The cafe was almost full, to my surprise. The line went from the cash register all the way to the entrance. I could hear Beth--the woman who owned the cafe--shouting out the orders to Cris, one of the laziest but most entertaining baristas I've ever met and Adrian--the craftiest pastry chef I know. But whatever, I know that the flow of customers would die out soon. After all, almost everyone here is an adult, rushing to get their daily fix of caffine so that they’re wired for work.
I stood on my toes, looking over the crowd of people, hoping that Beth would see me. I raised my hand and waved, trying to get her attention. However, she kept hollering out orders as the line began to decrease, customer by customer. I looked around and determined my target: a stool by the counter. It was the perfect seat, not to mention my usual spot. With a brief breath, I move through the crowd, trying not to step on any shoes or brush against someone unintentionally. Once I made it through, I placed my bag on the counter and pushed back the seat. After I was comfortable in my seat, I opened my bag and pulled out a book that I’ve been trying to finish lately, but I never really had the time to. It was just random young adult/teen fiction junk I found at a garage sale years ago. From what I understand, this book wasn’t much a best seller, but oh well. It gave me something to do.
“Hey there, short stuff,” said a voice from behind me. Great, just when I’m ready to dive into the pages. I didn’t have to turn around to know who it was. Matthew Levine, Beth’s younger brother. He’s my age, but unlike me, he’s homeschooled. Lucky bastard. He gets to spend his whole day on the computer when I get yelled at for just glancing at mine. I shrugged my shoulders and opened the front cover of the book, examining the aged paper and unknown stains.
“What do you want, Matt?” I asked gruffly as I flipped the pages of the book, trying to find the last page I read. I should really keep a bookmark.
“Aw, c’mon shorty. Don’t be so mean,” he whined as he grabbed my shoulders and began to shake me back an forth, nearly knocking me off of the seat. I immediately grabbed onto the edge of the counter, trying to keep myself from falling. God, that'd be embarrassing.
I turned around and glowered at Matt, who seemed unaffected by my expression. His smile prevailed, like always.
“I’m not being mean,” I shot back. “I’m just tired.” He stepped back and put his hand to his chin with his typical “Really? That’s unusual” expression. “What? I am!” I said a little louder, gaining attention from the people in line. Wait, did the line just get longer? I shook my head. “Whatever, just get to work already,” I muttered. “You have all of these people to attend to.”
Matt flailed his arms like a child and pouted. “But Jamie!” He whined. Seriously, can’t this guy grow up? “You’re just as important! You’re a customer, too!” I snicked. “Yeah, yeah.” I said, motioning my hand toward the counter. “You need to get back to work. You can talk to me when the crowd thins out, okay?” I said, sounding like his mother, or something like that. “We’ll talk about whatever you want.” He merely smiled and went back to the counter, still smiling. Now, back to whatever the hell book I have.
After a few minutes, the ocean of people dwindled down to only two or three people who were waiting for Cris to finish their drinks. I heaved a sigh and took out my cell phone. Ten o'clock on the dot. This is usually the time when the flow of customers stop, but only for about two hours. And I preferred it that way. That means that I get the cafe all to myself. I can have whatever leftovers from the morning since Beth can't stand the thought of giving her customers anything over five hours old. I guess I'm just an exception to that.
"Thanks, you guys. The coffee's good, like always!" shouted one of the customers as they walked out the door.
"Please come again!" Beth hollered back to them as she waved. She then turned to me and smiled. I already knew what she was going to say, so I got up from the stool and walked over behind the counter, where Cris was working on several drink. I'm guessing that it's for us. Beth patted my back, the smack! loud enough for someone outside to hear. I winced and looked over at Cris, who was snickering.
"Alright, my favorite garbage disposal," Beth said. "I have some work for you to do." I rubbed my back and looked down at the floor. "So what's on the menu this morning?"
Beth stuck out her chest proudly as she placed her hands on her hips. "Well, if your sweet tooth's up and running," she started, "you have a few options. I have some fruit tarts left over. But if you're really hungry, I have some breakfast bagels--unless you prefer croisssants." As she listed more things, Cris poked my shoulder and handed me my usual: a medium cafe mocha.
"Boss, you shouldn't feed her so much," Cris said. "At the rate we're going, she's gonna gain what? Eighty pounds?" He looked back at me, his eyes scanning me up and down. "Don't take this in a creepy way Jay, but you're body's perfect. Your bust, your waist, your hips...everything's fine! And if you were older, I'd--"
"Shut it!" Beth shouted as he smacked Cris' head with a towel, making me laugh. Cris rubbed his head, dashing behind me. "What?! It's true!" he reasoned. Beth merely crossed her arms, unamused.
"That may be so, but you don't go around sexually harrassing my valued customers!" she shot back, making me laugh harder. "I'm doing no such thing!" Cris said defensively, stepping away from me. "Jay, did I offend you in any way?" I shook my head. I actually didn't really care about what Cris said. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but my body was in pretty good shape. That's what being on a sports team does to you.
"No," I replied. "In fact, I'm really flattered." Beth rolled her eyes at this, sensing the playful tone in my voice.
"Besides, boss," Cris started, "if that counted as sexual harassment, then Adrie and Mattie are twice as guilty! They flirt with some of the customers and stuff!"
"Hey, man! Not cool!" Adrian shouted from the kitchen. "Matt, you hearin' this?" he said even louder. "Yeah, I hear him!" Matt shouted back. I guess Matt was getting some supplies in the back or something. "Prissy Crissy's rattin' us out bro!" he shouted, making Beth chuckle.
"I am not prissy, you flamboyant pastry!" Cris yelled, crossing his arms.
"And that's why the ladies love me," Adrian said as he walked out of the kitchen and into our sight, wiping his hands with his apron. He pushed his hair back flirtatiously and winked at me. "Right Jamie? You know you love me more than Cris, right?"
"Oh, please! Jamie loves me more than both of you!" Matt declared as he walked in with a large cardboard box in his arms. "You geezers have no chance against a young stud like me."
It was at that point where both Beth and I bursted out laughing. "Y-You...you guys are idiots!" I said in between laughs, almost unable to talk coherrently. "B-Beth, why did you ever...why...why did you hire these guys?!" Beth shook her head, slamming her hand on the counter. "I-I don't know!"
"So Jay...pick one. Either me, Adrie, or Mattie boy!" Cris said. "You guys, stop." I said, catching my breath. "I'm not choosing either of you at the moment."
"Yeah, and if you guys keep this up," Beth said, "I'm putting it on your record that you sexually harass female customers."
As all of the guys protested, I smile and take a sip of my drink, looking out the window. It was there that I noticed that someone was looking into the cafe. I leaned to the side to get a better look at the person. My eyes widened and without knowing it at the time, I dropped the cup and ran over to the door, not even noticing Beth and everyone's voices asking my what's wrong. By the time I opened the door to look at the person, they were gone.
She looked like Casey...