A “stream-of-conscious” story written in response to the On-line Writer’s Guild writing prompts for this week, specifically the first prompt. I ended-up taking a little longer than 25 minutes however. Enjoy.
Mr. Tren stepped into the diner and sat at his usual booth. The week had been long and busy, but it was now the weekend and he was looking forward to his Saturday morning ritual of scrambled eggs and a cup of coffee, black.
He was reading the paper when Penelope, the waitress, came by. “The usual Marv?”
“Oh you know me,” Mr. Tren said without looking away from his paper, “the weekend doesn’t start until I have some of your finest cup a’ joe.”
“Ah yes, of course. Thank you.”
Mr. Tren had been coming to this fine establishment for years. It was one of the few things in his life that he could rely on, a virtual foundation as other aspects of his life slip away.
It didn’t take long for the eggs to come. He didn’t start on them right away however as the coffee was not yet ready it seemed. A few minutes passed and his gaze finally lifted from the newspaper. He scanned the rest of the diner. It was sparse, but everyone he saw had cups of steaming hot coffee. When Penelope was walking by he said, “Um, excuse me. Sorry, but do you know the status of my coffee? I just can’t wait,” he smiled.
“Oh, right. Of course. Let me ask.”
“Thank you.” He returned to his paper; however, his mind kept wandering over to his watch. Nearly half an hour passed. The morning was almost over and his eggs had gone cold. No coffee.
“Penelope,” he said as the waiter passed.
“Sorry, hon, just a second,” she said with a slightly condescending tone. She continued by and went behind the counter. And to Mr. Tren’s amazement, she started serving some recent patrons their coffee. He was baffled by this. Angered even. His coffee had always been served to him in a timely manner.
Finally, he stood up and marched over to the counter. “Um, Penelope.”
“Yes, sorry. What is it hon?”
“Wha–oh, right…The machine is down, but don’t worry we will–”
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but you just served these fine gentlemen their coffees.”
“Right and that was before the machine went down.”
“Don’t worry Marv. Sit down and relax. You will have your coffee in no time.”
Mr. Tren returned to his seat, muttering to himself. He reopened the paper, briskly scanning stories he had already read.
Some time had passed. Mr. Tren checked his watch. It was already noon. This was getting ridiculous. He swiped the flies away from his eggs and chewed on their rubbery flesh.
“Oh, is the coffee machine–” He said to Penelope, but she just brushed right by him as if he wasn’t there and started chatting up a nearby booth. Mr. Tren threw his paper down onto his table and stomped over to Penelope and poked her shoulder.
She turned slowly over to Mr. Tren and gave an irritated grin. “Yes Mr. Tren?”
“Coffee. Right. Well, you’re just going to have to wait, okay? And I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch me.”
“Do you know how long?”
“…No.” She turned back to the table. “Sorry about that folks. Can I get you anything else?”
Mr. Tren headed back to his booth, but saw that a large man was now occupying it. “Um, excuse me, sir,” he said to the rugged gentleman. “I was sitting here.”
But the man didn’t say anything, didn’t even look at him. His eyes were too busy with the paper that was once Mr. Tren’s. Mr. Tren was about to say something else, but realized it was pointless. He walked to a different booth that was empty and sat. It wasn’t a bad seat, but it wasn’t ideal. The sunlight glared at him and the cushioning was old with cuts. However, at this point, he must be getting his coffee soon.
However, Mr. Tren was taken back by what he witnessed: Penelope serving the man who stole his spot a large cup of coffee. His coffee. His was at a loss for words. He had been a loyal patron at this establishment for over a decade, and this is how he was treated.
“Excuse me!” He called out to Penelope, making sure the whole place could hear him. “Can I get some coffee too! I’ve been waiting for over two hours!”
Penelope gave him a side glance and then resumed chatting with the large man.
“Hey! I know you heard me! I’ve been coming here for eleven and a half years now, and I’ve never been treated this way! Can I have some coffee, or what?”
Penelope visibly sighed and crawled over to Mr. Tren, her shoulders slouched. She pulled out her notepad. “What would you like, sir?”
“You’re joking right? You know what I want. I want a fresh cup of–”
“We’re out sir, anything else?”
“Yes sir. The young man over there took the last cup. But if you come by tomorrow–”
“NO! I want my coffee NOW! Not tomorrow! Not next year! NOW!”
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You are scaring the other–”
“NO! I’ve been here for–”
And that’s when the sky turned black, and everyone but Mr. Tren vanished. He looked around completely baffled.
“H-hello? Anyone here?” But the only answer he received were the flickering of the fluorescent lights above. “What in the world…”
He slowly patrolled the diner, but there were no signs of life.
But suddenly, a voice from out of nowhere hissed at him. “Why…” He stopped. The voice crawled down his spine. “Why couldn’t you…just have waited…”
“It was coming…you could have just waited…”
“I…I’m just a man.” Mr. Tren’s voice quivered. He cowered by the stools. “I’m…I haven’t done anything, please!”
But the voice continued. “You could have just waited…for your coffee…” And with that a barrage of different ghastly voices came at him. He couldn’t understand what they said, but they were not pleased. Mr. Tren shook.
“You had to ask…questions…” The voice rose above the others. “Now you have disturbed…the frequency…”
Mr. Tren whimpered. “Please…I’m sorry…I don’t need coffee! I don’t need it! Please let me go!” But the voices only got louder and louder. “Let me go! Let me go! Let me GO!”
And with that the voices were gone. Mr. Tren’s eyes opened and he was back at his usual spot. The sun glowed brightly in the window, but not at an upsetting angle, and everyone was here. Things were as they were before: normal.
“Are you okay hon?” Penelope was standing over him.
“Oh…” Mr. Tren tried to regain his composure. He grasped his paper like a security blanket. “Yes…Yes, I–”
“That’s good. You seemed a little upset there. But you know what I think could help you with that? Some scrambled eggs and a nice, hot cup of coffee? What do you say?”