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The Strange Happening at the Starbucks on the Corner
The funny thing about chaos and life spinning so completely out of control, is how absolutely unprepared you actually are. My life has been full of these moments. Blindsided by the outrageous, I’ve grown used to expecting the worst possible outcome. Call it intuition, but I had a terrible feeling about this whole night, and not quite so surprisingly, I was right.
I shoved my car door open, as the car slowed to steady roll. “Charlotte! Would you wait for me to stop!” my mom chirped from the driver’s seat.
“That wouldn’t be half as fun,” I answered back smugly.
She began to nag and rant. I sighed, as her impassioned words fell on weary ears. The car door slammed shut on the other side of the Ford Fusion. Seeing my golden moment to escape, I bid her a mumbled send-off. I’d pay for it later, like I usually do.
I crossed the creased and puckered asphalt, through the radiant gleam of headlamps, casting long spider-legged shadows into the crisp November night air.
Jaime stood, waiting, on the warped brick sidewalk. An amused smirk sketched her face. . Her ashen coat wrapped, tightly, around her, striving to shield her from the frigid wind. She fell into step with me Her Converses slapped against the frozen ground in an even beat. Her coiled dark hair bounced with each step. “You know, it’s really quite dangerous to open the door of a moving vehicle,” Her tone mocking.
“You’re about five seconds away from being pushed in front of a moving van.” I threatened.
Jaime choked and hiccupped with laughter. She glanced at me for reassurance that I was kidding. Meeting my steady gaze, she abruptly stopped.
Changing the subject, I asked, “So, where ya wanna go? We have about an hour till the show starts.”
“Ooo! Let’s go to Starbucks!” She exclaimed excitedly, obliviously not needing the extra caffeine boost.
“Why don’t we just walk around for awhile?” I suggested.
“Psh! That’s lame!” she replied, shooting down my offer. “’Sides it’s freezing!”
I couldn’t argue with that. The idea of drinking something, anything warm instantly melted any protests I had.
We turned the corner and arrived at the neighborhood Starbucks. We left the dashing city streets, filled with speeding cars and flashing stoplights, and entered the serene atmosphere of the coffee shop, filled with soft jazz and dim, soft spotlights. The artificially warm air beckoned Jaime and me into its embrace. Jaime bounded into the growing line of college students and soccer moms. “Should I get the Mocha Latte, or Carmel Cappuccino?” Jaime asked, bouncing her forefinger on her lip in thought.
“Neither. Try the Mint Hot Chocolate. Trust me. It’s divine!” I suggested.
I visibly watched her make her decision. With a series of barely audible mumbling and eyebrow wrinkling, she agreed to try it. Luckily, at that exact moment, it was our turn to order.
The barista behind the counter greeted us with smiling eyes behind thick, black design lenses. His many piercings in his ear caught the light and my attention with its sparkle. Jaime ordered the largest serving of Mint Hot Chocolate. She stepped back, and gestured me to speak to the hipster barista. I order a medium and handled the wrinkled bills to the barista.
After our order was served, Jaime beckoned me over to a table directly in the middle of the store. I weaved through the number of closer, empty tables to finally collapse into the hard wooden chair. Through the large glass window, the image of a bus pulling away from the corner caught my attention. A swarm of people flooded the minuscule store.
I watched as the strangest variety of people stepped out of the cold; an Asian man, a pair of tall blondes huddling close to together distress distorting their features, two college jocks listening to their iPods and yelling to each other, a mother and her squirming son, and a man talking quickly on his cell phone.
This man was quite perplexing. He had a pair of large, ruby headphones resting around his neck. He had a black worn looking jacket and a green, striped sweatshirt. He wore tan shorts on his thin, haggard legs. On his left leg, a dirt streaked soccer sock stretched to his knee. On the right leg, a short ankle sock barely made it above his torn tennis shoes.
As the man pasted behind me to reach the line, I caught a snippet of his conversation. “Yeah, I’m’ in the Coffee shop right now,” He chatted into the device.
“Charlotte!” Jaime snapped me back into attention.
“Sorry, but did you notice that guy?” I asked.
“Yeah, what a weirdo,” she answered.
A few moments later, a cop pushed through the glass doors. Thinking nothing of his presence, I turned back to Jaime’s story about her latest boy issue. “Please step outside, sir” I heard the officer say faintly behind me.
“I’m on the phone with my mother,” said a voice, I guessed was the strange man’s.
“Kindly hang up. I just need to ask you a few questions,” said the officer.
“Just go with him, man” I heard the barista insist. However, the man was stubborn.
“Fine, have it your way,” the cop began. He gestured to the two tall blondes and asked, “Have you been following these young ladies?” His question was answered with silence.
Jaime slowly began to realize what was going on. Her words began to slow and then stopped all at once. All that remained was the soft jazz and the escalating argument that was a few steps away from me.
Suddenly, I heard the strange man shout, “He’s trying to kill me!”
I watched Jaime’s dark brown eyes, grow wide. I turned slowly in my seat; just enough to realize the man was walking toward us. My heart sank into my stomach. The police officer stayed a few steps behind him, hand on his belt, warning, reminding, of a potential threat. I grabbed my cup and began to bite on the plastic lid, staring across into Jaime’s wide, frightened eyes. I began to pray the man would keep walking past, into the bathroom, to a table, anywhere!
However, as it always seems to go, luck was not on my side this night. The man slammed his palm on our table. My head snapped up into the face of the bizarre man. I felt his rapid, hot breath on my face. His crystal blue eyes pierced into my hazel eyes. I felt the cop’s presence disappear from behind me.
“Please, help me. Call my mother!” the man exclaimed, thrusting his phone at me.”He’s trying to kill me! He’s trying to kill me!”
I tightened my grip on my cup and peered at Jaime, who was staring wide eyed at the tabletop. The cop suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the table. “Sir, I don’t want to have to force you out. Please, just step outside,” the cop stated.
“I’m not going anywhere! It’s my right!” the man yelled back.
And, there Jaime and I were; in the middle of an argument between a psychopath and a police officer. The police officer muttered into his radio, as the man tried to order coffee, again. “So, I think there’s a table opens in the back corner, over there, “Jaime stammered, already rising out of her seat. I was dead on her heels, racing to get to the safety of the corner.
The other customers began to follow our lead and moved to the back corner. The massive crowd all packed into a corner, while the cop chased the man around the store. The brave barista offered to help.
“I’ll call 911 for you, officer.” he said, and then disappeared behind the back room. Thanks for leaving us here, I thought to myself.
Jaime began to talk to the mother and her son from the bus. Slowly, the conversation began to build back up in the store. Everyone was attempting to regain some normality.
About fifteen minutes later, brilliant cobalt and scarlet lights began to whip around the dimutative room. I sank lower in my timber chair, as I began to comprehend, this was far from over. I began to count the white cars that sped up onto the curb. Five cars had pulled up, as the first of the officers poured in to store. The mob of uniformed men began to move to the various doorways. They linked arms and stood in front of the entrances, bathrooms, backroom, and exit. The original officer cornered the man. The eccentric man realized he was trapped, and nobly gave up. The officers arrested him, right there at our old table, in the center of the room.
With a sigh of relief and a brief outbreak of applause, the police began to leave one by one. Seeing as the danger was gone, the valiant barista came out from his hide place, and continued as if nothing had happened. Looking at Jaime I asked,” So, you good? You got your coffee?”
Jaime responded with, “Let’s just go,”
I laughed as we trekked back into the windy, clear night. The theater was across the street. Its twinkling lights stretched like guiding stars toward us “I know it doesn’t matter; however, I would like to point out that was all your idea.” I said, smirking.
“You’re about five seconds away from being pushed in front of a moving van.” Jaime snapped back.
Park City, Utah
Manhattan, New York
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