A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.
by Marcus Jonathan Chapman
The waitress eyed his mug like a Black Friday shopper eyeing the father who just grabbed the last Tickle-Me-Elmo. His knuckles white from keeping a tight grip through the handle around the sphere of the terracotta cup. His eyes glancing at the waitress and back at the coffee, half full and still steaming in his hand. The waitresses grip on the coffee pot equally as tight, a white band appearing where her choke hold on the handle, pressed against her wedding band and drained the blood around that finger.
He watched as she delivered a plate of egg whites to an older man two tables away. Then she walked over to his table.
“How is everything?” her question a distraction to her real intention. A rope-a-dope as her coffee pot hand darted forward across the table toward his mug.
“Everything is great, thank you.” He said, taking a sip from his coffee and bringing closer to his being, away from the hovering mother ship of coffee.
“Great, I’ll be back to check on you.” She wavered eyeing the mug, her hand beginning to shake from the extension of the nearly full pot in her hand. The moment passed and she retreated, moving on to the next table, where their mugs were exposed, and she filled to the brim each one with steaming coffee.
His mind was quiet. Eating alone, he’d become accustomed to the silence in his immediate vicinity. The conversations and cacophony of forks, knives and cups clattering spilled over into his space, but that was to be expected.
The waitress stopped at the coffee maker and began reloading her pot. She glanced back at his table; the mug still locked in his hand. She nearly spilled the coffee but there was more than enough in the chamber to cock back and fire more coffee into his cup, no matter how full it may have been.
She walked straight back to his table. “Refill?” The pot hovering inches from his mug-holding hand.
“No thank you,” he replied.
“Are you sure?” She insisted, pushing the pot closer to him until they nearly made a toast.
“Yes, I’m quite satisfied with the amount I have, one cup is enough.”
“Well, refills are free, sir, don’t be shy.” She was on the attack. He still stayed on the polite defense.
“That’s a great policy but I think I’ll have had my fill with just this one cup, thank you.”
“Okay, I’ll be back to make sure.” She fired back. This shot wiped out his front line and civility became the casualty.
“Ma’am, no need to come back. I only want one cup of coffee.” The smile on his face turned a few degrees to a thin line.
“Okay, we’ll I’ll be back in a few minutes to make sure. People change their minds.” She threatened to leave but her smile faded, and she stayed, her arm shaking from holding the full pot out in front of her.
“Do not come back. I have finished my meal and once I finish this very cup of coffee, this single cup of coffee, I will pay my bill and leave. Should you continue insisting, I will be forced to leave only a 10% gratuity.”
“Sir, are you not happy with our service?” Her brow furrowed and the line became a frown. His brow furrowed and the thin line became a frown.
“Your service is excellent, perhaps a bit too much. It could be said that there is too much service. And if there should be too much of something, it is still inadequate.”
“I will refill that mug.” She pushed the pot against his mug, threatening to tilt its spout into his mug.
“You will not.” He pulled the mug away.
“I will provide this service as per our policy.”
“Policy be damned, I would rather die than accept your refill.”