Apoorv Kumar

The Coffee Shop

On a breezy summer night, four characters sat in a cozy coffee shop. The owner, Whitney Whitmore, leaned against the shiny red counter, wondering why he hadn’t thrown out his three customers considering it was four minutes past closing. He looked around for something to clean but quickly fell back into a trance and stared out into the dark street.

Lt. Bureagaurd, a short, muscular CIA agent, looked through his binoculars. He was crouched on a dark rooftop across a coffee shop. He blinked and yawned. An hour ago he was called after an informant reported that Yacov and Ivanna, Russian masterminds of the greatest spying operations of the Cold War, had entered a coffee shop. After 12 years on the run, they were dead-ended and they didn’t know it. He peered through his binoculars again. There were two civilians, a regular customer and the owner, and the notorious duo. Bureagaurd’s orders gave him no choice but to commence the operation.

The lieutenant took no risks. He called his demolition expert, Martin, who stood in a shady alley next to the shop. Martin meticulously set up the explosive devise, which would easily destroy the coffee shop, and disappeared into the dark night. A nervous man, Bureagaurd worried whether he had left any hint of CIA involvement. He shivered, taking a final look at the coffee shop, and began climbing the fire escape towards his Mercedes. A neon red light flashed from the metal box to reveal a message on the device: 4:59 to detonation.

Yacov admired his Swiss watch as seconds crept by. With a four-digit price tag, it was the centerpiece on his “rich businessman” look. The strap was dark polished leather like coffee and the golden hands gave the time accurately to the hundredth of a second. His crisp shirt softly crackled as he brought his coffee cup to his lips. The tension was high as everybody sensed that something was wrong. Even Whit felt this; he looked down at the cash register and saw a note from his young employee who ran a day shift.

“Running out of thyme!” the yellow note exclaimed. Whit sighed, knowing that most stores were closed at this time and that the next time he planned on buying new supplies was over the weekend.

Meanwhile Ivanna, looked around uneasily for anything suspicious. A police car alarm rang in the distance, shattering the silence of the street. As her eyes scanned the shop, she noticed how neat and bright everything was. The tile floor reflected the ceiling lights and the fluffy red seat cushions gave her momentary peace. The owner, a friendly-looking and slight overweigh man, stood like a statue, intently staring into the street. As she calmed down she noticed the clock, which was slightly crooked. Its irregular “tic-toc” echoed off the cold, hard tile. The minute hand creaked forward, as the rusty and dusty second hand reached the twelve. It was 11:58, “two minutes to detonation” flashed on the metallic box outside.

Joseph Nyquist also felt the tension, he was a research scientist at a major company and was in despair. He had worked on a project for nearly his entire life, but today his funding was cut and he was desperate. He was twenty-five years old. His whole world had stopped as he raced for a solution to his project. Sitting hunched over at the other side of the shop, Nyquist, still wearing his lab coach, was methodically trying to comprehend pages of data. However he could not help but notice the young couple sitting at the other end of the bar. The two were dressed in matching business outfits. They drank their coffee in small sips. The man, a well dressed sturdy looking average office-goer, sat straight. His eyes scanned the room as if they had x-ray vision. His sharp nose added to his vulture-like nature. On the other hand the woman’s soft facial features and tan skin gave off a pleasant hue to offset her companion’s cold glare. “European Royalty,” he muttered to himself sarcastically as he noticed her velvet overcoat and gold ring. It was late and he had no more money to get coffee. His returned his tired gaze to the stack of papers, feeling the pressure to find the missing link. He unbuttoned his shirt because the pressure seemed to be choking him and crushing him at the same time.

His breathing grew louder, his eyes widened. He had found it. A wave of emotion flooded his mind. “Eureka!” he shouted incredulously and dashed out of the shop screaming like a lunatic. Whit’s shocked eyes followed the crazed creature as he realized that he hadn’t paid for his four cups of coffee.

“Heyyyy, you need to pay for that!” Whit shouted frantically, jumping over the counter and dashing towards the mad scientist in the street. Yacov sprung to his feet, ready for action. Being a stingy fellow himself, Yacov saw an opportunity to save some cash. He nodded to Ivanna and they innocently walked out of the shop into the cool night. As the screaming of the crazy customer faded away, they drove off, leaving the doomed scene.

Speeding away in his car, Lt. Bureagaurd’s hands shook with anticipation. Beads of sweat ran down his plump cheek as he came to grips with the fact that his twelve-year mission was finally complete. The pine-tree air freshener jiggled as Bureagaurd drove over a speed breaker. Bureagaurd could hardly contain himself; he swerved right losing control of his hands momentarily. He stopped his car and decided he needed something to drink to calm himself down. He opened the door of his sleek black Mercedes and walked into a bar. He was treated for minor injuries.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.