One night early November 2012…
It was midnight, and while the streets of LA were still busy and lit, some places were beginning to settle down and others were still at an uproar. Down on the Sunset Boulevard, many taxi cabs stopped, picking up and dropping off civilians. Most likely, these were tired from their fill of excitement or about to engage in it. Still sometimes, no matter how crowded your surroundings, you can still feel so alone.
A young woman in a black button-dress uniform, walked outside a restaurant. It was evident she was an employee, taking a breath of fresh air. Feet and neck sore and tired, she inhaled and exhaled deeply, looking at her watch. There were still a few hours to left till she could go home.
She released her tight wrapped hair, allowing her long curly hair to fall. Had it been daylight, you could've seen her sandy brown hair with natural blonde highlights. Yet in the night, you could only appreciate the volume and texture. After a moment of rubbing the back of her neck she redid her bun and retied her apron, almost ready to walk back in.
Further down on the same street, walked a gentleman; young and lost, fascinated by the city. Wishing he had escaped earlier to see more things on his own. He had spent the last half hour convincing his band mates, back at the hotel, that he could sneak out unnoticed and get away with it.
What started out first as a joke, ended up being his ticket to this brief taste of unsupervised freedom. His friend had gotten a trucker cap with a wig attached underneath it. So while he sported a short cut, surely no one would recognize him with blond shaggy hair. Accepting the challenge he put it to the test, the rest of his friends stayed behind ready to pass out.
Wearing someone else's shirt, to complete the costume, he walked around the area and spotted a mellow looking restaurant that appeared to be open still. Mesmerized, as he heard the R&B music playing; the place was dim with few people. A much different and older crowd than he was used to; no screaming fans in sight. The area was safe.
The waitress was behind the register, ringing up the last transaction, when she saw the young man come in. Looking over at her coworker who was already set on clocking out, she nodded that she would take him. She waited till he decided on where to sit, oddly, he chose the end with the loveseat and empty chairs.
"Good evening, how are you sir?" She asked politely.
Clearing his throat "I'm good thank you."
"That's good to hear. Up late tonight?" She smiled while placing a menu on the coffee table in front of him.
"I've been having trouble sleeping lately." He said with a smoother tone, making his British accent more noticeable.
"I'm sorry to hear that. I'm Piper, and will be your server tonight. Can I get you anything or would you like a few minutes?"
"I would actually like some tea. Do you have any?"
"Sure. We have peach, raspberry, chamomile and green tea?"
"Oh I would love some green tea please."
"Right away sir…I hope you don't mind me asking but where are you from?"
"I'm sorry, it was silly of me to ask. I'll be right back with your tea."
"Thank you very much."
Piper shook her head smiling to herself. It was a long night already and now a foreign customer with an appealing accent is all she had to look forward to till closing time. There were some people huddled at the bar and at a booth, so it was safe to say there'd be no major orders made.
The gentleman felt sure that if he took off his cap, he'd be fine, but he didn't want to startle the waitress. He took out his phone to return a text to his worried band mate that he was fine. Soon he was sucked into the social feedings, reading his fans comments and praises.
"Here you go." She said kindly while placing his tea on the table. "Can I get you anything else, an extra menu perhaps?"
"It will just be me. But thank you so much for the tea."
The tea was wonderful and soon made him quite hot. Looking around once more, he decided to take off his cap, relieved that his head could finally breathe again. Amongst the comments he had read, the ones regarding his recent breakup with his girlfriend stung the most. It wasn't a wonder why his insomnia had worsened.
Luckily for Piper, more customers had left. All that was left was a drunken man at the bar and her English man. The kitchen was already closed and the bartender was almost through cleaning his station. Piper had the floor under control as the music continued to play and the drinks kept going…as long as it was green tea.
The bartender turned off his lights and escorted the kamikaze outside, along with the trash. Piper went towards the couches but looked around confused, not spotting the blonde foreigner but a brunette. She cautiously crept around to see him up close, but he still wore the same clothes.
"Umm…" She pointed at his head and squinted.
"Ah, yes. This belongs to a mate of mine. I wore it as a joke. Sorry about that."
"Okay. I just thought, I can't be that tired that I'm imagining things."
"Oh no no." He laughed.
She couldn't help think how cute and boyish his laugh was. He did look quite young…younger than her even.
"Would you like another cup?"
"I'm fine actually…Umm, am I the only one left? What time do you close?"
"You're fine. It was drunken Nate who had me worried. But you can stay as long as you'd like. We close at 2am."
"More like you close?"
"Yeah. I'll just be finishing up back there if you need anything."
"Good good. I promise I'm almost finished."
"Like I said, there's no rush…in fact, you've inspired me to make my own cup of tea." She said with a smirk.
"Then you must definitely have chamomile." He smiled coyly.
Piper walked back over to the bar, and took some hot water from the coffee machine. She set her tea cup by the register and finished summing up the receipts. Removing her apron and setting it on the counter, she then removed the band from her hair to relieve a bit of the headache that had begun to form.
Feeling a bit foolish, sitting on the couch alone while staring at the brick wall, the English man went to sit closer at the bar. Before he could step any closer, he stopped to gaze at her surprisingly full mane. He was in awe of her golden untamed locks, admitting to always have an attraction to wild curly hair. For a moment, he was reminded of his ex, but they still looked drastically different.
"Would you mind if I sat here?" He asked pointing to the stool not too far away from where she was.
"Not at all. I'd enjoy the company." She smiled.
"So you pulled a transformation stunt as well."
Unsure by what he meant, until he pointed at her hair. She laughed to herself and shrugged her shoulders, as though she couldn't help it.
"So may I ask what you are doing here in LA? Did you move here?"
"No actually, I'm just visiting. Passing through with some friends."
"Ah, the secretive type I see." She assumed while closing the register.
"Nooo. I'm telling the truth. I swear." A little laugh slipped.
"Do you mind if I join you for a moment?" Piper grabbed her cup and sat on the stool beside him.
"Would it be rude of me to ask your age?"
"I'm 24. And you?"
"I recently turned 19."
"Oh, you're a kid!"
"I find that unlikely since you're only 5 years older. Therefore you're an older kid."
"No, that's not how it works in America. Once you hit that 21st mark, you're an official adult."
"Says the wise older woman."
"Mock all you want. I still would have asked for your ID and denied you any alcohol."
"That would have been fine, since I rarely drink anyway."
"You're intriguing…it must be the accent." She smiled while sipping on her cup.
"It must be…I'm Oliver by the way."
"Piper, but you already knew that."
"Well Piper, you have been the best server I've ever had. That reminds me, how much do I owe you?" He asked while standing to reach his wallet.
"Oh no, it's on the house. A belated birthday present."
"Wow, thank you. I'm honored. But you must allow me to leave you a tip."
"If you wish, but slide it under my apron over there; I always get bashful when people just hand it to me."
Piper got up to take the empty cups around the bar and rinse them out. She enjoyed Oliver's company; it was something different from her nightly routine. She looked up momentarily and saw him scribbling on the bill that he then slid under her apron. She hadn't had a chance to observe him closely, but now that he wasn't looking…she thought he was handsome in a charming and naïve way.
Putting his cap back on, Oliver smiled back at her making a silly face to go with his silly disguise. He didn't tell her his secret. She clearly didn't recognize him with or without the wig. The important fact was she cheered him up with some nice company, great tea and service. Now he was ready to head back to his hotel room and try and sleep.
"Piper, it was a pleasure. Thank you again so much for your kind service."
"You are very welcome, Oliver. I hope you come again."
"I will. I will remember this place. Cheers!" He waved one last time before walking out.