Coffee shop

She entered the coffee shop, all the presence and charisma of a smoked ham, and people began taking their leave one at a time, like they were taking tickets at a Deli counter. The local laundry store charged a special reduced rate for those wanting to wash her out of their clothes. All around the shop, a forced inflexion rages like a fire, there is a dark trembling trolley which the toothless workers drag around the floor like a cart for the dead, collecting spent espresso’s and the occasional terminally ill Mocha-Breeze. When the filter machines run, and steam is forced through the mountain of coffee beans, every patron in the shop and those walking across the street feel they have a conch shell over their ears, and are shaken by violent childish memories of the sea. She drinks espressos, and sits over in the corner, fingers tapping, legs crossed, a supercilious glare directed at all who spoil their coffee with water or milk, ‘they are breeding out the coffee,’ she thinks, ‘how the English did the Celts.’ She was talking to a friend, who was describing a man, and she nodded up and down whilst her friend spoke, like she were sizing up a horse. When she drank, she drank the cheapest whisky, straight, from the bottle or a dirty glass, she was wearing a T-shirt with Howlin’ Wolf lyrics on the back, ‘I asked my baby for a glass of water, and she brought me gasoline.’. They’ve ordered food. And the curious calm the horses of their heels to stay and watch the circus act. When she ate, she did so in a slow calamitous panic, with her eyes wide open. First scooping up her food and then drawing her arm out wide to cautiously, tentatively retract - the spoon trembling with her anxiety. The remaining customers peek over their steaming cappuccinos, and the tips of their sticky magazines, she was looking at her arm as if it were not her own, but a stranger’s, and the spoon in that stranger’s hand as if it were a syringe. Her eyes swell, the food nears, a hypodermic fix of jacket potato, her hairs stand on end. The ghost with the injection is in her bones, and holds her stock still as it administers the dose. When they depart, she leaves a tip for the waitress and reaches out to shake her hand. The waitress is looking away, distracted by the shambling coffee cart, and reacts so late that barely their finger tips touch, as she watches the girl leave, a feeling of panic rises up in her like milk froth from the machines, dread. Rushing over to the sink, she’s almost sick and she’s thinking, over and over, in a loud voice, that at a zoo small animals can fuck through the bars of their cages. Scrubbing her hands and thinking, that at a zoo small animals can fuck through the bars of their cages.

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