by Alastair S Morris
If you’ve ever bumped into the same person wherever you go, felt you were being watched, seen a light in the sky, thought of someone just before
they called you, feared the future, distrusted the past, wondered if our parents are really who they say they are, known that They are out to get you,
worried that They don’t give a damn about you, questioned your Government’s integrity, wondered where all the biros you bought went to, seen yourself
walking down the street, known that it would rain because you didn’t bring a coat, met your soulmate, forgotten how you got home last night, or heard
the clicking on the telephone line, then you are already one of us.
It’s time for the truth.
“The Nazis did.”
Anna groaned theatrically. “Godwin’s Law!”
“I’m sorry?” said Flynn indignantly. “I was just saying that Hitler tried to construct the -”
“And that’s the law, idiot. First person to resort to the Nazis loses the argument. Conversation over.”
I laughed. “She’s right, Flynn. You jinxed it.” His pride mortally wounded, Flynn sank back into his armchair, long fingers cradling his mug of
cappuccino. Anna pouted at him, giggled, and pulled her feet up onto the couch. Next to her, Nick was staring gloomily out of the window, his
miniscule cup of amphetamine-laced espresso held gently, his eyes hard and unblinking.
“You know,” said Anna softly, “I’ve been thinking.”
“Story?” I asked, wide-eyed and childlike.
“No, Matthew,” she said in her school-mistress tone. “I’ve been thinking about coffee. About the man who grows the coffee. About the man who grew
coffee. Does he know about the secret Russian moonbase, or about freemasons in the government, or that Elvis is alive and well and
gigging tonight in Reno?”
“Probably not,” said Flynn sourly.
“Probably not,” Anna agreed. “Do you think he cares
that he doesn’t know? Do you think it matters
that he doesn’t know? Does he
wake up in the morning, kiss his wife, eat his muesli or his low-fat greek yoghurt, and go off to plough the fields unaware
of his ignorance,
or does it bother him? Does he lie awake at night thinking I haven’t heard anything of Elvis lately
“I don’t think coffee farmers eat greek yoghurt, Anna,” I said in a reasonable tone of voice.
“I know. God, that’s the reason they call it the third world.”
,” said Nick, and Anna fell silent. We awaited his judgement. His eyes still fixed on the window, he finished his supplemented
espresso in a single, reckless gulp.
“What?” asked Flynn in an irritated tone of voice. Anna sighed, and I rubbed my eyes. We knew where this was headed.
“Look at us! We’re sat around discussing the flaws in global capitalism in a #ing Starbucks!”
Anna smiled, and Flynn rolled his eyes, but I couldn’t stop myself. It was like a slow-motion train wreck.
“Nick, we changed the subject an hour ago. What are you talking about?” I said before I could be stopped. Nick glared at me, his eyes wide, his
pin-prick pupils fixed.
“What am I – how complicated is it, Mattie? We’re discussing the #ing
flaws of #ing
capitalism in a #ing
Starbucks!” He punctuated his words by striking the table with his empty cup. “Jesus, we make me sick.”
We slid lower in our seats. This was the dangerous time. This was when the passion would vanish abruptly, Nick would return to the window, and we
would breathe easy. Everything would be fine.
And everything would have been fine, had the girl in the Starbucks cap and the ‘Hi I’m Emily’ badge not came over.
“Sir, I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”
And that was when he put his fist through the window.
I’d like to make out that it was an unusual Saturday evening. I’d like to be able to say how shocked I was that we were all bundled out onto the
street, Anna’s shirt soaked with spilled vanilla latte and Nick hurling elaborate curses at the security guard. Admittedly, the broken window was
unusual, but everything else was just…
It was just us.
To be continued…