Coffee is the Best Medicine...
September 2, 2005
...The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop
(A serial. You may start reading at any point in the story.
Why not start with this episode?)
The next morning I arrived at the coffee shop, notebook in hand and ready for work. I took my place at the counter and studied the faces of this colorful crew--Rose, Brenda, Butch, and the health inspector.
I was surprised to find the health inspector at the shop again, Surely he must have a job to do somewhere else. I watched him dive into a stack of Rose's pancakes. Was I nuts or had he gained weight from the day before?
The appearance of his long pointy nose had softened, thanks to a bad case of rapidly expanding cheeks. If he kept eating like that, gulping down Rose's creations nonstop, he soon wouldn't fit on any of the tiny chairs in the coffee shop.
I took a seat next to him, spreading out my notebook, pens, and a tiny recorder. I made certain the recorder was off rather than on auto, because I feared his chewing and gobbling would accidentally activate it.
"Nice to see you again," I said.
"Yeah, I guess," he replied stopping in mid-chew to study me. "Who are you anyway?" he asked.
"I'm JO...just another customer."
"What's that recorder about then?"
"Oh, I'm a freelance writer. Thought I'd do a report on this place."
"Mmmph. Well, the food's good." He plunged another forkful of pancakes in his mouth as if to prove the point.
Curiosity took over. What was he doing here again today? "You're the health inspector, right?" I asked.
He stopped chewing and looked at me. "What's it to you?" he asked.
"Well, I mean. You were here yesterday and now you're back again. Are you supposed to be here today again?"
"Are you trying to tell me my business?"
"No, no! I'm just curious."
At that moment, Rose appeared with a pot of hot coffee. She filled his cup as he watched. A small smile curved his lips in a dumb expression of utter fascination. I came close to choking on my coffee.
"Oh my Gawd! You're in love with Rose!" I blurted out.
"Ssssh! I don't want her to know!"
"Is that why you're here all the time, because you can't stand to be away from her?"
His face transformed to a bright red all the way to the tip of his pointy nose. He leaned close and whispered in halting phrases.
"I don't want her to know. She probably doesn't like me. If she would reject me, I don't know what I'd do." He looked down to his scruffy brown shoes and murmured. "I've been hurt before."
My heart went out to him. You might find this surprising, but I was a geek when I was young. I was even president of the Latin club. How well I remember being the oddball in the crowd. There and then, I felt his pain.
"Okay. Against my better judgment, I won't say anything to anybody," I said.
"Thank you!" he replied. "It was love at first sight, you know."
To be Continued
Copyright 2005 JO Janoski
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