by John S
A man searches for coffee and trouble and finds both.
I wanted a cup of coffee and I needed it now. Caffeine was my lifeblood and it was after ten o’clock in the morning and I hadn’t had my first infusion as of yet. I roamed the dark and grimy streets of this one-horse town searching for that elusive cup of coffee, like a street junkie looking for his next fix. This was a strange town to me and generally strange because I couldn’t find a Starbucks or even a diner to give me my jolt. What the hell, everywhere else I’d gone to work they’d been on almost every street corner. This had to be the sleepiest town I’d ever been in because there was no freaking coffee anywhere.
I was one miserable son of a bitch. I was staying at a real fleabag hotel, the only accommodations in town. I saw a police car parked up ahead. I approached the car with the intent of asking the cop inside where I could get a good cup of coffee. After all, who would know more about donuts and coffee than a cop. My bad luck continued, the car was unoccupied. I didn’t spend too much time around the car. Something like that could get you arrested or shot if the wrong kind of cop saw you.
I walked on. I saw a homeless guy about halfway down the block. As I got closer and before I could say a word the guy looked at me and asked, “Can you spare a dollar for a cup of coffee?”
“Yea, but where the fuck would you get the coffee?” I must have sounded a little crazed when I said it. The poor guy took off running, leaving his shopping cart full of treasures behind.
Dejected and disheartened I decided it was best to return to the Hotel Fleabag. The desk clerk was no help, he said he didn’t drink coffee. He was probably some kind of communist. I returned to my room on the second floor. I took the 45 automatic and its holster out of my suitcase. I checked the load and strapped it on. It was time to go to work.
I had the target’s name and address. The commie desk clerk was able to direct me to the address. It wasn’t very far so I walked. I was getting twenty-five grand for the job, so I had to be sure I had the right guy. He lived on the third floor of a building that had seen better days. Why would someone pay twenty-five grand for a hit on someone who lived in a dump like it was beyond me. My target had a funny name, “Gunther” so I knew I had the right address and floor. Gunther Sachs lived in apartment 3C. I rang the doorbell and got ready for action. I had my hand under my coat on the 45.
No-one came to the door and I couldn’t hear any noise coming from inside. I rang the bell again, nothing. A little old lady from down the hall must have heard me, she came out of her apartment and asked if she could help. I asked her if she knew Gunther. I told her I was his cousin passing through town and I wanted to surprise him. She was happy to help. “Gunther is at work,” she said. When she told me where he worked, I almost broke down and cried. She gave me directions and I was on my way.
I’d found my prey and the only Starbucks in town at the same location. He was standing there smiling behind the counter. He was a proud barista named Gunther, or so his nametag said. The place was empty except for me and Gunther.
“I would like a grande Sumatra?”
“Coming right up, sir. Would you like room for milk with that?”
“No thanks, Gunter I won’t need milk.”
Gunther turned and loaded the cup with brown gold. I paid for the coffee and went to add sugar.
After stirring in the sugar, I returned to the counter. “Something else, sir?” Gunther asked. I didn’t reply, instead I shot him between the eyes, making a rather large hole in his big forehead. Twenty-five grand and a great cup of coffee, not bad for a day's work.
I stepped out into blinding sunshine. I heard them before I saw their blue uniforms. A strong, authoritative voice announced, “freeze.” I froze. My vision cleared and there stood three uniformed cops with their weapons pointed squarely at my person.
What could I do? I was quick and agile and the three officers facing me looked soft and scared. I saw my chance, I took it. I dove to the street on my left, drawing my gun as I did. I got off two shots before the cops reacted. I took down two of the three. The third cop didn’t hesitate, his two shots hit me in the chest.
I woke with bright lights above me. Three or four masked doctors and nurses were staring down at me. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the conversation was frenzied. The last sound I heard was a steady beep from one of the machines I was hooked up to. From watching numerous TV shows I knew the sound meant I had flatlined and was dead.
I didn’t know how I got on the line, but here I was. Hundreds of people were all in single file looking straight ahead in silence. I turned to the woman behind me to ask what the hell was going on. My voice wouldn’t work. The line moved forward a couple of feet and I moved ahead with it. Looking around me all I could see was a line with no beginning or end. I saw people of all races. Sizes, and ages. I even spotted a few kids mixed in. The line moved forward again, I moved too, not because I wanted to, but because a force beyond my control moved me along.
I was dead and I assumed so were the others in line. I looked down and saw I was wearing some kind of white tunic, just like everyone else. I looked inside the tunic and saw that the bullet holes in my chest were gone. We moved up again in unison. I should have felt fear or even panic, but I felt nothing. I was in neutral and couldn’t get into first gear.
After several more moves up I saw what looked like some kind of gathering ahead. The closer I got, the clearer the scene became. I realized that I’d seen the scene before at Sunday School. A white-haired man with a very long beard stood in front of a gigantic gate. I couldn’t tell if the gate was pearly because I didn’t know what pearly was. St. Peter was either opening the gate for some and sending others to the left and an uncertain future. I believe most were headed for hell with a few lucky ones heading for Purgatory. I knew where I was going, an express to the fiery depths of the devil’s domain.
I’d killed men and women for money. I’d spent my life stealing, abusing men and women, drinking, lying, and carousing. Worst of all I’d voted for Donald Trump, if anyone was going straight to hell it was me. When I got to the head of the line, I didn’t even look at St. Peter I moved to the left.
“Where are you going son?” St. Peter asked.
“To where I deserve to be, I guess.”
“No, you can go through the gate to your eternal reward.”
“Are you sure?” I thought there had to be a major computer malfunction in heaven.
“Yes, please enter.”
I almost ran through the gate, I wasn’t going to give good old St. Peter a chance to change his mind. I got a few feet inside heaven and was grabbed by each arm by two gigantic, foul smelling, fire breathing, Hilary Clinton look-a-likes. They dragged me outside the gate, not too gently.
St. Peter stood there smiling, “We had you going there for a second there, didn’t we? We do that to all the truly evil ones who come here for judgement.”