The Charon Café
Sometimes, I wonder why I bother.
The couple who came in last week, for instance. They ordered two flat whites and left them sitting, cold; they never even touched the mugs. They just sat clutching one another’s hands, white-faced and silent, for almost an hour. His thumb stroked the back of her hand, really gently, and her tears rolled, but they said not a single word.
I hate throwing away good coffee. They didn’t even leave a tip. If you’re not going to drink it, why order it, y’know?
Then, there’s the regulars – Rocket Man, we call one of ’em, because he’s always on his way to the moon, or something. Never looks anyone in the eye, hands over a scribbled card with his order on it – a large mocha with extra syrup, always, and usually a muffin to go with it – and he mumbles, mumble-umble, all the time, but only to himself. Usually gives no trouble, but there was that one day he looked through the window and started screaming; we got him out before anyone complained, though. We thought he wouldn’t come back, but he did, and he didn’t want to talk about the bruises on his face.
Or maybe we didn’t ask. I’m not sure anymore.
And Anjelica. Always, it’s a green tea. No sweeteners, no syrups, nada. Just the tea. She’s so slight the light goes through her, and her hair’s like fine wire. Some days, she’s too tired even to smile, but we love her. Good tipper, never leaves a mess behind. Such a neat girl, you know what I’m sayin’? It’s been a while since we’ve seen her, now that I think about it, but I’m sure she’ll be back. Girls like Anjelica will always come back here.
It’s the younger ones I feel sorry for. I always try to fancy-up their orders, y’know, putting flowers or hearts or something on the top of their drink. Slipping on an extra cookie when the boss isn’t looking. Sometimes they notice, and sometimes not. I like it when they pay a passing visit only, a stop-off on the way to somewhere better, but sometimes I look at them and know they’re going to be occupying a corner booth here for the rest of forever. That makes me sad, man. Real sad.
But – wow. Sorry, man. I don’t know what came over me. I’m sure the last thing you care about is the stresses of some barista, right?
Welcome to the Charon Café, friend. Now, what’ll it be?