A plain day, in-between things, no events to mark it, nothing assigned to it. When you walk outside and cannot tell if it is hot or cold or if you should leave town or stay. I sat for a while, like sitting in a void or one of those sensory chambers the dopers used to go into during the sixties.
“There’s only one way out,” he waited for a reply, hoping he was wrong. No one replied.
“On three?” still thinking an alternative might present itself before the deadline.
“On three or where four should be?” at last a friend who understood the need for procrastination.
“On three, right as we say three. He had thought that would be easy enough to understand,” he sounded impatient but he was anything but.
“Don’t get in a huff,” added the procrastinating friend. “Just didn’t want to be standing here all alone waiting for where four should be and everyone left on three, that’s all.”
‘“There, you just said it, “on three,”’ this guy was really starting to bug. “How hard could it be?”
“Just making sure, don’t get dandruff all over your shirt.”
“Just an expression.”
‘“No it’s not, you just made it up and it doesn’t make a lick of sense,” he was thinking, “this guy needs to shut up and soon.”’
“Hey, look over there!”
“Another way!” all the tension just drained away. “Okay guys, follow me.”
Their motorcycles were leaning at the front door; close enough to need notice but far enough away not to be a real nuisance. The two of them, in uniform with utility belts and holstered guns gave the intended impression of being comfortably sprawled in two wooden chairs but it was a lie, they were nervous. They watched, using peripheral vision, as I avoided the fly blower at the door and walked away from them and toward the ordering counter.
“Tall Americano.” I stated flatly. My speech was unnecessary the girl behind the counter had already written David on my paper cup. I gave her three dollars and put the change in the tip cup. I took my preferred seat in the corner and scanned the room, looking through the uniforms as if their chairs were empty. I settled my stare a foot to the right of the tallest officer and focused on a parking lot light standard two hundred feet through the spring drizzle, a drizzle that had the parking lot shining black and reflecting every light. The tall officer looked at me, thinking he was returning my stare, but when he realized I wasn’t looking at him he turned away too quickly, embarrassed. I allowed a hint of a smile, like the light standard had done something to please me. I listened to their conversation as they tried to make small talk, pretending they were not bothered by my presence. One kept referring to working out and having been in the Marines the other didn’t take the hint and told a story about his mother and what a truly caring woman she was. I grew tired of their conversion and concentrated more on what I was writing and on sipping my Americano. I’ll check my FaceBook page even though none of my “friends” are awake yet. I’ll finish what’s in my cup and leave the men in blue to their break.
“Sorry about that.”
“We took a little longer than usual.”
“Didn’t even notice.”
“Well, there you go.”
Some places put the water in first. Other places put the coffee in first. It’s pretty much the same but I prefer for the water to go in first, the coffee makes a nice layer of tiny light brown bubbles when the coffee is on top. It’s not just visual, it smells better too.