Locked Out of Caffeine Purgatory (Short Story/journal entry)

1/21/18 — Everyday I commit myself to write just one page. Here’s my page for today. Enjoy!

5AM — Sitting in my warm car on another frigid January day in the backlot of Caffeine Purgatory. Karly, my fellow co-barista with the keys, has not shown up to open the coffee house with me. An hour passes and I spend it like I did on New Year’s Morning when she didn’t show. I read a book and try not to fall asleep. Today I am reading The Outsider by Colin Wilson.

An occasional car runs through the drive thru. I can see their disappointed faces by the light of their dashboards. At 6:10AM, I decide enough is enough and pull out of the backlot. I drive down the road to Kwick Trip, buy myself a cup of black Colombian coffee and a chicken sandwich. I return to my warm car, turn up the radio, and eat the sandwich. It has a sourdough bun which has hardened far beyond its expiration beneath the heat lamps. The chicken itself is a limp, thin disk of lukewarm meat. I shrug and eat it anyway.

I turn up the stereo, feeling good vibes listening to Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. I drive once more over to Caffeine Purgatory. A few customer cars are parked in the front lot, but the shop is dark as a mine. Karly is clearly nowhere to be found. I shrug and drive back home and begin to type this out. I routinely pick up the phone and call the store to see if my co-worker has arrived. 6:50AM and no luck yet.

Hold it. Wait a minute while I pick up the phone and try again. You know I’ll let you know.

….Nope.

My dial was met by an eternal ringing, like a question echoed into the black void of space. What now? I’ll tell you: I’ll sit here in the office chair, sip some competitor coffee (Karuba), and I’ll write – just for you, dear reader.

Last night was the night of the blood moon. I saw the moon last night. It was full, bright, and pale, but it wasn’t so bloody. My girlfriend complained of stomach pains and I sat up and read for a while. Soon we were both tired and fell into the oblivion of sleep. I had many strange dreams, all of them negative.

I dreamed my girlfriend and I were separated, cold and distant. I reached out to stroke her body and my fingers treaded empty space instead. Then there was the dream about the snake. Just like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes.

I was back to living in my very first apartment on Highview Drive. Someone had found a sizeable python slithering beneath the couch. She picked it up and the python hissed, snatching aggressively at the air. The woman, fat and pale like the moon, approached me with the snake striking out in her hands. Somehow the snake was not interested at all in biting her, just me. I jumped up and down, squealed like a girl, did the pee-pee dance. All to no avail. My crazed movements only made the snake more aggressive in its strikes. I began to imagine what would happen if she let go of its tail and let it do as it pleased.

Then she grinned and let it go. The snake chased me all around the living room, in through the kitchen, back into the living room, and down the hallway. I ran into my old bedroom, slammed the door behind me, and locked it.

Some fellow roommates began to kick in the door. It wasn’t long before the door was bursting off its hinges, and in came the damned snake. I looked down at its beady black eyes and its long, thick primordial figure. It aimed back its head in pre-strike pose and hisssssssssed, its vile fangs exposed. Then it struck at me violently. The propulsion of its long, virile body shot itself through the air and up into my arms. The snake slid and swiveled up around my shoulders and neck, wrapping me up in a coil of fear and evil. Literally face to face with it now, with its body coiled around my head, it aimed back with fangs dripping saliva, its eyes staring into my own, swallowing me. The creature filled the room with a horrible hisssssssssss…

I awoke with my body caked in sweat. I reached over and grabbed my cool glass of water and drank. The alarm went off for work. A night of terrors and now for a day at Caffeine Purgatory. I got up, showered, dressed, tried not to wake the sleeping girlfriend. I drove to work and sat reading in the backlot, as you know, and here we are, dear reader. We’ve come full circle.

It is 7:15AM and the first rays of sun are breaking out over the horizon. I am reaching over once more for the phone to see if Karly is in. You know I’ll let you know. I dial the number…

…..Nope!

I imagine Karly is still in bed, past out from a long night of partying. I hate to think it, but perhaps some terrible accident has happened. Perhaps she is dead. I guess I’ll just have to sit here, sip coffee and write some more. I’ll write just for you.

***

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