After scratching his chin for the fifth time, he came to a decision.
"Finally," I thought.
"I'll have a brambleberry-filled muffin and a medium Caramel Blizzard Latte, dark with three sugars and extra shots of caramel and whipped cream. Oh, and can you put one of those chocolate covered maraschino cherries on it too please?"
I did a double take. He ordered his coffee the exact same way I did, along with my favorite muffin. "Make that two," I blurted out loud, not wanting the barista to waste anymore time.
The man turned around to see who shared his creative taste of gourmet brew and bakery delight. He smiled and said, "I don't think I've ever met anyone else who drinks their coffee this way and with the same muffin. Amazing."
"Maximum doses of caffeine and sugar," I replied, smiling back. "Sorry about jumping in and ordering mine at the same time but I'm kind of in a hurry."
"There's no need to apologize. Actually, I'm running late for an interview myself."
"An interview? You too?"
The barista broke into the conversation. "Is this all together?"
We both answered simultaneously. "Yes." "No."
"Ok, which is it folks? Do you see this line out the door," the barista asked in frustration.
As he handed a ten-dollar bill to the barista, he adamantly said "yes" and told him to keep the change for his troubles. Turning back to face me, he said, "I insist. Now, we should get to our interviews and allow some of these other people to get their 'cuppa joe' too, before they stampede us for taking so long."
We moved out of the ever-growing line with our carefully guarded items of sustenance. Precariously holding his in one hand, he held out the other in an introductory manner. By the way, my name is Rahul and yours?"
I stood there dumbfounded. How was it that I didn't recognize him earlier? I slowly reached out for his hand, still in a daze. "Rahul," I repeated. "Rahul Malhotra?"
"What a coincidence, that's my name too," he laughed. [ more ]
The girl stood. He left a ten-dollar bill on the table for the check and a large tip. Immediately a young couple, smelling of the bars, sat down and called to the waiter to clean the table. Jonah walked away quickly. At the edge of the awning, he tried to give her his coat but she didn't take it. They began walking towards the river and passed Jackson Park. Jonah looked at the statue raised in the courtyard. The black horseman, the general with his sword drawn, the horse's front legs raised as to charge, stood silhouetted against the white cathedral. Jonah lamented that they closed the courtyard at night to keep out the bums. From a distance it looked only like a postcard in the rain. He wished he could address it to Ashley and send it first class. He thought that the cafe would not have been so crowded in France. The coffee would have been better there too. They actually knew how to brew coffee there. Nothing ever changed there. The girl began walking faster but Jonah wanted to sit awhile. He picked up his pace to keep up with her and they crossed the rail tracks, then walked up onto the path by the river. Jonah wished he had brought an umbrella for her. He wished she would take his coat. [ more ]
When she'd finished half the beverage, she began to type her essay. In her research, she'd discovered that according to legend, the ghost of one of the murdured politicians, James Humphrey Carlton, haunted the old estate which had been preserved as an historic site. She rubbed her eyes and rolled her neck. Only 45 minutes had passed. She picked up the coffee and again was startled. There was only a quarter of it left.
Jeanine looked up and saw the kind face of an elderly woman. She wore an old fashioned apron and a cap on her head. For some inexplicable reason, the woman seemed faded. Blinking, Jeanine shook her head.
"Enjoying your coffee?" The woman's face crinkled into a smile.
"Yes, I come here a couple of times a week." said Jeanine.
"So do I." confessed the woman. "Sometimes it seems like forever before I can enjoy a cup of coffee."
Jeanine didn't know what to say.
"What are you working on?" The woman was very chatty.
Jeanine quickly explained her history essay, hoping the woman would leave her alone so she could get back to work.
"Now that was a tragedy." Ignoring the surprise on Jeanine's face, the woman sat down and began to talk. "You know, James Carlton was the only honest one of the bunch. Unfortunately, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time." She waggled a finger. "He was a fine upstanding man. Good ideas. Good morals. He left behind a wife and 4 children."
This was new information to Jeanine but she made a mental note to 'google' it further. After a few minutes, the woman finally stood up.
"Nice chatting with you, dear." She inclined her head and in the blink of an eye had disappeared.
Jeanine cried out and again drew the attention of the same attendant.
"Can I help you?" asked the attendant politely.
What could Jeanine say? Silently she shook her head, packed up her belongings and decided to leave.
Later that night, she researched the info the woman had given her only to find it totally accurate. [ more ]
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