Malcolm Fowler, Aneurysm, 2.34pm
Einstein Brothers is wall to wall packed. I’m waiting in line to pay for my toasted Everything Bagel with cream cheese and a bottle of orange juice. The guy in front of me reeks of garlic but is holding a cinnamon bagel and a smoothie.
When I finally get back outside the wind and noise from the city feels like a cool bath. I walk down to the library and sit on the front steps, eating my breakfast and watching the city shake off the hangovers from the night before. I’m smack dab in the middle of a double shift so my senses are on fire and I can tell who spent the night in the company of a tequila bottle (brown suit, blue tie) and who didn’t get a wink of sleep thanks to a marathon viewing of first season Star Trek episodes (green skirt, comfortable shoes)
I’m sleep deprived and a bit loopy from 7 back to back intakes within the past 5 hours but the heady buzz it leaves me is almost worth it. I check my watch and realize I should be on my way to the West Side by now. The bus stop is only a block away so I don’t rush. Not today.
I’m tempted to just slip under right here and let people move through me, but I don’t.
Several hours later the heady buzz has worn off and I’m just plain tired. One more intake to go and I stop in at BP for a coffee.
“You don’t want that one”, a voice from across the shop. I put the coffee pot down and look up. A woman with the black, kinky hair of a gypsy walks over to me, “For reals,” she’s chewing fruit gum, “This shit has been sitting here all day. If you really want Colombian, I’ll fire up another pot.”
“Uh, no,” I shake my head, and blink hard, “No, I just need caffeine, I don’t really care what it is.”
She smiles and nods toward an unlabeled pot behind the others. “That’s the one I make for myself. If you really need a punch, it’s right there. Otherwise, the French Roast is pretty nice.” Her smile makes her gum snap.
I offer up a smile of my own as she walks back to the counter. I grab the pot from the back…