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morning driveFifty-five, sixty, sixty-five miles an hour. The speedometer kept rising. Seventy-five, eighty-five. What else was there to do on a straight desert highway? One-hundred. A vehicle ahead started to appear through the horizon. One-hundred-ten. He blew by it in a flash. It was a stopped car on the side of the road. A glance in the mirror informed him their hood was raised. Car Trouble? Maybe. Could also just be a trap for good samaritans. He peeked inside the glove box. The early desert sun gleamed off the gun metal blue finish. One-hundred, ninety, seventy-five, fifty, thirty-five, twenty. His car slide over onto the shoulder. Ten, five, zero. The driver grabbed the pistol, checked it was loaded, safety on, and placed it in the shoulder holster. A look into the mirror, and then he was off; heading back.
the man crept onto the shoulder opposite the distressed vehicle. A mus
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
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