In the street in front to the coffeehouse , people walked small excited dogs. Bent over overpriced coffees and underwhelming brownies, friends gathered at tables in groups of two and three. Everyone was pretending the weather was nicer than it because it had been nicer than it had been in a long time. Randy didn’t sit outside under the colorful awning and the threatening clouds, he sat in the coffeehouse. Its brick red textured walls and macramé wall hangings made him nervous. Was this place supposed to be Mediterranean or boho farmhouse? And why was everything boho farmhouse all of a sudden? The cashier sprayed down the counter. Randy grimaced down at his large cup of inky coffee.
“Is it okay?” The cashier asked.
She had straight dark brown hair with half moon eyes over full cheeks. Freckles, adorable freckles, lay across the tops of her cheeks and bridged her nose. Randy had memorized each one. He looked up at the music in her voice and smiled inanely. She returned his smile as if he was an addlepated urchin.
Recognizing his own idiocy Randy replied, “no it’s delish.” Why did I use the word delish. I hate delish, he thought. He took a hearty swig and choked. Randy erupted into a series of throat wrenching spasms. The cashier hurried around the counter with a stack of napkins and poured him a cup of water from the dispenser. Another worker, an older man with a furious beard, came from the back and stared. The cashier handed him the water and napkins then backed away. She blushed up to her hairline. Her hair was in a careless bun with loose strands artfully spilling to one side.
“I love you, I mean I thank you, I mean thank you.” Randy launched into another bout of coughing.
A bespectacled guy with an ironic tee came in. “Hey Graham, I thought I would miss you guys. You got any of that granola left? Saturdays are a madhouse.”
“Yeah, I was thinking where’s Nate, a whole morning and no Nate,” Graham said.
Randy gathered his battered sketchbook and other belongings and retreated under the cover of small talk.
Stupid, stupid, Randy thought. Heading into the street of dogs and friends and hints of rain, Randy stomped to his bicycle. He was loading his backpack when a bucket of half melted ice splashed beside him.
“Sorry, man,” the cashier said.
“No big deal,” Randy mumbled not daring to look at her lovely angel face again. He straddled his bike and hoped a convenient chasm would swallow him whole.
“Dude, your backpack.”
She stood bucket on hip watching him. Randy reached for his bag.
“So why does a dude bike out of his way to a coffeehouse to drink coffee all afternoon when he doesn’t drink coffee? It sounds like a hell of a story.”
Randy blinked. The cashier met his eyes. She wasn’t being kind just curious. That made talking easier.
“It’s kind of a long story, long, humiliating, and a little funny.” The cashier’s expression sharpen. She raised an eyebrow.
“It started with a woman called Cassandra. Really it started with a custom Lord of the Rings Nerf bow. I have a 3D printer and I carve and I sculpt. I run an Etsy store and I was contacted by this girl Cassandra, a potential customer, about a bespoke bow. She liked my stuff. We were into the same things. I really opened up about myself and I’m not that guy so. She got—and anyway we texted and texted. Her words were the first thing I read in the morning and the last thing before I fell asleep at night. I wanted….” Randy’s voice flowed and then ebbed.
“You wanted what everyone wants someone who gets you,” the cashier said. She flipped over the bucket and sat on it. “Good beginning, continue.” She cocked her head to the side like an attentive cat.
“But Cassandra never had time to talk or FaceTime. We made dates to hang but she never showed. This went on for months.”
“Uh, oh, your Spidey sense must’ve been tingling.” The cashier covered her mouth with her delicate hands.
Randy scrubbed at his neck remembering his own dumbassery. “I pushed down my doubts because she was so cool and nice and funny.”
The cashier added,” and hot, right. Hot people get away with shenanigans.”
Randy blushed purple in response. “Anyway, long short stupid I shipped the custom order and some other things I’ve made and the credit card came up stolen. The girl gave me the run around for a while. Turns out Cassandra was some old reprobate in Des Moines and I had to wrangle with Visa to recoup some of my losses. I had to prove I was duped. I searched and searched. The profile was faked with someone else’s photo and info.”
Randy paused and searched the ground for that people eating chasm again. A hostile bishon frise yipped at him.
“And. What’s the denouement? God I’ve always wanted to legitimately use that word.”
“Tracked down Cassandra and I found the real woman in the photo lived in the next town over and worked in this coffee shop. I wanted to see the girl I fell in love with IRL.”
This time the cashier blinked.
“Hey Maggie, where’d you go!” A voice shouted from inside. The cashier rolled her eyes but stood up from the bucket. “The name’s Magdalena, you jack wagon.”
“But I never met the girl I loved at the coffeehouse because that woman was only in my head. So cue the Incredible Hulk closing music and scene.” Randy adjusted his backpack and prepared to ride off. He had all emotions, embarrassed, bashful, sad, and happy. They rumbled in his stomach making him uneasy or that could have been the three black coffees. “Thanks for listening. It was cathartic and a little funny. Buh bye.”
“Did you at least learn some heartwarming shit about yourself like your heart is now open to love or it’s only because you’re honest you couldn’t see the lie in other people?” The cashier and Randy shared a snort. They stared at each other after the laughter. The weather was more than hinting of rain.
Graham poked his head out the door. “This guy bothering you?”
“That’s my cue, thanks uh Magdalena. I’m Randy.” Randy pedaled away.
“Come back some time Randy we have other things besides coffee!” Magdalena shouted as he began to turn the corner. Smiling, he wobbled on his bike and rode away.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s