THE SHINE JOURNAL

Flash Literature, Poetry, Art and Photography!

Groundskeeper

 

By

 

Joanne Faries

 

 

 

The pungent aroma engulfed my nose before the gurgling coffee pot sound erupted. I rounded the corner of the office kitchen to find the room empty save for the lava flow of grounds and tan water bubbling from the plastic Mr. K machine. The company would not spring for an industrial pot and this imitation dispenser never worked properly.

 

“Leave the mess for another?” My conscience tweaked and I yanked on the roll of paper towels. I stood back to avoid splatter on my white blouse, dabbed the countertop, and turned my head to avoid the fumes. The bitterness gagged me. I managed to get the wadded up coffee filter out of the swinging arm and fling its remains into the trash. Like sand at the shore, the fine coffee pebbles stuck to any surface they touched. I re-washed the pot, wiped the counter, swiped the waste can, and rinsed my grainy hands. The job was done - my reward a soda, since my caffeine requirement was cold and fizzy. 

 

“Hey, nobody made the coffee,” my boss said in the hallway. Though I arrived in the morning before others, I vowed a year ago to be finished with the coffee-making chore and everyone’s comments – too strong, too weak, wrong brand, or gross flavor choice. Consequently, coffee preparation was now a haphazard affair. I dodged into my office, shrugged, sat, and popped the can.

 

Budget forecasts consumed my morning. I stretched and checked an incoming email.

 

“We’re headed to the sandwich shop. Want to come? Leave in five.” Marianne’s lunch note arrived at the perfect time. My stomach rumbled. I grabbed my purse and joined everyone in the parking lot. We strolled down the street to our favorite cafe. Seated promptly, we gulped an assortment of greasy burgers, club sandwiches, and salads. 

 

“There’s time for dessert,” Roger said after our plates were removed. “I crave a sundae on such a sunny spring day.” Everyone nodded in agreement and I ordered the two scoop special. Digging in heartily, my first spoonful of sinful sweet chocolate ice cream yielded a bitter disappointment. My tongue dismissed the coffee flavor as unacceptable. I moved over to the vanilla, but the dipper had been contaminated. There was no overcoming the taste. I swirled my spoon into the middle of my melting scoops – sadly inedible. The gang clanged their spoons at the bottom of their dishes and slurped any final bites. We paid our bills, and I headed back to work in a coffee funk.

 

“Does anyone have any gum?” Jeremy handed me a piece of Juicy Fruit. That distracted my mouth and I began my spreadsheets.

           

The afternoon jumbled by in a haze of numbers and macros. My eyes uncrossed at five and Janet stuck her head into my office. “Hey, let’s go to happy hour at Ben’s. They’ve been advertising specials this week. My husband’s off to a baseball game, so I don’t need to get home.” I agreed and Ben’s had an outdoor patio. People watching would be amusing after our winter hibernation.

 

We jostled through the crowd and found two chairs outside. Feeling festive, we each ordered one of the signature blender drinks. Service was quick and we toasted the end of another week. I gave a flourished twirl of the swizzle stick and then took a large slurp with my straw. Blech! Instead of a Bailey’s drink, I had a Kailua concoction.

 

Despite the alcohol content, I could not swallow this coffee-flavored swill and waved to our waiter. He apologized and promised a round would be on him. I chomped on nuts until our cheese fries appetizer arrived and diverted my tongue with ketchup and some ranch sauce. It was not a late night and we left the table full of work gossip and stories about her kids at college. The day’s final coffee assault faded from memory.

 

“Hello, dear. Yep, I’m on my way home…had a good time. Are you packed for your fishing trip tomorrow?”

 

“I’m all set except for one teensy thing. I was hoping you could stop by the store for me.”

 

“Sure, what do you need?”

 

“I’m out of coffee. Would you get me a small packet?”

 

At the grocery store, I chuckled to myself as I carefully dispensed Ray’s favorite flavor beans into a bag. He would need to pack his small grinder along with his tackle gear. I tossed the bag into my trunk, and then held it at arm’s length as I walked through our kitchen door. 

 

“Mmmm. Perfect.” Ray kissed me. “I smell my blend. I’ll think of you in the mornings as I fix my thermos.”

Joanne Faries shares...

JOANNE FARIES,originally from suburban Philadelphia,lives in Texas with her supportive husband,Ray. After years in the electronics industry, she threw away the red stapler and stormed out of her cubicle to huddle in front of a PC at home and be a writer. Published  on "Doorknobs & Bodypaint" and "Associated Content", Joanne writes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She enjoys movies, reading,and should exercise more. Joanne is a member of the Trinity Writer's Workshop in Bedford,TX.

 

Motivation "Another magazine (which did not accept her piece) was looking for stories last year on the "Perfect Cup of Coffee".As a non-coffeedrinker and someone who despises the flavor of coffee in candy, drinks, etc, I decided to take the opposite tack."

 

By the way she does not miss making office coffee. You may reach here here:  JLF58@tx.rr.com