Triple Shot Latte with Chocolate Sprinkles
Every morning I went to Brent’s Coffee Shop. It was a small affair, only a few tables, and a tiny bar with an old-looking espresso machine. It was quiet too. One of the many reasons it was my favourite place in the world. Not to mention that over the years, Brent himself had become a close friends. Unlike most, he was a good guy. Thoughtful, and candid. If it was in his mind, he said it. That’s what I loved about him. And I think everyone who wasn’t easily offended did too.
On this particular day in mid-January, the sun had forgone in showing its face, and despite being nine in the morning, the sky and street were still shrouded in a cloak of dull darkness. I wasn’t the type of person to dislike days like this. In their melancholy resided a subtle beauty, a true showing of how things actually were. Like Brent, I disliked false pretences. And I’d thought sunny days were exactly that.
Brent was always early to open, long before I got there. I had always wondered what he saw in his early mornings, in the still dark winter sky. I wondered if it was something specific, or a more general approach like my own. I never asked him. It seemed too personal a question. Some things are meant to be kept to their owners, no matter how mundane they might appear at first glance. I’ve always had a curiosity in why certain things mean so much to certain people. What’s hidden beneath never fails to amaze, to sadden, even. And as I walked to Brent’s on that chilly, dark morning, I thought about all the people on the street – the things they held within their minds that had never been allowed the time to be free, that had never been heard by outside ears.
As I walked through the door to his tiny cafe, the bell rang in the same timbre it did on most mornings. Brent, without turning, said, “hey man!”
“Hey yourself,” I replied as enthusiastically as my morning-mind would allow.
“Of course, what else?” The ‘usual’ consisted of a special, discounted, triple shot latte with chocolate sprinkles on top. As far as I understood it, coffee couldn’t be consumed in any other manner.
As with any other morning, I took my corner seat behind the small windowed partition at the back of the shop. It was cosy there, under the dim lights, beside the bookshelves full of old hardback books and trailing plants. It was my safe haven, my away-from-home alone place.
Moments later when I was settled, Brent delivered my tall, frothy latte. He took a seat across from me. “So, how are you on this fine morning?” He asked.
“As fine as any other morning… you know how it goes.”
He nodded, though I got a feeling he in fact didn’t. His mornings were my afternoons. Despite all else, we didn’t see eye to eye on that particular beast. “Can I ask you something,” he said, after staring into space for some time.
“Sure,” I said, taking a sip of my coffee and picking the book I’d been reading of the shelf.
“Why do you come here?” He asked.
I watched his eyes, and found it was an honest question. Coming from him I shouldn’t have thought any different, Brent lived off honesyt. And so, I thought about his question. I had been coming here for well over two years. Most days I was the only customer inside Brent’s at that time in the morning. Maybe I was the only one who talked to Brent in such a manner. Through my eyes that wasn’t something overly special. Just something… pleasant on all the not so pleasant days the world has to offer. “I… because I like it,” I said.
He studied me, “surely there’s more to it than that?”
“I… it’s quiet, I like the atmosphere, the coffee’s great, I have nowhere else to be. Does there have to be a definitive reason?”
“No… I ‘ve just always thought you were looking for something.” Brent said, cocking hs head to check the bar for customers.
“What, like a girl. Love?” I laughed.
“Maybe, I don’t know. You’re the only regular… regular person that comes in here. I thought there must be a deeper meaning. An ex-girlfriend, a wife maybe. Some connection that I couldn’t possibly make.”
I sat for a moment, thinking. “No… I just like it here.”
“You’re always alone?” Brent prodded.
“I suppose so. I like my own space. I don’t have very many friends. In fact, you’re the only person I could call that…”
“Just me?” He said, smiling, before retracting it instantly. “That’s a little sad.”
“I don’t think it’s sad… just different from the norm. People generally don’t like difference. That’s the problem.”
“You could be right.”
The bell rang, and the door closed. Brent looked over, before glancing back. “I’m invited to a party tonight, you wanna come?” He smiled.
“You’re inviting me to a party?”
“Sure, you can be my plus one. You in?” I look at him, a shy smile on my face. Of course, he is being deadly serious. Need I question that at all?
“Alright…I’d like that.” I said, nervously.
Over the past few months I’d been making it my directive to say YES! to things, and open myself up to the world. This was a opportunity. At the very least, it was that. At the most… something more. Maybe Brent was right. Maybe all that time I had been looking for something other than good coffee and a place to read. Maybe I had been hoping for something to happen.
I didn’t know. I didn’t think it mattered so much.
Though I remember feeling Brent meant more to me than most things in my life.