An excerpt from Afternoon, by Robert Lampros:
“Will you feel good about this decision tomorrow?”
“It’s a guitar, Mom, it’s not like I’m dropping out of school.”
“What about Guatemala?”
“I’m not bailing on that.”
“You just spent all your money on a guitar.”
“It’s not just a guitar, Mom. This is a nineteen sixty-nine Fender Stratocaster, exactly like the one Dave Gilmour played on the Dark Side of the Moon tour. And I didn’t spend all my money. I spent four hundred and eighty-five dollars. That’s a steal, Mother.” I squinted and wiggled my eyebrows like a gunfighter in an old western movie.
“You’ve got three months to pay the fee, Andy, don’t wait until the last minute. This is a great opportunity to serve the Lord.”
“I’ll get the money, Mom. Sheesh.” I’d have to pick up some extra shifts at Ramsey’s, that was all. Two people had just quit so Ron was probably looking for someone anyway. The thing about my mom, she’s really cool most of the time, but then she’ll get super-strict for no reason. She thinks I don’t care about Guatemala. I care, okay?
Three cars. No, four cars. No. Five. Stay calm. Peace. Peace be with you. Mix the drink. Pour the stuff. Add the whipped cream, sprinkle the chocolate thingees, snap on the lid. “Presto!”
“You’re holding up the line, Drew. You’re squelching my whole operation.” Ron started using words like ‘squelching’ recently to avoid cussing at his employees.
“If I move any faster I’ll catch fire. This whole place might go up.”
“Just bring it, alright? Your A-game. All I ask.”
“Yes, sir.” The orders kept piling up. My eyes burned from sweat. You can try the best you can, you can try the best you can, the best you can is good enough. Singing at work has spared me countless nervous breakdowns.
“More sprinkles here, Drew. The ticket says extra sprinkles, see? Right there.”
“My bad, Ron.”
Ramsey’s was a good place to work most of the time. Ron opened it three years ago after returning from Arizona. He’d been in the desert for almost a decade, working at a camp for troubled teens. They did stuff like venture into the mountains for weeks with nothing more than a bag of rice and some water. He named the place after his mentor who’d gotten bit by a rattlesnake out there and died. Upon returning to civilization Ron saw all the cafés and figured coffee was a good way to make a living. He didn’t seem very at home in the world. I think that’s why people liked him.
“How we doing on drivethru?” he asked.
“Down to three, no, five cars.”
“Good work, team! Keep it up! What’s this?”
“They wanted soy, not two percent,” said Jenny.
“Spam it! Okay, Drew, will you fix this, please? Spam-a-lot!”
The sun beamed at me through a pink and blue swirled haze as I left Ramsey’s that night. Double shifts always induced a sort of amnesia. I’d gradually forget everything that existed beyond our red and beige coffee den until the time came to exit through its tinted glass doors. It was a Saturday. I checked my phone. 3 calls and 1 text, all from Robby.
Doooood!!!!!!!! I have one word for you: THE SINK!!!
A shock of cold crashed over my head rushed down my back and legs then out through the soles of my feet. Darkness turned deep blue fading lighter and washing away into a clear night sky.