Friday, November 4, 2016

A Word on Coffee

8:00am - I slowly rolled out of bed, made my way into the kitchenette, and grabbed my only coffee mug. I turned on the faucet, and nothing came out. "Damn."

8:45am - I pushed through a mess of bodies, curving my chest around a cardboard cup of coffee to protect it from the crowd. Connie's, the local coffeehouse, was one of the few places in town that still had water. Unfortunately, I hadn't been the only person to figure that out, and it was as if a number of townspeople had decided to overrun the place. I wouldn't have gone near it if I hadn't needed the caffeine. Every once in a while, a business asks me to give a presentation or assess something on-site, but I happen to be the only businessman that wakes up a reasonable time in the morning, so I rely on coffee to help me up.

I headed into Howell Park in search of further privacy, finally taking a sip of my coffee, as I tapped my cane against the dirt path. I almost spit it out. Compared to the coffee that I make in the apartment, I might as well have been taking a bite out of the cup that the coffee came in. I took a breath to harden my resolve. Caffeine was caffeine. I was about to take a second sip, when I noticed that someone else was on the path. It was a young girl (she couldn't have been older than seventeen), and she looked as if a small wind would have caused her to shatter into pieces. At first I walked right past her. It was obvious to me that something truly upsetting had taken place, and I have dealt with more of that in my life than any man's fair share. Nowadays, my policy is to keep to myself, and I happen to be damn good at it. But that's when she spoke.

"Um, have you seen a man named Steve? He hasn't been home in a few days. He's a medium height, and a bit chubby. You probably would have seen him in a white button down and some khakis. He has a perfect comb over, if that helps." I turned and stared at her for a second. She had a British accent.

"Oh, ah, is Steve missing?" She made a face at me, and I kicked myself. "Is he your dad?" I asked.

"Host dad," she replied. "I've been staying with him and his wife."

I just stood there for a moment. I felt helpless. Out of my depth. I held out the cardboard cup. "Do you like coffee?" I asked.

Finally, it was her turn to look flabbergasted. "A lot, actually. I was never much of a tea person."

"Take it." She took it.

"Thank you." She took a sip.

"You're welcome." I walked away as fast as I could, leaving her as she made happy faces into the drink.

9:15am - I sit in my silent car with the key in the ignition, still just as goddamn tired as when I woke up, while I hold back tears. I need a drink.

I can't drink.

I cry.

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