I go to the same coffee place every morning for a fresh-squeezed juice. And every day I see a few of the same people. People I have never spoken with, but who I make up stories for anyway.

One guy was the lead singer for the band The Cult. Or rather, he was the original lead singer before they got the guy you know and love. His hair is jet black straight down to his ass. And he wears reptile skin boots and sunglasses. Even when it’s cloudy. He’s cool and distant.

Then there’s another guy in his late-50s who looks a little like Bernie Sanders, but without glasses. He’s loud. And he doesn’t care who is around when he talks or rants. One day I saw him berating two young poll takers outside of the store. “YOU CAN’T COME HERE. THIS IS AMERICA. WHO ARE YOU TO TAKE A POLL OF WHETHER PEOPLE SUPPORT OBAMACARE. HE’S AN ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT ANYWAY. AND I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM. LEAVE. LEAVE THIS PREMISES AND GO BACK TO YOUR MOTHER’S BASEMENTS. GO.”

He also threw some expletives around, but I thought I’d spare you those. This is the kind of guy who when he drives he doesn’t use turn signals because, “I ALREADY KNOW WHERE I’M GOING, JACKASS.” He lives alone. He lives for his morning coffee at this place. He and the old lead singer of The Cult are not friends, as far as I can tell.

After a few years, one day last week we finally spoke. He had just paid for his coffee and was leaving the counter when I ordered my juice.

YOU KNOW WHAT, GIVE ME A PACK OF CAMELS mad Bernie Sanders said to the girl behind the counter, pushing his way in front of me. WHAT’S THE POINT OF COFFEE IF YOU DON’T HAVE CIGARETTES? he said to her.

Then he turned to me. AM I RIGHT?

I didn’t respond.

He got his Camels and started to pat them on the heel of his left hand. SO I SEE YOU HERE EVERY DAY. WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

I cleared my throat. “I do not wish to speak with you,” I said.


“Because you’re a loud fellow and I’m not comfortable around you.”

WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? mad Bernie said with a scowl.

“It’s just simpler than saying, ‘You’re an obnoxious prick and I don’t want to know you.’ Wouldn’t you agree?” Then I struck my straw through the lid of the juice with some force, looked him square in the eyes, and said, “Good day, sir.” And left.

And that’s how it is. In my head. Every damn day.



Billy Tang's Big Idea
Crayon World

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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