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The Coffee Toss MAG
The soothing fragrance of expensive espresso enveloped me as Donovan opened the door. We stood there a moment, taking in the scene and savoring the warmth that was returning to our bodies. We had been walking up and down Main Street all evening in search of presents, since it was already mid-December. Half of our shopping was spent trudging through more than a foot of snow. The café was full of square tables, and pressed up against the wall were miscellaneous couches and love seats, all occupied by teens and college students huddled together, sipping their drinks. Donovan was rambling on about the applications of trigonometry to our physics problems for the day.
"So you can find the launch angle easily if you just take the tangent of-"
"Look, right now the only thing I’m concerned with is getting some coffee," I cut in, hoping to end the discussion of physics. I try to avoid talking about school when I’m not actually there.
"All right," he replied. "What are you getting?"
"The usual," I said, and looked at the girl behind the counter. She was probably three or four years older than me, but a foot shorter. Her face was well-constructed, as if an experienced sculptor had created what he believed to be the ultimate angel. Her petite size increased the sense of curiosity she wore like a blanket. I smiled and began to place my order.
"Hi, can I have a double-"
Another girl, taller and with a shrill, annoying voice, stepped in front of the angel, taking us both by surprise. "Can I get you something?" she asked.
"Uh ... yeah," I uttered with great disdain. "A double mocha latté."
"Sure, and what about your friend?"
"Oh, um ... just a cup of black coffee for me, please," Donovan requested.
She rang up our bill and gave Donovan his coffee.
"Yours will be a few minutes. I’ll bring it to you," she told me.
Finding a table, we talked about our ideas for gifts. I watched him drink his coffee down to the very last trickle before going back to the counter, where I found the annoying girl.
"Excuse me, I was wondering when my double mocha latté would be ready."
"Oh, I’m sorry!" she exclaimed in a nails-meet-chalkboard tone. "I’ll have that out to you in two minutes, promise. I’m really very sorry."
"That’s fine," I lied, and went back to my table as the front door opened.
There stood Carter, Donovan’s older brother. He was 6'5," built like a Roman gladiator, hated me, and hated Donovan even more. Carter had done nothing but insult Donovan for 17 years. He saw us immediately, grinned like a stray dog, and came over.
"What are you doing here, you little queer?" he spat in the form of what most speech pathologists would call a question.
In response, Donovan did what he’d come to do in these situations - nothing. He sat there, stared at his empty coffee cup, and waited for the storm to pass, so to speak.
Carter went on with insult after insult, laughing like the idiot he was. More and more people looked at our table. I’m not sure what got into me. Maybe I was tired of my friend being berated, maybe I didn’t like feeling embarrassed in front of the Coffee Angel. I reached to a nearby table, grabbed someone’s fresh cup of joe, and tossed it in Carter’s face.
His first expression was that of a person who has tasted something sour, and every opening on his face sealed up in a contorted mask of shock. His next expression mimicked the one Donovan had worn only moments before - blank.
Destructive silence fell over the café. Then Donovan yelled, "Run!" and we charged through the front door, catching a glimpse of Carter flipping over the table to chase us.
Once outside, Donovan and I split; he took off down Main Street while I ran to the alley behind the café. To my amazement, Carter followed Donovan. I leaned against a brick wall, catching my breath. The door next to me opened.
"I thought I saw you turn down here." It was the Coffee Angel.
I smiled, "Huh - yeah." Good response.
"You’re lucky he didn’t come after you," she said.
"I’m surprised he didn’t. I’m the one who threw the coffee in his face. I just hope he doesn’t catch up with Donovan. The ogre was his brother."
"I see." Her eyes had this calming, intense sparkle. She bent behind the door and picked up something. It was a drink. My drink.
"Double mocha latté, right?"
I looked at the cup with slight stupification and managed another "Huh - yeah."
"I’m sorry it took so long. Krissy, can be a little ... er ... absent-minded. I told her not to bother, that I would make your order. I finished just in time to see you throw someone’s coffee in his face. That was really nice what you did for your friend."
"S’pose so," I contemplated. "Although I’m pretty sure I only made matters worse."
"Mm, maybe. But you didn’t let his brother get away with those insults. Not without a free drink, that is. I think that’s quite admirable."
"Perhaps. Sorry about the spilled coffee - oh, and the table too."
She grinned, and it lit up the entire alleyway.
"That’s all right," she said, then added with subtle satisfaction, "I’ll let Krissy clean it up. Which reminds me, I’m done with work. I was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk or something."
I stood there thinking, I get it. I’m asleep. Well, unconscious, at least. Either way, I’m dreaming. Maybe Carter followed me after all and pummeled me. I’m lying in the snow, catching pneumonia and waiting for someone to find me next to the dumpster. And I’m dreaming the Coffee Angel is asking me to go for a walk, and before I reply I’m going to wake up with my mom hanging over me, asking if my pillow is fluffy enough.
I stood there, silent, looking in her eyes. She looked back at me, waiting for my reply. Then a hint of embarrassment spread across her face, and she said, "Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. We don’t even know each other."
Geez! I am awake! Speak! "No ... that is, no, I’m not busy. Forgive me, I ... zoned out for a minute. A walk sounds like a great idea."
She disappeared, then came back bundled up in her jacket, and before I knew it we had introduced ourselves and were walking. We discussed almost everything imaginable. We walked for hours that December night.
Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown that coffee in Carter’s face. Maybe Donovan was in for a good scuffle with his brother when he got home. All I know is that I met my Coffee Angel, and that my double mocha latté tasted more and more perfect with every sip as we walked.