I'm sixteen with a car and a job. I'm a coffee vender of sorts; I sell coffee, make coffee. It's a little like Starbucks, but not expensive. I'ma boy, and my name is Dante. I talk to my customers, keep them happy and coming back. There is a regular customer, Richard. He is friendly and I enjoy talking to him.
One summer morning, rain pouring, he slowly walked into the shop. He looked tired, worn. He came to the table. "The usual." Was all he said. I did as he asked, but when I handed him his coffee, I knew it wasn't just regular tired.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked, real concern lacing my words. Richard looked up, his blue eyes kind of misting over in tears. I hid my shock as this grown man nearly crumbling before my eyes. I thought, maybe, his mother or father died. A pet maybe, but what came out of his mouth astonded me as a tear ran down his cheek.
"My wifeis drafting a divorce. After ten years." At this I stepped back. I've seen him and hiswife, their kids, laughing together in the sun as they cross the shop.They seemed picture perfect, but I guess every family has anic or two in their lives.Richard slid the money over the counter. I pushed it back. He looked at me.
"This one is on me." I gave him a half hearted smile.He shook his head and pushed it back at me.
"I can't do that to you. You're working becuse you need the money. It was a nice gesture though." I took the money, slowly counting and putting it inthe register. Igave him his change.
"Have a nice day." I said aquietly. He simply nodded and left. I watched him walkback out into the rain, where he got into his car. I went about the next few weeks, hardly seeing Richard. He's come inonce or twice to get the same thing, and leave. We'd chat for a while,but he always seemedsad tome.
On a good morning, Richard came back, a little better than usual, considering. I smiled at him as he walked up to me. He gave me a real smile back. "Hello, Dante. Theusual."
I turnedmy back, "Well, how is everything?"I asked, puttinga To-Go-Cup under thecoffee tap.
"It's better, I guess. I have an apartment now." He paused. "I feel like you actually care."He gave a gruff laugh.
"Well, seeing as you're acustomer,I care, but you're a great guy." I said, taking the money he slid over thecounter. There were morewrinkles in his face. A lot more wrinkles. He smiled at me and turned to leave.He saluted me behind his back and walked to the to the doors.
Just then a girl came running in,yelling about being late and needing a coffee.Richard never saw her coming until she slammedinto him and his freshcoffee went everywhere. I camerunning around the corner. "Is everybodyokay?" Richard helped the girl up, who by then was sputteringapologizes.
"Oh no! I'm sosorry! Please let mebuy youanother one." She didn'tnotice the growing stain on her blouse as she took the napkins from me and patted Richard down. "My name isLorie. Lorie Heinz. I'm really sorry, mister." Her blonde hair had come out of her bunso she tucked it back behind herear. "What's your name?"
"Richard. Richard Harris." He said,areally smile on his face, a smile i haven't seen in weeks. They walked to the counter as I let another vender clean the mess. I got them both their coffee and watched as they traveled to the table by the doors and laughed with each other.
Apparently, Lorie had forgotten about being late. Weeks went buy and Lorie and Richardmeet atthe coffee shop. By the end of the summer,when school started back up, Lorie and Richard were dating.
The chances of being slammed into after being divorced and having hot coffee spilled on you by a future lover is slim tonone. A man, down on his luck, beat the chances.
I wonder if he boughta lottery ticket that day?