’d be less individual and less influenced by the ordinary concerns of the rest of the population. It was, for example, a fairly nice late fall day outside and a lot of the people walking through the door looked as they were kind of enjoying that fact.
She hadn’t expected that. She hadn’t expected that there would be people meeting up with friends and people joking with her as they got their food. None of that was to say there weren’t grumpy people, and people obviously disconnected or suffering in other ways, but it wasn’t a vast crowd of lined faces hunched and shivering around half empty half cold coffee cups. On the whole, it was a strangely nice experience, and she was thinking maybe she should get involved with something similar when she got back to her regular life.
Then the lunch rush ended, the doors were closed up, and things started to wind down. At length, the food was cleaned up, the tables were put away, and the last of the people still munching their food were shooed out to munch outside. As that happened Fern followed a woman out of the building, and Alison drifted off into the kitchen which Jessie knew was clean and had a back door. Kyle hadn’t gotten back.
She was still trying to decide who to follow when Lynn, Jen, Murrow, and Alaxander arrived at her side enmass. Jen seemed to be the spokesperson of the group, because she started talking immediately while they remained silent.
“Hey, there’s this great little indie coffee place about a block over. I don’t know about you, but I’m still dragging. Want to get a cup?”
“You’ll be missing out if you don’t come. This place is really cool. The guy who runs it really loves coffee and he focuses on getting it just right. He only uses one kind of bean but he roasts it himself, and then you can get it made with a french press, or a cold brew, or a bunch of other stuff. You’ve never had it quite like this.”
“Don’t even like coffee? You just think that because you’ve never had the good stuff.” Jen was still smiling, but Jessie noticed Lynn, Murrow, and Alaxander had actually moved a little around her rather than away and towards the door. Wow, she thought, are they really going to drag me if I don’t follow on my own? Perhaps it was unconscious. People always tend to shift towards their goal.
At any rate, she wasn’t going to sneak off unnoticed, “Sure, you’ve talked me into it. It better be as good as you say!”