“Another tea, sir?” she smiled at me and all I wanted to do is fetch my keys and carve my initials into her face. Who is she to taunt me as such with her pleasant attitude and perfect hair? Another community college failure too dim to prostitute herself to third-degree professors. “Yes, please.” I muttered with all the contempt a third-degree professor like me can hold.
My eyes wandered over the shelf above her head; the shelf I quite often find myself fantasizing falling down on her head and legislating her retardation. “Would you like to sample one of our coffees?” No, she doesn’t need that shelf for legislation; her mouth just did that for her. I believe my face contorted repulsively enough, for she quickly added “or maybe something for the missus?” Cocking my head to the side, I calmly replied, “as a person whose apartment is located adjacent to mine, you would know that since last December, I don’t possess a missus anymore. Even as an ex-missus, I doubt she’d appreciate some Kenyan coffee beans as a birthday present.” “Oh, but sir, I’m sure…” she blurted out in the collective energy of all Smurfs together before the Gargamel of realization hit her and to my bliss made her stammer with silence.
My yellowish eyeballs went back to glaze the infamous shelf with looks of disdain. How imbecilic; a mini United Nations summit of coffee beans celebrated in shiny ribbons and pseudo-classy italic font. Maybe it’s the aroma of coffee being ground, or the noose of dullness tightly clasped around my neck, but my language faculty intoxicated with hormones went into overdrive and yelped “make that a tall American coffee, please!”
It was 1989 calculus’ final all over again. The clicks and the clangs of the spoons against the cups subtly orchestrated Zeppelin’s Kashmir to my ears and I started humming along. Or is Kashmir my euphemism for arseless and infantile defiance? Maybe, because that defiance doesn’t really care if I chose Kashmir or Home Shopping Network’s theme song to sugarcoat it. I didn’t ask myself why I was doing this since the billboard “MIDLIFE CRISIS” was on the forefront of my consciousness.
Perfect hair bimbo, or in other words Steph, was not so subtle when taken aback. Instead of whispering to herself, she was gawking at me with mouth formations of “why?” and 7-year-old-girl-scout-like nods of disapproval. “Would you get it over with already?” I spat out. Kashmir was on replay in my head and I don’t like second comings. Ms. Not-so-teenage beauty queen finally arrived with my coffee with her fingers tied around it as if it was the physical incarnation of true love. “Stewart, please, why are you doing this? You know your body can’t handle it. It’s just coffee-” “-Exactly,” I cut her off, “just coffee. No reason why I should walk in apprehension every time I come in here. See, Steph, this thing in your hands,” I unclasped her fingers and took the Styrofoam cup, “is nothing but a whore in the dress of a Helena. Everyone here has been pleased by her; she made them experience ecstasies I am a stranger to. She prides herself that she can hurt me, deny me of her ‘godly’ or whatever divinity. Well, Steph…” I gulped down the coffee, feeling it scalding my mouth, pushing it down my throat, riding the wind-whirls it already set through my blood. “What’s the worst that can happen? Getting my stomach pumped?”
Staring at me with her pale blue eyes thinking of what to say she finally managed, “that was stupid, Stewart. Too stupid.” “Why do you care?” I said. “What does it matter to you if I drop dead right this instant?” “Because I have a heart. Because I’m human!” “No,” I answered, “it’s not that,” I grabbed her by the neck of her shirt, took what little remained of the whore – I mean the coffee – and poured it down her shirt, “it’s because unlike her, you’re a Helena in a whore’s dress, love.”