Coffee StainA Story by Victoria Scott
A short story about first and lasting impressions almost.
Nothing is more inspiring than the delicate aroma of a coffee shop and the atmosphere it presents as one can simply watch the comings and goings of the most distinct characters ever perceived by the human eye. If one is very observant they can distinguish the exact character of a person simply by the coffee they drink, an underrated art most definitely forgotten in the modern era of technology, still one can often locate an elderly gentlemen seated in the far corner of every coffee shop and observe him as he still contains the simple art of enjoying life as he once did as a child.
This man leans far back into the dark armchair in which he now presides and closes his sagging eyelids as he inhales the magnificent scent of his hazelnut coffee, the gentle wisps flooding into the air. He takes a sip of the coffee and spits it out comically as he realizes it is still very hot. He mops up his mess and looks about to see if anyone has noticed before leaning back once more and letting out a hearty laugh at himself. Not one person even averted their eyes to look upon such a character, but reveled in the thrill of technology and the same adventures it presents in watching other people live their lives and never motivated enough to live their own.
After he had cooled down his coffee enough to be semi-bearable he lay back again and watched the scene about him, the quiet serenity was depleted in peace when he realized it was only because this was a social hotspot for wifi and nothing more. He was caught up in his general thoughts when the sharp sound of commotion overtook his attention and he stood up and looked around the wall that divided the sitting area of the coffee shop from the bar from which you order.
He looked on in pure curiosity as a young man stood up in excitement and cried out in pain, the older gentlemen looked on and was able to make out an overturned coffee mug and a few drips that fell from the table onto the oaken floor.
“Are you kidding me?!” the man cried out. He grabbed at his hand and cursed loudly in pain, for once all eyes in the coffee shop turned from their dreary existence upon him.
A tall man, of about forty, burst through the door that led into the kitchen area and roared,
“What’s going on?!”
The younger man, who looked only about mid twenties, must have established courage from the pain for he walked right up to the almost frightening man and said straight into his face.
“Your waitress decided it’d be a splendid idea to dump fricken coffee on me, and not just that but it ruined my notepad!” the man was almost grieved as he said the last part.
The manager was stoic, which was even more frightening,
“Linda!” he called towards the instigator who cowered in the corner, the woman, who was really rather old, appeared obediently but averted her eyes from the younger man’s face.
“Now Linda,” the manager put his arm about her shoulder, “Did you mean to spill this young man’s coffee on him?”
“No sir.” She quivered creating a rather pitiful sight.
“I am so sorry.” She said towards the younger man. She immediately went to mopping it up, and the old man looking from behind the wall shook his head about the whole thing and felt a sad tinge in his heart as a small tear slipped down her weathered cheek. The young man’s temper was cooled and he nodded in recompense towards the manager who disappeared behind the door. The older woman finished cleaning up the mess then turned towards him,
“I can make you another coffee absolutely free.”
“Ok.” Said he.
“Same as before.”
“Didn’t I already tell you when you first took my order?” the older woman blushed and looked away,
“I..I suppose I forgot.” She trembled.
“It’s fine, Landon’s my name.” he said turning from her. She nodded her head and ran back into the kitchen to possibly cry and make new coffee at the same time. The older man appeared completely from around the corner and with a burst of courage which even elderly people still need to obtain he approached the youth.
“Hi.” Landon replied, unsure of what to do.
“May I?” the old man asked motioning towards the empty chair across from the youth.
The youth nodded.
“I am Ernest by the way.” Said the older man extending his hand.
The youth took it and with a nod said, “Landon.”
“Good to meet ya, Landon.”
“Yah.” Was the only reply.
“I overheard what happened.”
“Not surprised. Ridiculous ain’t it? I mean honestly if a woman can sue Mcdonald’s for millions of dollar for spilling coffee on herself then why don’t I fricken sue this establishment.” Landon slammed his fist on the table then winced as he realized it was the one that was burned.
“May I?” asked Ernest, motioning for the youth’s hand.
Landon awkwardly stretched out his hand towards the older gentleman whom he did not know. Ernest took hold of it gently and turned it this way and that, observing it.
“It’s a good one all right.” He chuckled.
“Thank you, I’m glad you think so, what you don’t realize is that it hurts like hell.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sure it does. You should run it under cold water.”
“Thankfully I’m not five, I can deal with it.”
“Must be brave, not many people can deal with hell.” The old man chuckled out loud at his own joke. The youth eyed him incredulously.
“What’s the notebook for?” Ernest asked him.
“Writing, I’m a writer.”
Ernest eyed him wearily. He noticed the smudges of ink upon the man’s hands, the way his hair flew in all sorts of directions with its disheveled state. His clothes were unkempt and had stains upon them, now completely wrecked by the rather large coffee stain upon his shirt. He did have a handsome youthful face though. Ernest noticed the young dark headed girl in the corner looking in the youth’s direction. Ernest smiled to himself as the youth didn’t notice.
“A writer eh, what sort of things do you write?” Landon shifted uncomfortably at Ernest’s questions, but he answered all the same since he didn’t wanted to be rude in extremity.
“Oh you know, the normal stuff.” He shrugged.
“Do I look like I understand what “normal stuff” means?” Ernest laughed. It was Landon’s turn to study him. Ernest looked about sixties. His face had deep creases and was surprisingly tan, it made Landon wonder what kind of business he used to run, maybe farmer. The most wrinkles were contained about his mouth, offering clear signs that that mouth never seemed to know a day where it needed to frown, that no matter what it always held a genuine smile.
“Maybe not. Just the sort of things that people like now days.”
“Which would be?”
“I don’t know, I guess vampires, murder, gore, haunting, war, sexuality, romance…”
“Do you like writing stuff like that?”
“Look I don’t even know you…”
Ernest held his hand out in defense.
“Whoa, it’s ok, you’ll probably never even see me again, just consider me an interested party, I don’t meet many writers and I’m just interested.” He smiled; his teeth were old and yellow.
Landon eyed him a little wearily but continued,
“Yah, I mean I suppose I do.”
“You sound unsure.”
“Well it’s what people like.”
“But it’s not what you like?”
“I don’t know maybe not.”
“Then why do you write it?” The old man was leaning back his arms crossed, he wasn’t being rude or attacking he was just asking simple questions. It was all in innocent curiosity but it was really beginning to irk Landon.
“I write it because it sells.”
Ernest nodded his head in understanding.
“Do you feel good about yourself when you write things like that?”
“I don’t feel bad. I just more or less feel like I could do better. I envy the classics, the way, back then, how they actually had quality things to write about.”
“What do you mean? There are plenty of quality things to write about.”
“Like what?” the youth challenged.
“People. The men and woman who wrote the classics didn’t have subjects they wrote that had to do with the age they lived in; it was all about people, the way they lived, who they were, what they became by their choices.”
“But ‘people’ don’t sell.” He stated flatly.
“You can convince yourself of it, but if you want to write a genuinely fantastic novel write about things that matter, people matter. They matter the most, and it’s never a cliché because each person has a different story, you just have to look and see.”
“That’s great and all, it really is, but at the end of the day it’s not going to provide for my fiancé.”
“Ok. But let me tell you something, to make a classic, you have to have a classic story. Why would a writer write for anything less than for one day hoping that in fifty years people will still be talking about that book?”
Landon nodded his head in understanding; a sudden rush of idea flooding into him, characters young and old, their stories already piecing together in his mind.
“Thank you.” He said simply to the old man and stood up to leave. Linda, the waitress, was just now coming out with the coffee in her hands. She handed it to him.
“I’m so sorry.” She said again.
“No harm done.” He walked past her and threw out the coffee drenched notebook and turned and smiled at the old man before opening the glass door and heading out into the warm summer air, the coffee stain still prominent on his shirt.
© 2012 Victoria Scott
Added on July 18, 2012
Last Updated on July 18, 2012
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