A Story About Us

There are two types of people in this world: those who sit in cafes and those who sit in discord with one another in cafes. In this case, I’m speaking of the latter. I am at a rundown, condemned-worthy cafe in the middle of Indiana. I have had 7ish cups of coffee at this point when I notice the vibration in my hands for the first time. Everything seems to be “for the first time” when you pay attention to minor details. I’ve always known that my hands get shaky the more I indulge in the unlimited coffee, but I’ve never actually taken notice until today. I notice other things, too. For example, the forest green paint on the walls has been applied and reapplied for the last decade so many times, it’s hard to determine if the pipes in the walls are leaking or if the owner just got lazy and slopped the paint on there. Either way, it looks like shit. But, it works well for this place. You won’t find a better cup of coffee anywhere other than Daryl’s JavaHut. The burnt-orange corduroy love seats used to be plush and perfectly comfortable, but ass after ass has deteriorated it’s once inviting cushions. Some nights, Daryl would let the drifters who were passing through town sleep on these couches in exchange for cleaning up the shop, but ever since they built a bypass, the cafe doesn’t get much business. Neither car nor transient stops by; it’s become a “locals only” sort of relic. Today in particular, I’m not the only one in this shabby little building. Tom Canton and his wife Shelly are here, too. The Canton’s are a farming family. They grow mostly beets and corn, but from time to time, they’ve been known to produce a batch of green beans in addition to their main yield. Tom is 50-something with grey hair and hard lines embedded in his face. He is always wearing a white t-shirt with a breast pocket, and tucked away in this pocket is a blue notebook and a pen. Tom owns more than one pair of jeans, but you wouldn’t know because each pair looks identical to the next; sun-bleached and forever dusty. His suspenders are old and worn, but “it’s damn hard to find a quality pair of ‘spenders these days” Tom once said to me. The same day every year, he buys a new pair of boots from Sam’s Shoe Shop. He trades in his old boots, rust red and tattered, for a brand new pair. I know this because I buy a new pair of boots from the same place, same day, same time, every year. Afterwards we stand outside under the awning of the store, sheltered from the midwestern, August sun, making small talk about crops, the weather and politics. Tom, smoking his pipe, fidgeting with his straw hat; me, trying my best to keep the conversation flowing. This is how most interaction goes around here. Painful. I don’t know much about his wife. She looks similar to Tom; long blonde hair turning into long grey hair; a lined and wrinkled face; tall-ish. I think she’s a homemaker. Cooking, cleaning, and raising the kids is all I’ve ever known her to do. Hell, it’s all anyone has ever known her to do. After the kids grew up and moved away, people saw her less and less. She didn’t need to make trips into town as often and for a while, there was talk that she’d passed. They don’t look very happy today, Tom and Shelly. I can only imagine the drought has wreaked havoc on their output this year. They say money is the root of all that is evil and that more people get divorced over money problems than any other reason. Judging by the look on Toms face, I’d say I was correct. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I’m sure I’ll find out in a couple weeks when I go to Sam’s.

-Zac Hazzard