Black Coffee

Harry impatiently checked the time, expressing an irritated sigh when he noted that Karen was twenty minutes late. A third of his lunch hour had passed, and he hadn't even had a cup of coffee.

It had been Karen's idea to meet at the mall, grab a quick lunch, and then spend the rest of the hour picking out a birthday present for Bernard, who would be turning thirteen in two weeks.

Shaking his head, he decided not to wait any longer. Spotting the familiar green and white logo of a popular coffee house, he made his way over.

His irritation grew as he took his place in an impossibly long line of patrons. He checked his watch once more, and stifled another sigh.

His feet had begun to ache from standing in place for too long, and he struggled not to roll his eyes as he listened to one complicated order after another.

Fifteen more minutes had passed, and Harry was no longer trying to hide his impatience. As the young woman in line ahead of him stepped away with her half sugar, chocolate syrup, and whatever else she had contaminated the drink with, he muttered darkly, "Finally!", and stepped up to the counter.

"How may I help you, sir?" The bouncy clerk smiled, and waited expectantly, ready to race to the bank of urns, and create an absurd concoction just for him.

"Large. Black." He snapped sharply as he reached for his wallet. He was running out of time, and would need to head back to the office soon.

"We're having a special today." The clerk chirped, disregarding his curtly delivered order. "When you buy a large mocha latte with any combination, we super-size it for half-price."

Harry stared at her for a moment, then blinked. She had spoken so quickly, he wasn't exactly sure he'd caught all she said.

"Uhh...no, thank you." He reminded himself to smile, but his teeth were clamped so tightly together, it came off more as a pain-filled grimace.

"Would you care for a dollop of whipped cream, or a splash of vanilla?"

"No...just black." He replied, adding for emphasis, "Large."

She turned, and filled a large cup, and grabbed the proper lid. "A dash of cinnamon or a few chocolate curls?" She pressed as she placed the cup before him, lid poised in mid-air, eyebrow raised expectantly.

Harry threw his hands up in the air, then grabbed for the cup and lid.

"I don't want any hints, or twists, teases or swirls of any damned kind! I want coffee...large...black...thank you!" He slammed the lid onto the cup, and flipped the money across the counter toward the startled attendant.

As he turned to the door, he spotted Karen, waiting just inside.

"I suppose you didn't think to get one for me, did you?" She asked, dryly, as he approached.

"Oh, for the love of...!" He handed his large coffee to his wife, and sullenly took his place in line. "I'm going to be late back to the office." He muttered, resigned to his fate.