The title begs the question, Literati, was Joseph Conrad referring to that rich brew, that dark roast, when he wrote his masterpiece? And, of course, I am reminded of my second favorite bumper sticker: Gimme my coffee and nobody gets hurt!
Heart of the Espresso
by Stefanie Allison
“Your turn to pay,” I said. My hands were shaking—damn withdrawals.
“You need to tell her,” Paul said.
“I told her everything I needed to say.”
“How about everything you want to say?”
“Christina? Can you ring them up? My register is down.”
“Sure, Jill. Ok, that’ll be $1.95 for the doppio.” Paul began to hand her a five. As she was about to grab it, he jerked it away.
“Admit you love her.”
“Dude, my hands are shaking and we’ll be late!”
“Admit it, or no coffee.” The sight of my shots turning black from oxidation made my heart rate rise.
“Aw, how cute! It’s the same reaction he has every time she walks by his office—OW, MARK!”
“ALRIGHT, I ADMIT IT!” I yelled, grabbing Paul by his shirt. “I LOVE HER, OK? I LOVE CORINA MYERS. NOW WOULD YOU JUST PAY FOR MY COFFEE SO I CAN STEW ABOUT IT IN PEACE?!”
The Starbucks, once chirping with lively activity, stopped dead in its tracks. I swear I saw the coffee stop pouring the second I started screaming.
Jill remained behind the register. Paul handed over the five.
“Keep the change, ma’am,” Paul squeaked.
Jill ran past Christina.
“Jill! You’re on register, not bar!”
“Go tonight, Mark,” Paul said, adjusting his tie. I shook my head and stared at my shoes.
“I never made an RSVP and I threw the invitation away.”
“Just go anyway.”
“It’s too late, Paul.”
“Doppio espresso for Mark!”
I stopped before we got to the condiment bar.
“Mark? I hate to be the one to say this now, but we’ll be late if you don’t hurry.”
“Did that Jill girl at the register seem familiar?”
“Don’t know. I had a feeling I’d seen her on Corina’s Facebook before you manhandled me. Why?”
I turned the cup to Paul.
“‘Toshi’s Sushi Bar, 7PM tonight,’” Paul read. “‘And bring daffodils; those are her favorite flowers.’”
Jill was back at the register like nothing happened.
I’ll thank her tonight.