My wife finally went through her gmail account recently and cleared out her InBox of thousands of emails that were either important and not. In the mess of wires, she found a short story I penned from back in 2009 I sent to her to edit. I forgot about the story completely and when I re-read it I couldn’t even remember the context of where it came from initially, although my own thoughts and idiosyncrasies are laced everywhere. So here it is from the archives, unedited, minus the different spelling of the male characters name (nice one, Trebec).
“Thanks.” Kaleb nods his head at the coffee girl noticing her flair: Batista’s do it Better. He blows on his chai to cool it down while thinking of certain possibilities that will never come to pass. “Nice button,” he says as he turns away sliding his eyes off her lips; she doesn’t notice him past a smile, as per the requirements in her job description.
It’s unseasonably cool and rainy, perfect for cafe squatting though surprisingly empty today. Kaleb chooses a small wire meshed table by the floor to ceiling window. He sees Cameron crossing the street without an umbrella, stopping traffic as she makes her way through the puddles. Kaleb puts her soy latte down and looks at the back of his paper cup reading that some how thousand of tree’s have been saved by “you” personally. He misses the times when he could just read some pithy quote instead of now being reminded how great he is.
Cameron hangs her coat at the door smirking at Kaleb and walking over towards him rubbing her arms as if she is cold. When they hug Kaleb tries not to notice Cameron’s warm body that feels soft and firm and safe with him. She’s always been like a little sister to him, but it’s funny how things change between 10 and 25 with only three years difference between them.
“Did you finish it?” She asks with eyes that are expectant, yet still a little tired from her sleep in day. “Of course.” Kaleb reaches into his bag and wedges somewhere between his notebook for Chem 312, Men’s Health magazine, and a late 1800’s book called Beauty and Strength, he slips out a CD. “Tracks 3 and 9 are you. The recording is pretty decent and your vocals sound great.” Cameron takes the cardboard case and looks away saying stop it and go on without using words.
After they talk about the concert and normal pleasantries, asking how Mom and Rusty are doing or what Dad and Mel have been up to, Cameron starts telling Kaleb about her new job.
“It is kind of funny that you of all people are working at a Christian bookstore.”
“I know, I know.” Cameron says as she rolls her eyes playfully and takes a sip of her coffee. “But I needed another job, I like books, and the people are nice for the most part you know, it’s just the jerky boss that agitates me.”
“What’s up with him?”
“I don’t know… he just likes to micro-manage too much. And he freakin’ appears out of nowhere. I mean, I’ll be stocking the shelves by myself, nobody in the aisle, will bend down to get another handful of books and as I get up all of a sudden with no indication he’s standing right next to me asking how everything is going. He’s scared the shit out of me twice already and I’ve told him as much, which he responded that that language isn’t ‘professional.'”
“Right… but being creepy is good for customer/employee relations.”
“Exactly… I think he’s a vampire.” They both laugh which causes Cameron’s hand to shuffle, barely touching Kaleb’s on the table. Kaleb can’t remember the barista’s lips for a moment; after that moment Cameron pulls her hand back and tucks her brunette hair behind her right ear, taking another sip of her coffee.
“So… uhm… any cool products you’ve seen since working there.”
“Hmmm… some stuff here and there, not a lot.”
“What are the big sellers lately.”
“Actually, you’ll never believe this, but their is this weird ‘cosmetics’ sections in one of the corners. It’s kind of shady.”
“Cosmetics? You mean like novelty joke items?”
“No, we keep that crap by the register. This is the real deal. It’s almost as bad as the new tech stuff.”
“Yeah, I saw the Electronic Automatic Prayer Partner Pod that allows you to record a bunch of snippets and then it will pray your list randomly throughout the day.”
“Well this section actually sells things like the limp wrist / dictator hand combo that helps you to display either your passive or aggressive righteousness side and, get this, perma smiles… I don’t know if it’s botox or what but the catch phrase on the package is something like “Now everyone will know you have the joy of the Lord down in your heart.”
“Shut up,” Kaleb says with a slight Boston accent.
“No really, ” Cameron says with a look on her face like someone explaining a UFO – not understanding what it was, but simply telling you what they saw. “The two biggest sellers recently though have been silver hair dye (‘Look wise is minutes’) and then this fake feet thing which I don’t quite get.” Cameron tried to explain it and after a few minutes it clicked for Kaleb what it was all about.
“Some churches do foot washing specifically around Easter time, and I would bet it’s to make your foot look nice and clean. Heh… I mean I’ve even thought about how embarrassing it is for me to have somebody wash my one foot at times; I’ve had old man toe nails most of my life, but never thought to actually try to doctor it up or hide it somehow.”
“Old man toes? Ewww…”
“Well… it’s getting better you know and it’s not like I could help it,” Kaleb says somewhat nervous and defensively, though Cameron is only playing with him, “I try to keep them clean. I guess most of us don’t want others to see our grime.”
“I can understand that I guess, it’s still weird though.”
“Yeah, I’m not saying it’s a good thing.”
Cameron and Kaleb finish up some other conversational loose ends and start heading for the door. Kaleb grabs Cameron’s coat, opening it up to for an invite into chivalry. As Cameron slips her arms in to the coat, Kaleb gets a scent of her hair which smells like the kind in those commercial where when the women wash their hair they basically have an orgasm, but he tries not to notice. They side hug and walk out into the rain.
“Thanks for the coffee, Kale. See you in a few weeks.”
Cameron jets out across the street and into the open. Kaleb turns down the sidewalk hugging the side of the buildings, trying not to get wet.