It was a day like any other day. I’d just finished sweeping the floor of the CocoaJava Cafe, when I began to experience that strange sensation of someone looking at me. I turned around… no one. The feeling continued… I looked downward. From somewhere in the vicinity of my kneecap, Clockwinder Tenk was smiling up at me. In a charming way. This could only mean one thing and that one thing was not flirtation. He wanted something of me. “Okay, Cheshire smiling wee one. What do you wish of me?” I inquired. “Oh, um” he helpfully said, while tapping his toes and circling his finger on his coffee cup. “What do you think of the university district?” he inquired. “All those students. All that studying. All those late nights.” As he rambled on, I began to understand. He knew I’d never part with my cafe. He wasn’t asking me to move and leave it behind. He was asking the absurd and impossible, and damn me, I was actually considering it.
He pressed on, intent on making his point. “They are going to need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.” I was now very clear on what Tenk wished me to do. But still I hesitated. And then came the clincher. “You get to be the boho across the street corrupting the students with romantic notions and distracting them from their studies.”
There was a long pause. I stared down at him. He smiled sweetly up at me. I sighed. “Right, sir. Let’s go look at the land.” To my amazement, I was able to purchase a parcel very close to the university grounds. All those students… lots and lots of coffee.
The next morning I began recruiting strong, burly workers. This was going to be a monumental move, and like pulling a sore tooth, it would be best to simply get it done rather than prolong the agony. A plan was formed. It was a good solid plan, as solid as the stone building that would, after hundreds of years in one spot, be rumbling eastward to its new location.
It took a dozen of the afore-mentioned burly men under the supervision of the burliest of them all, Sven Myklebust to raise the cafe onto a latticework of thick wood beams. A few stones fell loose during the process, but those could be easily fitted back once the move was over. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw how much care the workers were taking with my precious building. The worst was over; it had been set free from the earth. What could possibly go wrong from here?
Huge wood and iron wheels were then fastened to the wood frame, and miles of strong rope were used to lash the frame together tightly – while at the same time slipping the bottom level of the framework out, in order to let the wheels have enough clearance to roll freely. Horses were brought in to provide, well, horsepower. I held my breath as the team was nudged into action and began to pull their burden, straining to get those giant wheels rolling, then moving more confidently once momentum kicked in.
Crossing the railroad tracks sent a few dozen more stones flying – I quickly called out to a small group of gawking urchins to gather them up. “Find a cart and bring them along! I’ll pay you each a shiny Tenk at the destination!” The promise of coin was effective, and my workforce grew.
My cafe lurched and rumbled its way up the road, heading for Academy Downs, wobbling slightly but being as brave as a mobile stone building could be.
It was just as we passed Maison Horta that the stained glass awning came off. It simply slid loose, the intricate patterns of glass and lead capturing the sunlight as it plummeted to the street, sounding a crescendo of tinkling notes out across the Palisade. The Cafe was saying ‘farewell’ to its old home in grand form.
I would tell of the havoc wreaked as the old girl worked through the Simulator Crossing, but my nerves have not completely recovered from that spectacle. Suffice it to say that the bottle of absinthe that flew loose from the strapped down furnishings was caught and consumed before you could say “Bob’s yer Urchin”.
I would love to be able to report that the cafe was gently lowered onto its new plot of soil. I really would love to be able to, but momma taught me not to lie. As the workers positioned her over the new location, the wood beams supporting her decided it was time to take up an exciting new career as kindling. When the dust cleared, the building looked for all the world like a large stone bird perched drunkenly in a nest of twigs.
But, she was, for the most part still intact. And I saw something else as that dust cleared. Standing on the sidewalk was Miss Kaylee Frye, happily soaking up the free entertainment. And holding a trowel.
I looked at Kaylee with pleading eyes. She smiled and exploded, as she is wont to do. Within moments of her recovery though, we’d come to an agreement. It was such a relief to watch her repair the café. She straightened the walls and replaced the loose stones, cementing them back into place even better than they’d started out! Mister Galactic Baroque came by and helped with some steps. He also teamed up with Kaylee to build a low wall around the patio. I was reminded of a barn-raising, where everyone would work on a building together. I truly love New Babbage and its citizens, always eager for a chance to build and socialize.
And so, by day’s end, the CocoaJava Cafe was happily settled into its new location. I’ve been busily unpacking the furnishings and also the candies for Truffles and Tribulations, the sweet shoppe on the side of the cafe, and it all feels like home again.
Please do come by and relax a bit, while enjoying Radio Riel’s Steampunk music stream. You’ll find a free Tenk-O-Lantern on the wall by the sidewalk to take back to your home for Halloween decorating. Newcomers and those without homes will discover they can unpack boxes in the cafe, or go up the ladder into the storage room for a bit of privacy to dress. Rebellious sorts may choose to ignore the warning on the backside of the cafe and … clamber.
And those tired university students will be given coffee, and rest, and subtle talk of rebellion against the status-quo. Long live pre-Bohemian café society. If you have room for another group, please search the SL Groups for Ceejaytopia and join the lazy, caffeinated rebellion.