Just A Bite of Coffee and Ice Cream

Photo © 2006 HD41117 CC 2.0 BY NC SA

Her great claim to fame was that she failed Freshman English Lit. Twice.

How is it even possible to fail English Lit? Think about it. This is a course that has no real requirements, save that you show up and say something. Yes, you’re supposed to read the novel that everyone else is also reading. But lesser students had squeaked by on the Cliff Notes, or even outright faking it.

Even so, she managed to fail English Lit. Twice. And so ended her college career.

She promptly moved back in with her parents. She discussed the situation with them only in sketches. Her father asked her what she was going to do now. She replied that she didn’t know, which was the truth. He quietly accepted her answer. He didn’t seem upset. He seemed a little worried.

She took a service-industry job at a local ice-cream-and-coffee place, promptly proving her klutziness. She was constantly getting ice-cream flavors mixed up, or putting half-and-half in a customer’s coffee instead of milk. When her boss asked her to wipe down the counter, she promptly sprayed cleaning fluid all over the lemon sorbet. This made him none too happy and earned her a sharp rebuke. She couldn’t even pour a fruit smoothy without fucking it up— spilled it all over the floor.

As she is returning from the back with a mop and pail, the last customer of the morning rush walks out. The place is empty except for Dawn, her coworker, who says, “Don’t worry about him. He’s an ass.”

“Who?”

“Samson.” That’s her boss.

“He gives everyone a hard time,” Dawn says. “I think he’s trying to compensate for other inadequacies.” Dawn makes a humping motion with her hips.

The girl turns her attention to the puddle of strawberry-red liquid with melting chunks on the floor and begins to sop up what she can with the mop.

Dawn continues. “He even once scolded Tom… the owner. Have you met him?”

The girl shakes her head, no.

“Big guy, dark hair… Anyhow, you’ll meet him eventually. Pretty easy going. You’ll like him. Anyhow, Samson chews him out, right in front of a customer.” Takes a moment to grin. “I’ve never seen Tom’s face turn that color before. He takes Samson into the back for a private chat. That was actually kinda fun.”

A pause, with the slurp of the mop occasionally interrupting the adult-contemporary playing in the background.

“Has he made a pass at you yet?” Dawn asks.

No, he hasn’t. She’s not even worthy enough to be sexually harassed.

“My first day here, he pinches my ass and starts flicking his tongue at me. Says it’s a demonstration of his ah-bil-ah-TAYz.”

Dawn so flawlessly imitates Samson’s inflection, when he’s trying to sound cool, that the girl can’t help but giggle. She stops her mopping for a moment and turns to Dawn. Soberly, “Did you report him?”

“No. I actually kind of like holding it over him.” Then Dawn changes her tone. “But don’t let that stop you. If you want to get him, I’ll stick up for you.” There’s just a drop of vitriol in her voice.

No, the girl shakes her head. “He hasn’t done anything to me.” Sadly.

A pause.

“He’s probably intimidated by you,” Dawn says. “You’re too good looking, out of his league. He’s probably afraid your family has an army of lawyers or something. I wouldn’t mind that,” without missing a beat, “seeing him taken down a few pegs. I don’t even know why Tom keeps him around. He does drugs, doesn’t work. He’s probably out back toking up right now.” Stares at the ceiling, thoughtful. “Don’t think he’s related. Tom must owe his family or something.”

The girl laughs. Something about the way Dawn said it must have struck her funny. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I didn’t mean to laugh.”

“No, that’s okay,” Dawn says. “You gotta maintain your sense of humor around here.” Dawn is smiling.

“Actually, the job isn’t that bad. It’s just Samson, that’s all. I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong idea. I didn’t mean to unload on you.”

“What’s so wrong about that?” the girl asks.

A customer arrives. But before serving him, Dawn says, “Would you like to grab a bite after work?” Then almost as an afterthought, she adds, “You know, you’d make a good shrink.”

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Comments

Hadn’t been here in a while, so missed this one. I like it. I’d like to hear more about these characters, actually. Seems like a decent start to a female buddy movie or something.

Wow. Thanks, Jim. I threw this story together in a couple hours. I had not written a story that Friday, and so I scrambled to get one to post. Really cool. Sometimes, I guess, pressure can loose the creativity and allow inspiration to strike. -TimK

Aww, I love this one. Simple and to the point. Great characters too.

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