The Shine Journal

Exceptional Flash, Poetry, Art and Photography!





Tory Brannigan




I know.  I know.  You think you know who I am.  One of those strung out junkies with too bright of eyes and jittery movements.  Can’t live without my fix.  Will do anything for one.  Criminal.  Addict.  Well, you may be right.  I am addicted. 


But is that truly my fault or does the blame rest with society?  Back in the day, my habit wasn’t illegal.  Society led me to believe it was OK.  Even desirable.  But now, twenty years later, I’ve become a 40-year old washed out bum who needs his hook-up.  I’m not a contributing member of society.  I keep taxpayers like you paying more and more to fight me; to keep my drug and myself off the street.  C’mon.  All they have to do is legalize it again.  Didn’t they learn anything from Prohibition?  Making things illegal only increases crime.


How in twenty years could I go from a respected stock broker fresh and energetic to what I am now?  A coffee junkie.  Coffee had become illegal after Starbucks and Folgers had addicted my entire generation to espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes.  I drank it black and bitter.  I drank it with flavored cream.  I drank it with sugar.  I drank it as mochas and frappucinos and cappuccino blasts.  I drank it any way I could get it.  And not just in the morning as a pick-me-up.  No.  I’d drink it for lunch and as an after dinner drink.  Taste that rich Colombian roasted bean on my tongue.  Let the warmth glide down my throat.  Feel the caffeine spread into my veins—warm and invigorating.


Maybe who you should blame are the Colombians.  If it’s not cocaine, it’s coffee and chocolate.  All the “C” narcotics that society now deems illegal.


Starbucks went out of business.  No more coffee was served in chipped mugs to truckers at diner counters as they make a long haul.  Oh no.  Now it’s herbal this and herbal that to keep you awake.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t coffee a plant?


It’s not fair.  I was trained by college and the workplace to have that cup of joe.  I made deals over steaming hot liquid, so dark it looked like black velvet in a cup.  Until the government stepped in.  Decided coffee was just another narcotic to be abused by the general public.


People became addicted.  No one could stop once they downed that first cup of java.  If you stopped, you’d go through withdrawals.  Awful cravings for it accompanied by major headaches and muscle aches. Coffee went on the black market.  Hidden cafes sprung up dispensing brew at ridiculous prices.  Prices I paid of course.  The Colombians had a much more lucrative product now it was illegal.  People were shot down in the streets over bad coffee sales or dealers trying to pass off chicory as the real deal.  I don’t care what they think down in New Orleans.  I need 100% pure coffee beans.  Raids and drive-bys and arrests became commonplace.


I’m not really that bad, am I?  I just need my fix.  Then I’m fine.  A little wired, but hey, I can function.  I can stop anytime I want.  And I don’t push.  I don’t try to lure fresh young un-caffeinated lives.  I don’t peddle to school children, hiding coffee in ice cream and candies to get them hooked.  All I need is my fix.


Of course prices had kept escalating.  I eventually lost my job.  If I couldn’t afford my hook-up I became useless at work, unable to stay awake, to concentrate.  Now I do odd jobs just to keep myself going.


So, now you’re thinking, why didn’t you get some help?  I tried.  Honest, I did.  I went cold turkey.  Endured the withdrawals.  Joined Coffee Addicts Anonymous.  But I couldn’t stick with it.  I fell off the wagon.


But don’t turn your nose up at me.  It can happen to you.  What if the government finds some exception to that granola bar you’re eating or that carrot juice concoction you’re drinking?  What would you do?  Would you give it all up?  Just because the government tells you to?  Get rid of that one little piece of happiness?  Is that what defines a drug?  Any substance that makes you happy and you keep taking?


Don’t think you’re better than me.  Just because your life is so damn healthy it makes me sick.  You think you’re so perfect.  So free of any addictions. Oh.  Is my hand twitching again?  Give me a cup of that java.  Give it to me straight up and scalding hot.  Hook up an IV and inject it directly into my veins.  I don’t care.  I just want another hit.




TORY BRANNIGAN is from Espanola, New Mexico. She currently works part time as a landscape designer and has a degree in Horticulture.  She also helps her husband in his business of restoring classic cars.  She has had two stories published by Long Story Short and her flash fiction piece, Longing, was published by The Shine Journal in July 2007.





"This is in response to my fear that one day even pedestrian drugs, such as caffeine, will be banned and only bottled water and sugar-free snacks will be allowed as everyone is herded to a gym to achieve their goal weight. Basically, I wrote it because I love coffee."

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Editor: Pamela Tyree Griffin

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