March 15, 2010
Carl was in his usual morning stride. He filled the coffeemaker’s water reservoir—12 cups, now that Joe was home. Oddly, the grinder was empty, but Carl remembered seeing plenty of beans in the canister the last time he’d filled it.
• • • • •
“Aud?” Carl knocked at the bathroom door. He heard Audrey mumble something from inside. The door opened. She was drying her face.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi. Where’s the coffee?”
“I mean the new bag.”
“New bag? I don’t know. Maybe we’re out.”
“Maybe we’re out?”
“It’s on my list. You look in the canister?”
She could’ve been asking, You remember how to ride a bicycle? Carl slumped. He walked down the hall to Joe’s bedroom and opened the door. On the desk were three coffee-stained mugs and a large thermos. Carl opened the thermos: the remnants of a midnight brew were lukewarm.
• • • • •
“Hey!” Carl said.
Joe leapt to consciousness. “What? What?”
Carl held up the thermos. “What the heck?”
“Oh, jeez, dad. Scared the bejeezus out of me. Thought there was a fire or something.”
“There is a fire, Joe. It’s called ‘Dad’s burning up.’”
“Okay, okay,” Joe said. “Tell you what, take my Starbucks card. It’s in my wallet.” And he fell back on the bed.
Joe pulled on clothes and shoes and followed his dad downstairs. Carl instructed him to bring home the good stuff, 100% arabica beans. As Joe’s VW bus sputtered out the driveway, Carl sat down at the kitchen table. He tried reading the newspaper. His bagel was dry.
The kettle whistled on the stove. “Want some tea?” Audrey asked.
“Yes, tea. The other hot beverage. I think I’d like you better with some caffeine in you.”
“Oh, jeez, I’m sorry. I’m just—how did we raise somebody so irresponsible?”
“Carl, he’s a different animal than you and me. Remember the time he decided to go to school by riding a log down the river?”
Carl chuckled. “Thank God for sandbars.”
“Yeah, so let’s keep it in perspective. Besides, he probably didn’t know we were out.”
“I s’pose.” Carl drummed his fingers, and suddenly his coffee window closed. He stood up, took one of Audrey’s Irish tea bags and put it in his travel mug with boiling water. Then he asked Audrey to make sure Joe would be home at dinnertime, and to put the coffee on. They might be up all night.
©2010 Pam Wells