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A Saturday Evening at the Coffee Cottage

It was not really the rain that Lars was concerned about, but rather the idea of passing
through it, acting as if it had really disturbed him, or that he disliked it. It wasnt the nights
doorstep, or the encroaching gray of dark, no, but the tap-tap-tap upon the window, the
exhausted thoughts of an aged ambition. He thought, but idly, as he watched the raindrops slowly
slide down the windowpane, brushing against the windowpane, as they watched him all the while
watched him sip his coffee, regard the time on his small wristwatch, and look up in silent
resignation. It was not necessarily a hateful look, or an angry one, but rather one that sat simply
on his nose, eyes, and lips, content with itselfsatisfied with its own existenceneeding not to
spill out onto others selfishly or spread its wonton germ to the attention of a kindred cerebration.
Lars had always liked to think of light as music. The one in this coffee shop was a sloshy,
simplistic symphonyperhaps one of Mozarts early works?that clashed hazily in a nebulous
border with the outdoor lighting that was most certainly a melancholy piano sonata, perhaps
joined by a string quartetand maybe a flute, but perhaps that was too much. Perhaps the strings
would suffice. Lars pictured it now, hearing its melody, and almost hummed alongalmost. Its
that certain uneasiness that arrested him on the crossing point of his own mind and the space
around him. It seemed almost there, in the flesh, as it were, yet so dangerously intangible and
invisible to all senses but that hidden, inner sense that we all possess, some deeper than others.
The walls were a pleasing rusty tan color. Lars did like them. There were solid, yet soft to
the eyes at the same time. Lars thought perhaps it was because of the paintings placed liberally
around the room of a mix of modern and impressionist styles. The grandfather clock and the
wheat-colored shelves on which books reclined idly or plants sat proudly were other possibilities.
But one painting stood out; it was of a man looking upon a river, far away. Yes, he would not be
disturbed in his trance-like gaze. Lars remembered and looked at his watch. It was two minutes
too fast, but Lars never bothered to change ithe had gotten used to it anyway. As he looked
down, however, he caught glimpse of the steam slowly escaping his coffee mug. Transfixed, Lars
locked his entire existence onto this perception, hung it upon the reaching fingers of reality.
He watched the way the steam rose up in wisps falling away into obscurity after a couple
of inches of its short, sweating breath. But it wasnt so much the wisps falling, but reaching, as if
the steams sole goal was to brush the skies with its warm, blinking mystery, and it was only that
its passion had eluded it too soon, in the midst of one lengthy stride. But how did the coffee feel,
losing its water to such wayward desires and passions? How would it react, or sit still; what
would it say to its adolescent evasion of existence in its boiled, brown, and beany stew? What
does the coffee think?
But questions are futile when no answer is to be given. Lars looked around the coffee
shop. Near the windowpane, he sat alone at his petite circular table, by which two other chairs
were drunkenly standing, and looked on to count seven more tables completely emptythat
same strewn expression of the chairs. But at one table across from the roomas far as one could
go from where Lars was sitting, in factwas a young German couple that spoke of fishing, or at
least that was what Lars imagined. He could not hear them, and they were difficult to see clearly
but he watched all the same. The bearded man farther away was smiling, red faced, with short
but thick black hair. His eyes were likely brown. He wore a thick grey sweater (the color of a
thundercloud) over some sort of superficial brown material and simple blue jeans, but a dark

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color, as if stained or imprinted by some unremembered conscience. His shoes were leather
moccasinshardly the most efficient for this weather (at which thought Lars imagined turning
back to look outside, but instead fixated on the other person sitting by this man).
This person had their back turned toward him and Lars could not determine their gender,
but he did not care. He instead watchednot looked atbut watched in the same amount of
time this persons red rain jacketa bright red, a red red, indeedthat watched him back, and
this persons outstretched legs in the same sort of jeans, but wearing a more appropriate pair of
leather boots, or at least this was Larss guess. Their hair was a dark, deepening-by-the-minute
brown, and their gesticulations and general body movements were much more synched and selfsustaining in their streaming discourse. Lars could only hear these two in the tone of an able
whisper that did amble somberly across the room, and occasionally catching short words
wallet, tomorrow, sunny, or wakebut Lars could hear them nonetheless. Not truly
hear them, as Lars would of course know, but hear them in his mind, in softened reference points
of understanding:
Im cold, the red jacket shivered.
Wrap your hands around the coffee mug. Itll help, said the beard.
Thanks for paying, sorry I left my wallet at home.
Its fine, assured the beard, we can get it tomorrow after we spend the night at my
place.
Sounds good. Its supposed to be sunny tomorrow.
Really? Thats good. You know my favorite thing is to wake up on a weekday afternoon
and watch that soft sunlight, still sliding into my room.
They went on, and on. They seemed to be inching closer to each other (or perhaps Lars
just thought so) and Lars was just wondering when they might be absorbed into each other, so
engulfed by oneness soaked in a monistic desire. Lars imagined it was a moment similarly
sublime as when he looked at the long-faced raindrops on the windowpane that spoke in tap-taptap, or greeted the aspiring wisps of steam on his face that did hold him so gently. He sometimes
often, actuallywondered what it would be like to be another person, or another thing, or
idea, just to experience things from a different point of view. Surely, he would learn something.
Lars looked across the thickening room. A large counter, a color best described as coffee,
sat bored, atop which packets of sugar, stirrers, and other drug paraphernalia waited blithely in
its stance for that one moment of surrealistic activation and deactivation, of temporary intrusion
into a persons life. Soon forgotten by the human party, yes, but the sugar packet does not forget.
In fact, Lars did note that it is difficult to be ripped and pulled asunder and then decanted only to
fail to recollect such an experience. And what did the coffee think? Oh, what could it be
thinking? Such questions, such questions.
But let us move on. Behind the counter, which was really more like a raised table under
which compartments for trash cans were built, was a large glass pane (like the windowpanes, the
windowpanes, thought Lars) that twisted around the edge of the room until it faced Lars squarely
by the door, and was punctuated at the other end by a high desk behind which a cashier would
always standexcept now, for he was sitting down tiredly upon a stool near the wall behind the
desk, hands in lap, eyes in floor. On the desk were a few one-day-too-old bananas, a tip jar which
seemed almost melancholy in such rainy, inactive hours of the wearing day, and the cashiers
keypad from which a small screen sprung to display the total to the now non-existent customer

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but the customer would come, reaching into dusty pockets, taking from folded wallets, taking
their coffee in large swoops of the hand, and vanishing, then another appearingbut it was all
the same, really. The gears of a machine, switched off now. There would not be any more
curious, thoughtful coffee, nor any sugar packets to remember. Not until the rise of the Sun over
this gray, graying city of pale desperation, and into this very coffee shop, too, where the
depressed customer would come in to stir their happiness, and add the sugar, yes, the sugar that
would remember, and let this solution drip through their veins. Oh indeed, and quiver with
pleasure, again and again and again and again and again. . .
Now the glass panes existed only to cover an arraya faade of waiting bagels,
croissants, energy bars and drinks, donuts, and cookies. Yes, the cookies. Against the wall which
the glass panes guarded were set up a similar display of various machinery made for
manufacturing the most mediocre of coffee, cappuccinos, and other beverages. The workers
one nowwould walk up and down by this machinery, interacting with it harshly, though the
harshness was not in the workers doing. The one worker sitting in his stool was likely in his
twenties, with short russet hair drawn over his forehead, and wearing a pristine maroon apron
with the logo of Coffee Cottage inscribed thereupon. It was sad, really. Not in the way that he
wanted to be elsewhere (Lars traced it in his mindperhaps this cashier was thinking of a local
event, or simply sleepor the beach on a sunny day), but truly in the way that his forearms were
spread, the way that his lips were slightly open, slightly ajar, tracing the words that his lover last
spoke to him. Yes, the words.
Beyond the tracing young man was a unisex bathroom in the corner that the desk
inhabited, on which a picture of a wheelchair was drawn under the word UNISEX. It was not
far from the chatting couple, the German couple, talking about fishing. Why fishing? Why
anything? Why the Sun, the Moon, or the light? Why the windowpanes, and the rain on the
windowpanes, and the tap-tap-tap, or the glass panes, and their pastriesor the cashier that sits
upon a stool? Why fishing? Why the sky, or the sugar packet that remembers, or why the steam
that leaves the coffee, the soft but resolute wisps of desire? Ask the coffee, if you would have an
answer.
Oh, but do ask the coffee! Ask it why the tap-tap-taps reside upon the windowpane, or
why the raindrops slide upon the windowpane. Ask it of the cookies and the words, and their
days. Ask it why the sugar packets will not forget, never forget, or why the man sits alone,
whispering to himself. Ask it why the German couple are not yet each other, or why the light will
not quite meet. Ask it why the walls still stand, if we may understandbut do ask of the man,
and the sugar packet, and the rain and the sky, but do not forget! Like the sugar packet, do not
forget! Oh, do inquire! Yes, do inquire! What does the coffee think?

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