This fictional writing contains graphic depiction and language that may not be suitable for younger readers. Discretion is advised.
August 17, 2013
She was average height with long, straight blonde hair with ends cut in a perfectly straight line. Her tanned skin, slender build, and a t-shirt dress with scarf and flip flops told me she was probably from the East side, cruising around in a Jeep Wrangler financed by Daddy and ordering a tall skinny vanilla latte because, well, it was the only coffee drink she had ever tried.
“Can I just get, like, a regular vanilla latte- skinny- with no whipped cream?” she asked, eyes glued to her cell phone, “But I’m, like, on a diet so the least amount of white stuff you put in there the better.”
There it was, proof that I was psychic after she ordered a tall skinny vanilla latte. Or maybe it was just the fact that every young white girl coming in here had the same story.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Gracie,” she replied.
Of course it is.
After about fifty orders of lattes, mochas, expressos, and ice blended beverages, I had had enough of De Leche for tonight. All of these kids enjoying a pretend coffee date on a warm, pleasant Saturday night had me rethinking my career choice. Why couldn’t I be lucky enough to enjoy Saturday nights off? Why couldn’t I be like Jose on first shift who was always a gleaming pile of sunshine each day as he left, which happened to be the start of my shift? Oh, that’s right, because I always get the shit end of the stick, that’s why.
“Adam!” I called as I slid a chai tea latte across the pick up counter. I wiped a few stray hairs out of my face with my forearm as I turned around to the register to take in the next order.
He was there, standing attentive in front of the register. His grey polo shirt with black stripes snug against his biceps just as his uniform had been. His shirt was completely tucked into his jeans, unlike Ben who had spiced his look up with the “tuckle”. Officer Thomas wasn’t like Ben at all. He was alert, stern, and serious, but with a hint of spice and hidden humor.
“What can I get you?” I asked.
“I don’t know, what’s good here?” he said with a blank face. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or just playing around.
“Well, what do you like? Coffee? Tea? Expresso?”
“I guess just give me a coffee,” he said, obviously not willing to take advice even though he had just asked for it.
“Ok, $2.79,” I said as I held my hand out.
“Damn, this is robbery,” he said, quickly realizing he had made the wrong choice of words, “By the way, still no luck on our guy. Or your bracelet.”
In the few days since the robbery, I had tried my best to forget about the bracelet. The wound of the missing bracelet was deep, and his attempt at helping me by keeping me informed only twisted the knife. I said nothing as I took his money and poured his coffee.
“Officer Thomas!” I called, placing his coffee on the pick up counter.
“You never asked my name,” he said as he reached for his coffee and a sleeve.
“Because I know its Officer Thomas,” I replied.
He giggled as he said, “Most people just call me Brandon.”
“I’m not most people,” I said as I turned back to the register to help the next customer.
I had long forgotten about Officer Thomas- Brandon- in the hour that proceeded after our conversation. De Leche was unusually busy, even for a Saturday, and I was drained from a night of hard work. I removed my apron and tossed it in De Leche’s designated bin for barista aprons. My work bestie, Jessa, stopped me before I went through the employee exit.
“Hey, who’s that guy?” she asked, curious.
“The one that’s been sitting over there staring at you for the past hour,” she said.
I hadn’t noticed that Officer Thomas had been sitting at the corner table, sipping slowly on his regular coffee and tinkering around on an iPad Mini since our conversation. I was even less aware of the fact that he was watching my every move as I fulfilled each tween’s icy beverage order, just as I always did on Saturday nights. I did notice, however, that he had packed up his belongings and tossed his empty coffee cup in the trash just as Jessa had asked about him.
Officer Thomas walked over to the edge of the counter. “Hey, can I walk you home? Dangerous out here at night,” he said, like I didn’t already know about the dangers of our crime-ridden city.
Jessa raised her eyebrows at me and smiled, “Call me later so you can explain this.”
It was a short walk back to my loft, a mere three blocks, but at 10:00 pm on a Saturday night, I welcomed the company, even if it was Mr.-No-Personality-Thomas. We didn’t talk much on the walk back except for him to ask me how long I had been a barista. I told him I had previously worked in an old record store prior to De Leche, which would explain all of the musical memorabilia adorning the walls in my loft.
“Does your wardrobe only consist of band t-shirts and skinny jeans?” he asked, laughing.
“Pretty much,” I laughed, too.
“Well, you still look sexy in a Nirvana shirt.”
I paused, tapping the button on the street light for the crosswalk signal. I didn’t normally respond well to flirtatious comments, especially one that seemed so off-hand for someone so reserved, so the only words I could manage to get out were, “Thank you.”
As we approached the steps to my apartment, I thanked him for walking me home. He thanked me for the coffee and the company. I climbed the steps to my door and turned to him to wave goodbye when he interrupted.
“I’ll see you soon,” he said, then headed to his car that was parked across the road.
What a curious thing. Why didn’t he park at De Leche?