A place for thought.

Leave a comment

Question? (part three)

The rest of the morning went quietly, no more bombs went off. Sally answered a couple of questions about rain on days months away, dates people planned to put on invitations. She answered a silly question, the answer was just as silly, and she answered a thoughtful religious question. When the clock said eleven twenty five she put her paperback in the second drawer on the right side of the desk and from the top drawer she took out an oversized, green, purchased at Target, coffee cup. She took the elevator all the way to the ground floor but didn’t leave the building. She found her way to the coffee shop that opened into the building’s lobby and also opened to the sidewalk outside. She saw Toby behind the counter and smiled back at his wave. With Toby behind the counter she had no need to order, she set her cup on the counter where he could see and she sat down near a window to the street. She thought of nothing.
“Two shots and water to here,” Toby said, he mimicked her oft-repeated order as he pointed to a spot on her cup and sat it down on the small round table top..
“Thank you Toby. I need this,” she picked up the cup and took that first all-important sip.
“Is it going to rain?” Toby asked the question that made her coffee free.
“Nope, not today,” Sally answered with a grin and took another sip. “This is perfect,” she said showing the cup to Toby. “I know it’s the same either way but it’s just a lot better when you put the water in first and then the coffee, like you always do.” Toby did a little curtsey, not knowing what to say to the pretty girl he saw everyday but knew so little about, and headed back to his post behind the counter. Sally went back to thinking about nothing until eleven fifty five. She got up from her chair, waved to Toby and let the elevator take her up to her third floor office.
The afternoon started out slowly, she turned pages in her paperback book thinking she would need another book soon.
“The phone rang. “Answers. Hello,” she said. She listened as the caller went immediately into a detailed question. She pulled a yellow pad out of her desk’s center drawer, something she rarely did, and took notes while the caller continued. The call included well thought out and properly arranged particulars. He read from what had to be a written out question he had considered for some time. Sally took notes without speaking and the caller took it for granted that she listened. For five full minutes the man spoke and Sally listened. When the question was fully formed the phone line went silent.
“Are you still there?” the man asked.
“I’m here,” Sally said, after a moment more of silence.
“What do you think?” he asked, eager for an answer.
“I am,” Sally answered and went back to thinking.
“You are?” he questioned.
“I am thinking,” answered without taking her mind off the question. She broke free of her thoughts and added, “I have two things to think about,” she said.
“Can you answer my question?” he sounded urgent.
“I’m not sure I want to,” she answered. “I’ll get back to you at nine o one in the morning.” She hung up the phone. She copied the number on the phone’s digital screen to the bottom of the yellow pad and sat staring at the gray green wall. The phone rang several times but she let it ring. She refused to think of an answer to the man’s question. She wanted an answer to her own question first: should she give an answer to the man’s question?

Leave a comment


On the other side of the two gray aluminum framed glass doors she stood with one hand on a handle, deciding if she should come inside. She could see us on the inside as we sat and sipped our drinks. She could see plenty of empty chairs sitting next to empty tables; there would be room for her. She started to push the door open and then, in her disappointment she read the word “pull” in pasted black letters along the inside rim of the door. Disgusted she pulled and walked into the room where we all were. She glanced at the man sitting at one of the larger tables, all alone, he smiled, she did not.
“Americano,” she said to the guy behind the counter.
“Tall?” he asked, already punching some buttons on the register.
“Twelve ounce,” she answered. “In a house cup, please.”
“What’s that?” he questioned not knowing what button to push.
“Ceramic mug?” she explained. “Not paper or plastic,” she offered as additional help. He left, talked to a few people and came back with a white ceramic mug in his hand.
“May I have your name?” he asked.
“You may use it,” she responded.
“What was that?” he asked with his fingers paused over the keyboard.
“You may use it. I’m going to need it later so you can’t have it,” she waited to see if he was capable of understanding, without conformation she added, “it’s Sally.”
He typed, while typing the five letters he said, “That will be two dollars and fifteen cents.”
“What is it right now?” she asked. He did not respond but looked puzzled.
“You said it is going to be two dollars and fifteen cents, what is the price right now?” she asked.
“Two fifteen,” he answered without understanding. She walked to a table for two and sat looking out the smoked glass windows at a world that continued to spin.

Leave a comment

Somebody Call The Police!

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.

Leave a comment


“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.

Leave a comment

Flight 408 (part 5)

A simple, quiet, “tong,” wakes me up and I see Sally sitting at a wooden table in front of me with the pine trees covered in a light mist behind her. She has a bowl of something breakfasty in front of her and she’s taking a sip of coffee while she waits for me to completely wake up.

“Hey, Sal,” I rub my eyes and look myself over to see if I’m presentable. I stretch as the sofa releases me from its hold. “Follow me to the kitchen table,” I instruct Sally’s hologram and she follows me still sitting at her table in her apartment and lines her table up with mine so we can have our breakfasts together.

“Coffee,” I say to the kitchen and a gurgle starts inside my food dispenser. “What time is it?” I ask and as Sally answers, “morning” the computer says, “ten-forty-five”.   I bring my coffee cup to the table and inform the computer, “I’m talking to Sally,” without this instruction it would answer every question that might come up in our conversation (computers aren’t half as bright as people think).

“Got any plans?” Sally asks with her cup held up to her lips with both hands so I can just see her eyes above the rim.

“Going to sleep till noon,” I give her a sleepy grin, “that’s shot.”

“I could go,” she knows I’d rather talk to her.

“Stay, I got plenty of sleep. What are you eating?”


“Computer, a bowl of oatmeal,” I wait to hear the sounds of a bowl of oatmeal being produced and hear nothing. “Computer! A bowl of oatmeal please!”

“You talking to me?” the computer asks politely.

“You know I am, a bowl of oatmeal please,” the sounds of my oatmeal being put together can be heard inside the processor.

“I thought you were talking to Sally,” the computer explains. The computer lies.

“I think some software problems have developed in my home computer,” I tell Sally, the computer produces a big stage sigh but chooses not to say anything.

“I was thinking a walk in the park, maybe feed the ducks?” I set my oatmeal down at the real end of the table and stir in the sugar that was sprinkled on the top. I take a small test first bite, making sure the computer didn’t do anything to get even. The oatmeal seems fine.

“I was thinking, watch the game and snack,” Sally has a thing for the out-of-doors, which is kind of weird for a pilot.

Leave a comment


The day began like any day begins, the world spun until the edge of the closest star lit the edges of the mountains and then when, as the full ball of flame became visible, the sky turned from dark to light blue.

“Sun’s up! Get out of that bed! Work to be done while the sun shines!”

Shut-up!” I thought. “I’m up,” I said. I pulled on the pants lying on the floor next to the bed, smoothed out the tee shirt I had slept in and padded in bare feet in the direction of the bathroom.

“Hurry up in there, I’ve got to get!” I pushed the toothbrush into my mouth to keep it from speaking. I was starting to feel a little bit better. A person should have at least ten minutes before making words is necessary, twenty minutes with the second ten spent sipping coffee would be even better. What kind of world would it be if everyone got twenty minutes of their own every morning?   I finished up in the room of special facilities and avoided human contact until I had the Mr. Coffee performing its function.

“We haven’t got time for that!”

“There is always time for this,” I replied quietly and poured the black life into one of my three favorite mugs. The first sip tells all. The first sip tells if the measure of coffee to water to heat is right. If the first sip is right the day will go well. I took a sip – a fair day, not perfect but I’d be able to deal with it.

“What if we got there fifteen minutes late?” It was the wrong thing to say but the coffee wasn’t perfect either.

“Bring that with you, we’re leaving.” I had to follow. There’s only the one car. Drinking coffee in a car is a perversion.




Leave a comment

Four Years Old

An old tin coffee pot, bigger at the bottom to catch more of the blue flame, a tight fitting lid with a glass knob in the center, sits on a black cast iron grate on top of a white porcelain stove. The flames curl around the base and blacken the curved edges, it gurgles. Matching mugs are set on a red and white-checkered oilcloth that protects a wooden table top, one mug in front of each of the two blonde wood chairs. She cuts two slices of homemade bread and puts them into the slots at the top of the toaster. The room, still unaffected by the early morning sun, is dimly lit by a single bulb hanging from a cloth-covered cord connected to the plastered ceiling above the table. I watch the blue flames lick the sides of the coffee pot. The pot chugs once more and then again until it finds a regular beat for its perking. The toast pops from the toaster and receives a coat of butter and a resting place on a saucer on the table. She pours the coffee into the mugs, a full cup for her, a half-cup for me.   She is thin, with long silver gray hair tied tightly in a bun. She moves slowly across the small kitchen which is also the dining room and bedroom. The time between our births was seventy-one years; I am young she is old. She gets a quart bottle of milk from the refrigerator, pulls the pog and pours my cup almost full, mostly with the cream that has risen to the top of the milk. Just a level teaspoon of sugar, she places, I stir. Warm, light, sweet, brown liquid waits while she prays for the new day. I watch her mouth as she makes words quietly, she speaks to God not to me and He can hear her whispers. Finished with her prayer she cuts my toast into five strips and takes a sip of her black coffee. I dip a strip of toast into my light brown mixture and take my first bite.