Keep in mind, the purpose of WriMo is to write, not edit. Editing is for December … or January if you’re still finishing in December. Point is, I’m not editing these “snippets” before I post them. There will be no “set up” for the scenes. Just raw, unadulterated, first draft train wreck coming at you for the next 29 days. If that sounds familiar, you may recall my NaNoWriMo posts from last near. Here’s the daily:
It was well into one o’clock on a Tuesday. Apparently hers wasn’t the only office with a soap opera playing out in the staff lounge where idiots acted like their mothers worked there. It took twice as long to drive the main strip, the coffee shop only two miles away. Halfway there as sign read, “Hold’Em Tables Tuesdays @ Two” If not for traffic at a standstill for nearly a minute, she probably wouldn’t have noticed. If not for the drive through coffee shack in the bar’s parking lot, she probably wouldn’t have stopped.
The kid at the window was chewing a wad of gum that looked like he’d shoved the whole pack in his mouth. She wondered why he wasn’t in school, but their first verbal exchange explained it.
“Tired o’ waiting in traffic, eh?” he flipped a paper coffee cup like Tom Cruise in that 90’s movie.
“I don’t usually leave the office this time of day. Is it always like this?” she nodded back at the road as a Mercedes and a Volkswagen Bug entering the lot caught her peripheral vision.
“Coffee rush hour. No joke. It varies throughout the week, but every Monday – from seven to eight, from ten to eleven, and just a tick past lunch, they come out.” He scratched his head, and shrugged.
Zombies in search of a cup of caffeine brains, she thought. Herself among them. “Why no line at your window?” she was getting tired of this conversation already. She glanced at the letter sized, laminated paper that served as a menu below the window’s sliding glass. Three choices were offered, all of them the same price. Before he could answer she blurted, “Are you kidding me – a buck fifty for a coffee?”
He smiled and pointed to his name tag. She hand’t paid attention to it yet. She read his name, and below it in smaller print, “Owner.” He said, “You got it dude. It’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short. You get what you pay for; the coffee here sucks. I guess word’s gotten around to most the regulars at this hour. I’ll give you a break, you not being a regular. You should go into Smitty’s. They have better coffee than burgers and, I’d say they have the best coffee for at least twenty blocks in all directions.”
“I was hoping to grab and go, Stuart,” she motioned to her watch, “people are expecting me back.” Before she could shift into gear, however, he caught her by surprise.
“How old do you think I am?” he asked, leaning a little out the window.
“I don’t know,” she answered without a beat, but paused before releasing the clutch.
“I’m nineteen. Do you know how I bought this, my first business?”
She was getting antsy. How did this hour, this moment, get so out of line? She just wanted a coffee. Maybe she’d just break down and make a thermos in the morning. Those Keurig machines were on sale at Costco. She couldn’t bring herself to buy into so much waste – a whole plastic and paper capsule for each cup. Where was the landfill going to be found. Is this why they were going to Mars? She felt a long, beleaguered sigh escape as she answered, “How would I know that?”
“I won big at cards as soon as I turned eighteen. Now I’m not even that good, but I can read people. You don’t like a lot of small talk. You have a little problem with OCD, although you wouldn’t know it to look at your car. Ever think about getting one of those yearly car wash memberships? I mean, you can afford it, even though you drive a low-end car. See I know all that from observing you. I know, right? I’m not what anyone expects. Kinda’ why I get along at poker. So when you look at your watch and tell me you gotta’ get back? I see someone who just wants to leave this place, really, and maybe get the coffee somewhere. But lady, oh um, excuse me, ma’am? You don’t really care about getting back. I’m just sayin’.”
Now this, she thought, this was good. A refreshing surprise – this kid. Rude and obnoxious, not very clean, granted. Still, she was intrigued. She actually allowed a smile as she said, “Tell me, Stuart,”
“Stew,” he interrupted, “You can call me Stew. I’m really sorry for the ‘lady’ routine. Table talk. Got a game in ten minutes. Yeah, call me Stew.”
“Right. Stew. Tell me please, if you know so much from our brief interaction here, what makes you think I’d rather be in a bar,” she motioned to Smitty’s and smirked, “correction – a run down bar, probably full of smoke and bad jukebox music (I’m thinking George Jones era Country Western from the looks of it) instead of a posh coffee shop with free wi fi?”
Stew plunged his hands in his pockets and gave a head bob of defeat. “That I don’t know. I should have guessed from the OCD thing maybe. Then again there’s the car. Do you know you have like,” he paused and appeared to be counting, “five crumpled Whataburger bags in your back seat? I don’t know. I don’t really think that far out when I’m postulating. I already told ya’ I get by at poker. I’m not great.”
She put the car back in neutral, pulled the brake, and stuck her hand out the window with another smirk. “Macon Belfair,” she announced.
This move caught him off guard and drained all confidence he’d been faking. “Stew Graves, serious as a heart attack,” he placed his now sweaty palm in hers and gave a weak shake before pulling it back and blushing.
This time, she waited a beat, stumped for that short time. Finally, “Why would you not be serious about your name? Did I miss something?”
“Table talk again. Speaking of – why don’t you just park and come check it out? There’s no smoking inside. They don’t allow the jukebox or TVs while they have the game, for real. That’s why they do it at two. Used to be at six thirty and people complained it was too loud. What are they gonna’ do, make it quiet as a cemetery while people are trying to enjoy their happy hour after their eight or ten lousy hours?” He was cleaning off his counter and unplugging his machine as he spoke. “Anyway, I wasn’t joking about the coffee. Smit Jr. drinks it non-stop from noon to four and he’s pretty picky about it. They don’t have all the flavor fluff you got at these other places, but you’ll see if you come it. It smells up the place and, I mean, it smells good. Smit says he read somewhere that’s the real benefit of coffee to a human body anyways, the olfactory job it does on us.”
“Okay.” she caught herself by surprise as her body complied with her answer, dropped the brake and shifted into first, “Just for coffee though.” She meant she wasn’t going to join in the poker game, since he’d been talking about it as much as the coffee. She could tell by his look of fear that he thought she meant something else, but she’d already started rolling forward too far to explain. Now she was blushing. She laughed out loud in her solitary trash mobile after turning off the engine and grabbing her wallet. Most people didn’t get her. She thought she actually liked it that way. If they didn’t know her, she didn’t have to put forth the effort to get to know them only to find out that she thought they were idiots and should take a long leap off a short pier. She didn’t turn on charm unless it served a purpose for business … or pleasure with no commitments. This kid had made her smile twice, surprised her more than once, and here she was, blushing from a mishap in her verbal communication. She hadn’t turned on the charm for the usual reasons; she was after all old enough to be his mother. He’d charmed her into being charming. “Tricky kid,” she said aloud.