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The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories

Koffee Kulture
Leigh Pierce


The revving of the engine. The squealing of the tires on the pavement. The car slides around the corner as the brakes lock up and slides into place in front of a large board. The driver pulls off his sunglasses and squints at the board as he puts his car in park. The car is spotless and well taken care of, as is the driver.

A scratchy voice comes out of nowhere, but the driver isn't fazed. Although he looks jumpy, he's not shocked.
The voice blares out loud enough for everyone in the county to hear, but not understand, "Welcome to Karma Koffee, home of the $450 dollar coffee, how can I help you?"

The caffeine deprived, overly excited driver's lips part with an uneasy smile that would have Juan Valdez telling him to try the decaf.
He responds with a puddle of verbal diarrhea that would seem out of place anywhere but here.
"Yeah, hi. Ummmm, I'd like a Ridiculously Mega... no. Make that a So Unnecessarily Large That I Don't Even Know Why I'm Ordering It half bovine growth hormone enriched watered down skim milk latte, with a dash of employer intolerance, a pinch of yuppie arrogance, an extra shot of uncaring corporate greed, and some screw the working class artificial sweetener."
He turns to check his teeth in the rearview mirror and jerks his head back towards the speaker.
"Oh, and could you please leave room for some steamed disgruntled employee urine?"

There's a short pause while the two minutes of random chatter registers in the brain of the minimum wage slave at the other end of the headset.
"So that's one So Unnecessarily Large That I Don't Even Know Why I'm Ordering It half bovine growth hormone enriched watered down skim milk latte, with a dash of employer intolerance, a pinch of yuppie arrogance, an extra shot of uncaring corporate greed, and some screw the working class artificial sweetener with room for steamed disgruntled employee urine?"
The driver wiggles around in his seat and tries to make sure he just heard the correct order in his caffeine and nicotine riddled brain. After staring ahead like a drooling idiot he perks up when he realizes that he is that much closer to getting his fix.
"Yup. That's right. Oh! Do you still have the limited edition baby seal skin cups? I never got around to picking one up on Earth Day last week."

After another pause while the pock faced, underpaid, teenage worker finishes pissing in the creamer container he presses his button on the cordless headset.
"No, I'm sorry we don't. But you do have your choice of the I'm Gonna Throw It On The Side Of The Road Plastic Cup, or the Fuck The Environment I Want To Pollute Our Landfills Nonbiodegradeable Styrofoam Cup."

The driver mulls this over and tries to make the right decision that will make him just as important as the customer touching up her make-up while checking her e-mail on her PDA in the SUV behind him.
"Hmmmmm... roadside pollution, or waste of landfill space? I guess I'll take the Fuck The Environment I Want To Pollute Our Landfills Nonbiodegradeable Styrofoam Cup. Hell. Why not? I don't have any kids that matter! Ha ha ha."
The kid with the zits and the headset stops to zip up his fly.
"OK. Please pull up to our finance window, and our loan officer will be with you in just a minute."

The driver pulls forward and stops at the first window. He puts the car in park. As he looks around inside the car he begins to panic. First he checks the glovebox, then the center console, then the side pocket in the door. He's beginning to sweat when he gets a look of relief on his face. He finally pulls down the visor and his reading glasses fall into his lap. He slides them on, wipes the sweat from his brow, smiles and turns to the person in the window.
The man in the three piece suit leans across his desk and towards the window. He slides the partition open with his big clammy hand.
"You had the So Unnecessarily Large That I Don't Even Know Why I'm Ordering It half bovine growth hormone enriched watered down skim milk latte, with a dash of employer intolerance, a pinch of yuppie arrogance, an extra shot of uncaring corporate greed, and some screw the working class artificial sweetener with room for steamed disgruntled employee urine?"
The man in the car leans out the window to try to get a better look through the partition.
"Yup."
The suited man grabs two identical looking clipboards and a pen from his desk drawer and leans across the desk again.
"Do you want our 'I Can Barely Afford This' financing plan at eight percent interest with ten percent down or our 'I Will Be Paying Dearly For This For The Next Two Years' financing plan at twenty-five percent interest and no money down?"
The driver scratches his head as well as some other things and contemplates his next thirty-six paychecks. Then he does some quick calculations in his head. Mortgage payment. Utilities. Car payment. Alimony. Child support. Insurance. He checks in his wallet and smiles.
"Well, I came across some extra money this morning, and I can't remember what I was saving it for... so I guess I can put some money down and take your 'I Can Barely Afford This' financing plan and get the low interest rate of eight percent."
The sweaty suit smiles. He pictures another new club in his golf bag.
"That sounds marvelous sir. Here's your form to fill out. I'll just need two forms of identification please. Drivers license, social security card, birth certificate, passport... whatever you've got handy will work."

The loan officer hands the customer the clipboard that was in his right hand and a pen. In return the customer gives him his drivers license and his social security card. The loan officer disappears out the door.
The driver takes his time to read all the fine print, dot his i's and cross his t's. He finally finishes filling out the forms. He leans out the car window again and rings the bell on the wall next to the partition.
The Loan officer in the sweaty three piece suit returns with his ID and takes the clipboard. He enters the customer's Karma Koffee Kustomer number into the computer and smiles.
"Well, it looks like you've been approved so we just need that $45 dollars down so we can get on with the transaction and you'll be able to get your beverage."
The driver takes his reading glasses off and replaces them with his sunglasses. A look of peacefulness returns to his formerly worried face.
"No problem. Here you go sir."
He reaches in and hands over the remaining contents of his now slim and empty wallet. $45. He sighs with relief.
The loan officer leans out and snatches the man's savings up with his big clammy hand.
"All right, just pull up to the next window and they'll have your So Unnecessarily Large That I Don't Even Know Why I'm Ordering It half bovine growth hormone enriched watered down skim milk latte, with a dash of employer intolerance, a pinch of yuppie arrogance, an extra shot of uncaring corporate greed, and some screw the working class artificial sweetener with room for steamed disgruntled employee urine ready for you."
The customer sighs once again. Licking his lips he can almost taste the overpriced shame already.
"Thanks again. I'll see you in a few days."

He pulls ahead and parks next to the final window. He wonders if this is the feeling that his kids would get if he ever paid his back child support so they could go to Disney World. That thought is as fleeting as the joy he receives from doing the community service that the judge ordered.
The final borderline unemployable teenager peaks his hair net covered head out the window.
"Here you go sir. One So Unnecessarily Large That I Don't Even Know Why I'm Ordering It half bovine growth hormone enriched watered down skim milk latte, with a dash of employer intolerance, a pinch of yuppie arrogance, an extra shot of uncaring corporate greed, and some screw the working class artificial sweetener with room for steamed disgruntled employee urine in the Fuck The Environment I Want To Pollute Our Landfills Nonbiodegradeable Styrofoam Cup."
He reaches forward and hands the anxious man a printed styrofoam cup smaller than a cold medicine dosage cup.
The driver shakes as he grabs the liquid gold from the worthless coffee slinger.
"Thank you."

The man downs the contents of the cup in one swallow, crumples the styrofoam cup and tosses it on the passenger floor onto the overwhelming pile of empties. He shivers with the delight of a kid on Christmas morning. As he puts the car in drive it starts to make a funny noise. A look of wonder and worry crosses his face, erasing the ecstasy and fulfillment that was there a second ago. He shakes it off and starts to pull away when the car sputters like a sixty year old miner and kills.
He stares like a drooling idiot once again while he tries to get the car to restart. No such luck. He finally looks up at the gauges and remembers what the $45 was for. The gas tank. A blinking picture of a gas pump on his dashboard mocks him while he starts bashing his forehead into the steering wheel.
"Shit!"
The borderline unemployable occupant of the last window peaks out and sees the stalled car. His face doesn't even change as he leans back in the window and turns to the back of the store.
"Tammy! Call Karma Towing again. We've got another one."

© Leigh Pierce April 2008
dairylanddisturbance@hotmail.com

'The Profane Pulp Poet'
Writer/Poet/Artist/Filmmaker
www.myspace.com/leighpierce


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