October 22, 2007
By Ashley Cloutman, El Prado, NM

It was called the Chipped Mug, a brightly lit hole in the wall of a café. Inside sat a girl. In front of her was a pack of cigarettes and a cup of black coffee. She had short, spiky blue hair and more tattoos and piercing than worth counting. Out of all of these things, the one thing that stood out the most about her was her eyes. She had one icy blue eye and a bright green one. This unique individual’s name was Karma Paegenstaph. Karma was a rebel, she went against the flow, and she had ideas, big ideas. She did a lot of work for the Peace Corps and any other organization that helped people. When asked what she did for a living she would respond ‘I fix hair by day, and save the world on the weekends!’
The little bell above the door dings, and a gorgeous brunette girl sits down across from Karma. She had a thin frame and a distinguished face. She wore a grey tank top underneath a blazer; a pencil skirt gave an illusion to curves Karma knew she didn’t have. Her name was Charlotte Eyre. Unbelievably this girl was Karma’s best friend. Karma finally looks up from her coffee cup.
“Wow, little miss punctual is late.” A wide smile crosses Karma’s face.
“And little miss health food is smoking a cigarette?” The pair busts out laughing.
“Car, baby, how have you been? It’s been, what, two years since I last saw you in person?”
“Yes, it has been so long.”
“Too long if you ask me.”
“Can I like, get you some like, coffee or something?” A bored teenage girl stands beside the table snapping her gum.
“Yes. I’ll have one vanilla, mocha latte with a twist of cinnamon, please.”
“Wow, somebody has a like sweet tooth.” The girl says in a bored voice as she walks away. Charlotte turns to Karma with a look of absolute glee on her face.
“Guess what.” She sticks her left hand out to Karma. A diamond ring the size of Rhode Island weighed down her ring finger.
“You’re engaged?! Holy crap, to who? And how many Africans did he have to kill to get a hold of that thing?”
“Yes, his name is Henry Ruhmstien and I insisted the diamond be from the glorious US of A. The wedding is in June.” Karma puts out her cigarette and smiles.
“Car, I’m so happy for you. This is great.”
“Guess who gets to be the maid of honor?”
“Oo, oh. Is it me? Is it me?” Charlotte laughs.
“Yes, silly. It is you.” Karma reaches over and hugs her friend across the table, almost upsetting her coffee.
“Yay! That means so much to me.”
“So enough about me. Tell me, do you have any special guy in your life?” Charlotte takes a sip of her freshly delivered latte while Karma lights a new cigarette.
“Well I do have a friend that is a boy or ‘boyfriend’” She makes quotation marks with her fingers. “If you want to label things.”
“Yah, go on.”
“I met him in Tibet. He lived in a small village in the Himalayas. He had been forced out of his hometown by the Chinese government, that’s why all of them were there. He helped us set up a school there.”
“Where is he now?”
“I don’t know. He’s either running errands or ‘learning’” She does quotation marks with her fingers. “English by watching TV.” Charlotte’s eyes open wide.
“So he’s in the states?”
“Yah. He kept telling me that he wanted to see America, and I didn’t want to go back without him. So I just brought him with, and I’m really glad I did.” Karma smiles.
“That’s sweet. Sounds like we’re starting to get better at this relationship thing, hu?” The two girls were notorious for having issues in the relationship department, faulty boyfriends left and right.
“Well lets hope so!”
“I’ll drink to that!”
“Ma, we have dated some weird ones, hu?”
“No joke! What, Hakim the health nut, Adam the male model, Clarence the intellectual, Floyd the burnout, Roy the punk, Otto the Goth, Jack the…” She cant finish the sentence because she is laughing so hard. “And that’s just since college! You have a whole list of weirdo’s yourself, don’t you?”
“David the jock, Erick the burnout, Sam.” “LURCH!” they both yell at once. “Brandon the ego, Devon the burglar, Chase the crazy cat man, Brian the wannabe gangster, Ed the lawyer.” She barely makes it through the list she is laughing so hard. “Lor, lor, hahahaha.” Karma wipes tears from her eyes.

“I’m telling you, if lesbians weren’t so grouchy, I would be one.” Charlotte stops laughing and looks at Karma. More laughter erupts out of
the pair, so loud, shaking the little café. In between breaths, Charlotte takes off her blazer and reveals the tattoo of a peach on her arm, a symbol for Longevity. “So tell me about how you met Henry.”
“Well I met him at a mutual friend’s house. They were having a
get together and he stopped by. Henry hit on me and I blew him off. Before I left he stole my jacket and got my number from our friend. He called me and told me that he wanted to give it back in person. When I met him to get I back he told me that if he could only have one cup of coffee with me, he could die happy.” Charlotte watched Karma light a cigarette.
“He must have either been really desperate or totally in love.”
“Well I think it might have been a combination of both.” She giggles. “So I figured I would give him a chance.” She pauses to take a sip of her over sweetened coffee. “We talked for hours. So we went out for a year, and he proposed.”
“Aww, sweetie that was about one of the least nauseating love stories ever.” Karma would joke that she removed her soul to make room for sarcasm.
“Oh, Ma, coming from you that means so much.” Charlotte looks down at the glass table and sees her reflection. Her brunette locks were pulled into a bun, revealing her high cheekbones, hazel eyes and a smooth complexion. Karma gazed out the window, also catching a glimpse at her reflection. Life hadn’t been so good to Karma as it had been to Charlotte. She was a little heavy set; her hair was thin and stuck up at odd angles. She had acne scars and a scar that ran across her forehead.
“Charlotte?” She looks up at Karma.
“Remember how we met?” Charlotte smiles.
“Kindergarten, you were new and didn’t have a snack. I shared my fruit roll up with you. We ate it the same way, pulling at both ends and taking a bite out of the middle.” She pulls at a chain link necklace around her neck. Karma mimics her motion. “Best friends forever.”
“Boys and diplomas.”
“Oceans and babies.”
The bell above the door rings. A tall man with gauges in his ears and dirty boots walks in the door. He looks at the girls table and waves.
“Hi sweetie!” Charlotte looks up and Karma turns around.
“Henry!” Karma drops her cigarette in shock. Charlotte runs over to her fiancé and embraces him. Charlotte did not mention that Henry was most commonly known as Hellboy, a notorious rock star. Known for being an all around bad boy. He was the guitarist of one of Karma’s favorite bands.
“Your marrying Hellboy, the guitarist of Skulls and broken bones?! Why didn’t you tell me?” The bell dings again and this time a thin Asian man with long black hair and a clean suit walks through the door. Karma stands up and walks over to him.
“Norbu! Charlotte is marrying the guitarist of my favorite band!” Norbu looks from Karma to Henry and puts out his hand.
“You must be Hellboy.” Henry shakes Norbu’s hand.
“I’m sorry my fiancé is so rude. I’m Henry and this is Charlotte, and you are?”
“I’m Norbu and this is Karma, nice to meet you.” Charlotte walks over to Karma and whispers in her ear.
“I thought you weren’t into suits.” Karma whispers in Charlotte’s ear
“I thought you weren’t into bad boys.”
“I like him because he reminds me of you.”
“That’s why I like Norbu.”

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