Sarah Wimberly

What Happened in the Coffee Shop

I am drawing a picture but I don't know what it is yet
Sitting down in a cozy corner in the coffee shop,
Even though I don't drink coffee.
I'm sipping a cup of frozen chai tea and scribbling lines on paper
But I don't know why or what yet.

The man—no, boy, really—fidgets nervously
Behind the plastic register since they don't make metal anymore,
Tapping his fingers on the counter, rolling on his heels.
Checking the black and white clock on the yellow wall anxiously.
So I look from the boy back to my paper of something-or-other,
He takes no notice of me, and I think nothing more of it.
Save that he has nice eyes.

Very nice eyes, in fact.
Eyes that make him famous in a movie he auditions for in a couple hours.
That's why he's watching the clock you, see.
He gets off in thirty minutes then he must drive across town and get the lead
In this summer's biggest blockbuster about some handsome hero and his girl
And some adventure or something that happens to them.
You know, the typical teenage or something blockbuster.

The bell above the door whispers—no squeals—
Because they do not believe in real bells anymore, just these screeching electric things.
To rudely announce that someone new—or old—has arrived
To order a mocha or latte or frap, what I don't care.
Cause I'm not the one ordering or taking the order.
While the newcomer—a woman—in her khaki business suit jabbers her order,
Then grabs the cup and bolts out the door to her red convertible.
She must be late for a meeting or something, but I don't know and don't care.
So I go back to my doodle of what-not.

It turns out that she is, in fact, late for a meeting, a merger of all things
That will make her a billionaire and put her face on the covers of Fortune and Time
And she's as famous as all those other faceless billionaires,
And it turns out her company merged with Mircosoft, of all things,
And became famous for inventing some nonsense with computers
That we all use and love but don't know its name.

A man sitting in the corner behind me beneath a poor Picasso copy stands slowly,
Empty cup and muffin wrapper in hand, and shuffles
Over to the trash, humming softly a song that does not go
With the pop music playing overhead.
Gosh, Britney Speares again, and I moan because she can't sing and I hate her.
Maybe he is humming blues or something.
It doesn't sound modern at all, but he's smiling while he does it
And I smile back then go back to my sketch of nothing-something
Thinking and watching nothing at all.

Turns out he's a musician on the rise with an album on the way.
And a popular single.
One day he'll be famous
And trim his beard and change his shaggy coat for a designer one,
And start a new famous trend and women will scream his name.
But not today.
Today he's just throwing his trash away.
At least, that's what I imagine.

Someone taps me and asks if I know where Maine Street is.
He's older than me but young still with a pleasant smile and muddled look.
So I smile and tell him to go straight out of the lot then turn right,
Go two lights and turn left at the third and he'd be there
All the while wondering if every town has a Maine Street and if he is a tourist.
What he's touring I don't know because there's nothing to see here at all.
He must be passing through like normal people do.
But he has a pleasant, an honest face
So I smile and say good-bye
Then go back to my whatever-it-is drawing.

Actually, he's on his way to visit his mother who is the rich witch off Maine Street.
She's a mean-natured crabby old woman who threatens with a cane
But is really quite a dear once you get to know her.
She's rich, you know, and about to kick the bucket and leave everything
To her only son, a good boy with a sweet heart and no ring on his finger.
She only wishes he had grandkids for her to see before she goes
And enters heaven and leaves him the whole kit and caboodle.

Then my cell rings that annoying little tune I've put on it
Gosh I've got to change that before I go nuts,
But I answer and it's my mother and I wonder what color the walls here are,
Marigold maybe?She says that if I don't hurry I will be late to help with dinner
And while I'm here to grab her a mocha or something.

So I sigh and throw my cup away before going to the boy behind the register.
White chocolate mocha extra whip cream, I order, remembering how mom likes it
And the boy smiles and says yeah sure that's 4 dollars.
So I pass him the cash and wow he really does have nice eyes.
And I smile and say goodbye have a nice day

Then walk outside where the sun is frying the earth and heat waves shimmer above the asphalt,
And I think about my nothing sketch and how nothing happens here.

It turns out that the boy behind the register becomes famous and all the girls love him.
He lives out his dream and then puts a bullet through his head one cloudless night
When it is so beautiful and life is so wonderful and empty
That the only way to escape is through the trigger.

The woman in the khaki suit makes her merger and is a billionaire.
She marries four times and followed by the press and paparazzi that she hates.
She was always a shy, quiet thing, and she hates that kind of attention.
She dies at a ripe old age and her kids from her numerous mates fight over everything.
And the funeral was lovely even though
Everyone frowned and said nothing.

The man beneath the Picasso sells platinum CDs by the carload and is happy.
But not really.
He has more friends and women than he ever dreamed
And a whole lot of tears and pot and hangovers and questions, breaks the habit, eventually,
Then spends the rest of his life looking for his name outside the
Record labels and hit singles.

The tourist-but-not man has a lovely stay with his mother then she dies and he gets it all,
And suddenly so many women are after him it makes his head spin.
But he marries his high school sweetheart and they have three kids.
One of them he names after his mother,
And they live a normal life .
Except their kids get just about whatever they want and have been to Europe three times.
It's not a bad, life, really, and they turn out okay.

Me, well, I don't do a whole lot.
I teach ninth grade English to those terrified, cocky, loveable freshman
Stuck somewhere between kids and adults, and I adore them.
I marry a boy I met in college and we have four kids and live on a modest income.

I write and sketch in my spare time and remember how when I was young,In that coffee shop,
Sketching something that was nothing,
And watched the boy with the nice eyes behind the plastic register
And the woman in the khaki suit in a hurry and the man not humming Britney Speares
And the person who was not a tourist looking for Maine Street
And how I wanted oh so badly to be beautiful, rich and famous.