The Cuppa

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Every place at the café was taken. The lady with the eye shadow matching her porcelain bracelets was smiling over the morning paper as if she had written it herself.  Not that I can read people any better than people read newspapers. I was sure the flowered bag resting against the cross of her ankles housed a miniature Yorkie, or full size for that matter, I don’t know the scale of animals that fit into purses any better than I know, well, we’ve crossed that bridge already.

 

The coffee server was staring intently into the frothing espresso maker. I gathered he had something interesting playing in his mind behind the steaming swooshes of condensing vapor. Of course all young men in black T-shirts have something beyond the cotton stylings and facial hair. Musician is a probable guess, except he’s smiling and it’s a morning shift. A student of life’s cadence.

 

The two suited men in the window are spending money because they can. That’s awful smug of me, a left over from stirring the free chocolate shavings and Half and Half into my ordinary cuppa to approximate a mocha. They’re unwinding before the day has even keyed up.

 

Turning the tables meant I had to leave my chair.

 

I decided to test parting the waters with the employee first. He had to be polite to me. I might spend more money on ground beans and water. I slid my hand across the counter, palm down with just the hint of a dollar peeking out of my fingers.

 

“Excuse me, I don’t know what you did, but what if it didn’t matter and you had a chance to be forgiven? Would you take it?” I held the dollar up between my finger and my thumb in invitation.

 

“If it didn’t matter what I did, why would I need to be forgiven?”

 

He had me. “Right answer. Sorry, I asked the wrong question.” I left him the dollar and went back to collect my Bible wishing I hadn’t already finished my muddy water. If I began arguing with myself now I was sure to lose, so I swept toward the lady without the dog.

 

“Ma’am forgive me for disturbing you, but if you could wake up forever, the day after you took your final rest, would you sleep better the night before?”

 

“Depends who I slept with I suppose. You aren’t flirting with me, are you?”

 

“No ma’am, I’m sorry. I mistook myself for somebody else. Have a good day.”

 

Two strikes on me. Two steps to the door. Two men sitting inside, in the sun.

 

“Gentlemen, if only one thing is required, would you believe it or wait for the proof?”

 

Their dry cleaned certainty feigned interest at my interruption. “Required to do what exactly?”

 

“It doesn’t matter really. Fix a bicycle, make someone happy, go to heaven.  It’s just a question.’

 

I might’ve smiled. Smiling would be a good thing to learn. I know my hand sweated. I don’t think the café owner would do anything to make his door handle slippery.

 

When I got across the parking lot a guy with a cardboard sign asked me for some spare change. His jacket suggested a military background. I asked him if he had change for a twenty. He did. “God bless you,” he said at my few dollars in his hat.

 

“How would I know if He did?” I asked.

 

“Oh He’s blessing all right, even if you’re the last to know, He’s blessing. You can trust me on that.”

 

The change he gave me bore the slogan, In God We Trust. I put it in my pocket and decided I would do just that, and no more. Trust God with the results of my scatter brained seeds. One waters, another harvests, and some people end their quiet time by speaking up.

 

 

Will Schmit

Will Schmit is the volunteer Pastor of Prison Outreach Ministry for New Heart Community Church of McKinleyville, CA. His poetry is available for comment at Christian Tourist Syndrome .

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