The Dead Profession: Chapter 1

February 13, 2011
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The stench of coffee beans clung to every object and person that entered the store. It was bright now, sun peered through the windows and created a glare that blinded those who sat facing the window. Chatter and the clicks of keyboard strokes were as ambient to me as a birds coo is to an outdoorsman.

I looked up at the choices on the menu, for a coffee shop they always managed to fit so many items on the menu. Mostly it was repeated types of Coffee, espresso or tea, but even still it always caught me as gluttonous. The lanky teen taking orders stared at me slack-jawed, his expression looked bored and angst driven.

“Can I have a Black Coffee? No sugar and no cream please.” I asked the young man.

“You want sugar and cream with that?” He took no effort in listening to my order, he obviously had been trained like a dog to go through these motions every day.

“No cream please and no sugar as well.” I asked, I’d come to expect as much from this generation and just went with it for now.

“Here, that’ll be eight thirty seven sir.” he said pushing the drink towards me on the counter. I handed him a ten and waited for my change. It took him a moment to count out the exact number of dollars to change ratio, but as he finished I pocketed the two dollars and sixty three cents and walked to the secluded area in the rear of the shop.

There in the corner sat four gentlemen whom I’d known quite well through the years since I started. All of them were writers, most were of the highest pedigree of writers, others were not unfortunately. I sat across from the aging man whom was reading a New Yorker, the others were posed perpetually around a cheap tabloid. Grins graced the faces of the men, they pointed to something occasionally, mocking it afterward.

“Look Brad, the stars are just like us!” Joshua said in his soft sarcasm. .

“Who would of thought, I mean they do breathe, eat and sleep normal enough. Stupid b*****ds.” Brad said with content.

“Why do they even have that stupid section? Of course I don’t know why they have the whole d*** magazine.” Joshua asked as William put down his New Yorker to take a sip of tea, then he answered.

“You see Joshua, people “like” what they know they can not “have,” it’s for the people who love the drama and reality of another person’s life. They live through it because they have nothing better to do. Like a buffoon, who happily licks his fingers after a large meal to emphasize his total lack of self respect. ” He took another sip of tea and the magazine went right back into his face.

The short man at the end of the table, Steven spoke.

“Well put Willy.” Then he grabbed the tabloid and threw it towards the closest trash bin, missing in the process.

He shrugged and turned towards the others, stating “We don’t read that cr*p, understand?” He spoke with authority in his voice and was in vain seeing how he spoke to writers as if he could control them.

“Not like the cr*p you print? Right Stevey?” Asked the songwriter Luis humorously.

Steven looked to the group, asking.

“I’m sorry, did any one hear that? Sounded like the pop song writer just insulted me. Could It be that Lou here grew a pair?”

Luis blushed then answered.

“At least My profession isn’t dying Steve. Few more years and you‘ll be singing in the rain, just like ole’ poetry here.” He said facing Joshua.

Joshua, who was eating looked up, glared at Ricardo for a moment then continued with his eggs.

“What hope do you think you got?” He asked. I tuned out the rest of the argument and gazed quietly around the shop. There was a table of thirty year olds in a circle, their eyes focused on the screens of their laptops.

They seemed to be playing a game of some caliber, they ignored all sounds besides that of their game. They would comment on something that happened or happening in the game, they shut out all other distractions in the store. So much, so that when a table of women made advances toward them; they were oblivious to it.

In the far corner there was a man draped in a gray business suit, he had a small cup of what I could only guess was a cappuccino to some degree. He read the newspaper spread out in front of him, I could see the bright colors from where I sat and realized he’d been reading the comics section; chuckling to himself as he read.

I shook my head and turned to the bell that rung from the front door opening, In walked a average sized man of a young age. His hair was short and ruffled, uncombed and unkempt. He had a small sling bag on his back and his clothes reeked of a college students Ramen and Mountain Dew. He turned, noticed me staring towards him and stared back for a moment before walking over.

A small grin graced his slender face and he looked towards me and then to the aging man across from me.

“Sir William Glass, I presume?” He said looking towards the older man. William sighed lightly while rolling his eyes behind his magazine. He put down the magazine with a dull look on his face, unhappy that he had been found out.

“Yes, you got me. Good show I might add, usually people can’t see past my “entourage” of sorts.” We all looked to him puzzled and Luis himself, looked as if he was going to strike him but denied himself the pleasure.

“It is you! I’m sorry I just thought I’d ask if you could sign my copy of your Jason Thawborne series. I didn’t want to intrude or anything like that, but this is such a rare opportunity.” He spoke with such enthusiasm and with such an awkward use of language, it was almost as if he wasn’t sure of the meaning of the words he used.

“I suppose, do any of you have a pen I could borrow?” William asked.

“Oh don’t worry, I have one here.” Said the young man excitedly.

“Trust me, it didn’t worry me in the least.” William stated dryly. He continued to sign the book as the young man told us his life story compacted within a ten minute summary.

Which was honestly remarkable given how slow he told it, he gave vivid accounts of college and told us aimlessly that his name was Harry and how he was trying to become an author like William. He then sat himself next to me unexpectedly, and kept talking and talking and talking. If there was one career he would excel in, it would have to be writing.

As he was finished around the nine minute marker I looked towards him amazed, and said “Well you can sure talk like a writer.” Afterwards he stared at me in amazement, then stated that he had heard that voice before, but wasn’t sure where. Suddenly it became clear and exclaimed, “You’re Watts! From Watts at Night on- oh god what was it? 107.3? But that‘s where I heard you, you‘re on radio; aren’t you?” I blushed lightly and confirmed his belief and he threw himself into a excited, question asking, frenzy.

At this point the kid scared me a little, I’m not sure whether he just really liked the idea of being surrounded by a few well known writers or whether he was completely and utterly insane. I suppose it’s a bit from both columns, but regardless he seemed nice enough. William on the other hand looked close to strangling the kid, it was humorous to see him mad. Normally he’s the most reserve of the group, and to see him flustered by a mere twenty something, made me chuckle a bit on the inside.

“Kid calm down! I ain’t never seen someone so worked up over a radio host.” Luis consoled the kid in his own manner.

“I think its time for me to get going now anyway.” Joshua intervened grabbing his coat and some crumpled papers with.

“What’s on the papers Josh?” said Bradley whom noticed the crumbled texts’.

“Just some old writings I did- god knows how long ago. I just like to hold on to them though, for myself.” He said putting on his coat, he flicked the collar upwards to cover his cheeks and warm himself in the cold, he pushed the papers into his left pocket and started to leave the store.

A light ring from the bell signified his exit and one by one we all started to leave quietly waving to one another as we left. Me, Bradley, and the new Harold Green stayed behind while Brad described some of the past plays he’s written. The kid seemed generally interested and listened intently, this was a first time for him so far. Soon the kid was gone and I said my goodbye’s to Bradley and left the store, as I left I heard the bell ring behind me.

I walked down to my car parked a good four blocks away, while walking I saw twenty seven New York women with the infamous tan boots on, thirty eight people with an mp3 player and, most troubling of all. I saw forty nine homeless on my walk, it seemed the number increased sharply since my last coffee shop escapade. I ignored it and continued to the orange sedan parked near the small corner deli, ducks and slabs of meat hung in the window as if to show the horrors of our lives portrayed in one foul swoop, please do excuse the horrific pun.

I started the car and waited for the engine to heat up in the cold air, while I waited a large semi‘s poster showed it was carrying a large quantity of eco-friendly light bulbs. As it spewed black smog out of it’s exhaust pipes I could find no words to describe this irony and all I could do was laugh. I laughed for what seemed like thirty minutes, why I did this was unknown even to me. There was no joke, no humorous quip, or was there? I would find out the cruel joke at another time, but at the moment I put the car into drive and left the corner deli’s street.

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