EXCERPT: Enjoy the Coffee Black
Enjoy the Coffee Black is the first story in the table of contents of my current anthology project, titled Maudlin Thoughts and Other Intangible Things. In it, Sam has just moved from the suburbs into the city, where he intends to discover himself after newly coming out to his family. From his parents' misgivings, Sam and Colton - the first connection in the world outside of Sam's sheltered upbringing - alchemize anxiety into power.
I had been in Houston for three weeks when Colton took me to a coffeehouse that I found to be my new favorite. On a Saturday morning, we sat on the terrace outside, in the shade. Colton held his cigarette as if it were a joint. “Why do you want to know?” he asked, half playfully. He stared at the train pulling from the station, a coy smile betraying a disingenuous flirt. “You never take that bracelet off.” He blew smoke off toward the twenty or so people milling about on the metro platform and focused on me. “It belonged to my ex. I kept it after he died,” he said, “The fang here is a locket. I just feel like I’ve got him with me sometimes, that’s all.” That’s all. I shifted in my seat. “Do you want to talk about it?” “His name was Kit, and everyone said he looked like he could have been my brother,” he chuckled, which I felt was permission to chuckle, too. “Losing Kit was hard, but it’s been about a year now and I’m still here, so…” He shrugged and took another drag. He adjusted his cigarette, placing it between his index and middle finger, decked with a couple golden rings, then grabbed the mug of coffee from between us. He looked up at the sky, clenching his teeth holding the smoke in. “Sometimes I wonder if I should join him,” he exhaled the smoke, “and then I wonder if those thoughts are real, of if they’re a cry for help. I haven’t decided yet.” His view turned from the sky to me. “And what does that mean?” My coffee was nearly full, and about the same temperature as the air around us. “I dunno. I haven’t decided yet.” He winked, smiled, and took another sip. “I wish you two could have met. He had a good soul.” “In keeping him close to you, you think he guides you in some way?” “I do, I guess. And if he were here, he could guide you now that you’re out here on your own in the big, wide world. You’re meek. Pliable,” he chuckled as he crushed his hands together as if squeezing the water out from a bundle of wet rags. I chuckled along with him. He finished the last sip of his coffee, and took a sip of mine. He grabbed his keys, “Let’s go, I’ve got a haircut in twenty minutes.”
About "Maudlin Thoughts":
Maudlin Thoughts and Other Intangible Things is a lengthy anthology work-in-progress that I have written between Houston and New York City over the course of several years. While the anthology as a whole is made of works of fiction, loose themes are based on or inspired by real people, real experiences, and real places.
© Barrett White, 2020.