Saturday, November 12, 2011

Black Coffee (5,1)

The coffee shop was more pretentious than he'd expected of the small Wisconsin town. Large cut stone tiles lined the floor, interspersed here and there with vignettes designed to entice, stocked of course with overpriced coffee, cups, and trinkets. The menu sported the usual fussy list, but Merit ordered a coffee – black. It was the third coffee that he'd walked back to the corner table where he sat – alone. Merit was accustomed to being abandoned by his brother, but that did not make this time any easier. His hand traced slow seeping arcs across his eyebrows in an attempt to release the tension there. His brother, Mason, would have ordered a double shot of espresso to be sipped between smart phone texts, tweets, and perusals. He'd have arrived late and worn a vest over an ironed and cuff linked shirt. The cuff links were Mason's nod to their father, who had brought them up in the look good, feel good, do good school. “Good” being a rather sketchy term that was roughly equivalent to “win at all costs.” Next to his father and brother's well groomed appearance, Mason always felt like he'd just rolled out of bed. Actually, he liked to think that is all that he ever did – roll out of bed – but his tousled brown hair and beat up jeans could not disguise the well groomed eyebrows, the designer shoes, and about the most expensive plain white T shirts that money could buy. The Woodson's, even just rolling out of bed, couldn't help but look like they belonged in a Ralph Lauren commercial.

Sighing, and drinking without tasting it, he tried to focus on the task at hand, coaching himself with his father's familiar words, “time waits for no one.” He only had four days – by Tuesday at 3pm everything had to be done – and if it wasn't, then “too bad, so sad.” (another favorite quote). The first item on the list was one of many that he was dreading - phone calls. Not that anyone would be surprised by his call. The goings-on of the two Woodson brothers rarely went unnoticed. Mason was as famous for getting into trouble as Merit was for his cycling prowess. Mason had just turned 34 last month and ended up with a rather unflattering birthday photo in the people section of the local newspaper. Merit, younger by 9 months, kept hoping Mason would grow up. He grinned at the irony and noticed that his coffee cup was empty again. Swearing under his breath he packed up his things and began the five block walk home to his new apartment. Despite all of the unpacked boxes, the phone calls would be easier to make there. Merit, of course, had promised to help with the move, but was a no show – big surprise.

Mason had been leaving Merit high and dry since they were kids. One of the first times was when they were both eight. It was during the three sweet spot months that Merit could claim to be as old as his brother. The two had been playing hide and seek at the park where they were camping with their father for a boys only weekend. The beautiful weather and gorgeous mountain backdrop made it a very popular weekend destination. While Mason hid, Merit covered his eyes and started counting, skipping a few numbers toward the end in his hurry to get to 100. But Mason had jumped ship at about thirty-seven when he spied a group of kids gathering for a game of ball. He grinned at the memory – not because he enjoyed being abandoned, but Mason always did seemed to pay for his actions He ended up with a black eye that day – about the size and shape of a baseball. Although he never gave any specifics about the incident, their father seemed to take some pleasure in the day's events. He believed in a good knocking down every once in a while - “builds character.”

When Merit looked up, he realized he was at 912 Grace Street. His flat was on the third floor. It had two bedrooms, two baths, a generous living room and a modern galley kitchen hidden somewhere behind all of the unopened boxes. He set his stuff down on one box and pushed some others out of the way so he could sit. The first person he needed to call was their grandmother. He wished Mason could have made the call – he was the chattier of the two. He could just imagine Mason's end of the conversation . . .

“Bama! So good to hear your voice. What are you doing home on a gorgeous Saturday – you should out at the park turning all the men's heads.”

“Oh, well I don't believe that for a minute! You always look lovely. In fact, we have a family gathering on Tuesday – I'd love for you to come – you can even bring a date.”

“It will be at St. Mark's at 3:00pm. I think a lot of people will be wearing black, but you know how I love that blue dress of yours.”

“Oh, no, not a wedding I'm afraid. Something a little more subdued – a funeral in fact. Seems I've gone off and died . . .”

“Oh, now, now, Bama – don't take it so hard.”

Yes I know you had that lovely girl you wanted me to meet last week. You know I don't like blind dates. Hell, I told Merit I'd help with his move just to dodge that bullet.

“I mean heck – sorry about that.”

“Well, Bama, you know me. Seems I've angered the wrong pretty girl. She didn't mean to kill me of course, but accidents happen.”

“No, no, no – nothing as bad as all that. It will be an open coffin and I'll be in my Sunday best.”

“Of course - loves ya Bama – see you then . . . “

Author's Note:  This post was in response to a dice roll of five and one.  Peace, Luv, and Enchiladas!

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