She keeps looking, staring, wanting some acknowledgment. I just want to escape.

“Super extra plus, Tom.”

Only 6 more hours of this and I can go and train. Perhaps a 4 hour session with a heavy bag will drain me of dread.

She stares, waiting. I begrudgingly capitulate in the throes of cappuccino boredom.

“Hello. How are you?”

The soft, saggy candy lights up, smiling like she has heard from an old friend. We have been friendly, when I have served her coffee previously. Nothing deep. Nothing real. I usually nod and imagine how attractive she was 10 years ago, before her large chestiness started heading down to compete with the lumps popping out in the mid of her physique. Clearly, there was an age when she was quite a sweet and succulent package of tasty delightness.

“It's been a tough weekend.”

Nooooooooooo! I don't care! It's your life, do whatever the hell you want with it. Please, just keep me out of your world. Please! Please. Please? But those are words not spoken. The kindness that is true and discouraging was all that escaped. “I am sorry to hear that.”

“Short, fat vanilla for Loud Linda.”

Oops. Linda was her name, Loud Linda was our nickname for her. She took her coffee, pouting.

“My husband was arrested. Did you see it on the news?”

“What are you waiting for?” God, let's move her drink to the front of the line.

“Don't worry, I'm in no hurry.”

I smile, becoming anxious like a trapped animal preparing to gnaw off a limb. I might have to kill to escape.

“He lost his job last year. Then he became addicted to the painkillers he was taking for his back. And then yesterday he threatened to kill himself. In front of the kids, can you believe that?”

It's got to be one of these.

“Tall, non-fat caramel, extra whip, double. Susan.”

This has to be hers. Come on...Yes!

“Thank you.”

She picks up her cup and steps closer to the counter to continue our insipid conversation.

“Noooooooooooooooooo!” my mind shouts, while I simply smile.

“Chai latte. Barry.”

Another friendly pick-up.

“I don't really know what to do. He's a good dad, he just seems to be having problems now. Pretty much ever since he lost his job he has been having problems. Then about a month ago he went crazy when he found out I was chatting with an old friend, an old boyfriend. He's just losing it.”

What?! The ears were focused. She wants sympathy? Just a couple of details to flesh out.

“What sent him over the edge yesterday?” I asked, trying to sound matter-of-factly calm.

“I don't know. Even though we are living together, I have been telling him it's over, but when I didn't come home one night, he went crazy.”

What?! She didn't come home? Just a few more details...

“Must be tough for the children. How old?”

“7 and 9. The boys adore him, but its not going to work.”

“So he knew you when you were in your prime?”

She blushed. “We met right after high school. I've only had one other boyfriend, that was my high school sweetheart.”

“The one you have been 'chatting' with?”


Evil. It is everywhere. When its form is physical in manifestation and presentation, battle is sweet and pure, but all too often evil is clothed in kindness, innocence and naivete. Apparently, this evil wanted absolution from the coffee guy...unfortunately for her, she encountered the wrong coffee guy.

“This is all soooo horrible,” I dripped with thick sarcasm. “Were you very good at math in school?”

“No, why?”

“Well, we've got a 1+1=2 problem here that is clearly beyond the rudimentary skills you acquired early on, so I am wondering how to approach my response.”

A glaze washed her aging face.

“It is interesting how both of these men knew you when you were in your prime. You know, us men being visual creatures, we love beauty we once captured, seeing it as it was forever, in our dreams and fantasies.”

She started to say, “Thank you,” but brought the cup to her mouth, not sure if she was being complimented. She needed to be disarmed.

“Would you like to hear a similar story about a cousin?”

“Yes,” she said too excitedly about the subject change.

“Soy, sugar-free, cocoa. Fred.”

“Well, the cousin had a rather large inheritance. She was married when she was rich, young and beautiful. She had a couple of kids; a bout of severe postpartum depression; gained weight; and, was swindled out of her inheritence by her mother.”

“That's horrible.”

“While she was going through all of that, her husband decided to take up with another woman, who was young, beautiful and well-off.”

“How horrible.”

“Really? You think so?” I was unable to stop myself from asking.

“Absolutely. Her husband didn't need to do that when she was going through all that.”

“Really?” I had to say again, shocked at evil's ignorance.

“Well, it gets worse. Her husband left her and took the kids. She loved those kids more than anything, the only thing. It surprised no one when she ODed and died.”

“How sad.”

“Yes. But it is going to get worse.”

“How, she's dead?”

“I am going to see that he pays the price for his deeds, that he suffers.” This was not a response she anticipated, and became appropriately uncomfortable.

“Your husband is down on his luck, struggling with his worth as a man with his job and his worth as a human with his pained body. He is down. And a woman he sees as beautiful and the world sees as long past—unlike that woman over there who has 10 years on you and somehow has the perfect figure of a 27 year old—has decided to kick him aside and find the only other man who remembers her as a young beauty, and who has not had to put up with the day-to-day living with a retard.”

Finally, she is willing to leave, silently taking a step back. But the honorable words of helpful wisdom were not complete.

“If you would like my help, if you truly care about your husband in any way, send him my way for advice. I will guide his choice and let him know of the beauty that exists, of the loving women who are beautiful inside and out and that he does not have to destroy himself because you want to play games and have men fight over an archaic vision of yourself. He has seen the ugly, now I can teach him he and your children deserve more than a needy whore. Of course, only if you are interested in helping him.”

She turned, quietly walking away with her head down.

“You really are just like my cousin's husband, so I don't understand why you felt bad for her, though I could understand why you would say you feel bad for her.”

But she was out the door.

“Dude, that was rude, calling her a whore.”

“Did you hear the whole story?” I asked before deciding whether or not to jump over the counter and vent my frustration with evil by pummeling this carrier of a timid voice with paper cups and swizzle sticks.

“No, but...”

“Then shut-the-f...heck-up,” I whispered forcefully, in less than fashionable goodness. The ignorance of a citizenry so unwilling to see their reflection was soiling the good side of my darkening soul. “Shut-the-fuck-up,” I whispered to myself.

Taking my pain, the agony of dreams destroyed, a gentle voice of generous candy whispered in the kindest way, “Take a break.”

I turned and looked into her soft, fresh young face. “You are good. Thanks.”

She smiled, warmly, generously. “Sometimes, love breaks my heart.”

“There is no other kind,” I replied.

We looked at each other, absorbed in the moment, leaving the rest of the world as an audience to our connection.

“You don't belong here.”

“I know. But for now, apparently, this is where I am supposed to be.”

She wrapped her arms around me, calming my with her sweet, chewy goodness.

“Hey, isn't this a coffee shop? Where is my damn coffee?”

The calm disappeared.

I took off my apron as she prepared Mr. Impatient's coffee, and headed toward the exit for a break, but I could not let it go.

“Be patient, it's a virtue.”

“Fuck off!”

I closed my eyes, forcing myself to calm.

“Back off!” he shouted, shoving me.

His shove made me feel better.

“Thank you. I'll be outside and I can tell you about the perfect girl for you...and we can discuss things, like your shove...and beauty...and feeling alive, and doing the right thing, or the wrong thing. It is going to be a beautiful conversation.”

Mouthing something from behind the counter, she of kind calmness caused me to focus on her luscious moving lips.

“Let it go,” she mouthed respectfully, calmly, releasing the claims of the world.

She was right. I do not care about Mr. Impatient. I would rather save that ignorantly evil woman's husband from letting himself be destroyed by her, and there is one way of doing that: I have to let him know that sometimes life is really, really hard and it feels like you are drowning in the urine and feces filled bowels of an outhouse, but tomorrow is not yet written. Survive today, giving life the best of what you have, even if it taunts you to find the worst in yourself and become that which are were never meant to be. Choose to smile at the absurdity of the wounds inflicted by a stupid old whore, even though you bleed. Choose to feel the pain, and survive, because then you are open to the joy. Choose to be better than your circumstance, no matter what it may be.

Life is hard.

Life is beautiful.

Life is.

You are.

I am.

Life is hard.

Oh well, how boring it would be if it were easy, and boring is truly for the dullards.

Life is.

Why expect more?


To hell with circumstance.


I can taste tomorrow. There is a tinge of bitterness, but there is more...a flavor I long for...yes...something more...