Meeting Death for Coffee at Starbucks

January 25, 2012

by Karen Suriano

I arrived late
once again
shook the rain off my coat, my curls.

Death was already there
and had secured for us a table.

Though the place was bustling to capacity
the tables around her were empty.
Her very presence held the people at bay.
It may have been
they sensed her profession,
or it may have been
her lack of clothes, her lack of flesh
in stark comparison
to the stuffed suits and ill fitting coats
huddled in line, dripping,
pressed against the walls,
faces turned away
hoping to go unrecognized.

She turned her forever smile upon me
before downing the last of her cup.

She liked caffeine.
Her bones rattled like delicate china
settling into a subtle aftershock.

“Can I get you another cup?” I asked.

She nodded enthusiastically.

“Sugar? Cream?”

“You well know,” she giggled,
“I take it as black as
interminable night.
And twice as strong.”

“This will be the death of you, you know,” I winked.

“For you, perhaps,” laughed Death,
“but I’m so far gone
any stimulation
is a good sensation.”

“Something to eat?”
I offered.

“Oh no,” she smiled, “I take
great care to preserve
my figure.”
She set her hand bones
on her hip bones
turned her head sideways
chin up
such vogue hauteur.
It would have been a striking Roman pose
I suppose,
if she’d had a nose.
She turned back her static smile
all teeth and maxillas and mandibles
and fixed her orbless orbital sockets
upon me.
“Not
an ounce
of
ffffffffat.”

“That,” I chided, “may have been the death of you.”

I brought her a refill,
and a cheese-laden
pork-sausage
white-flour
muffin-thing
for me.
Between mouthfuls, I continued,
“I prefer a little cushion should I fall.
I want to hold together,
not create a game of pick-up-sticks like you.
I want some insulation from the elements too.
You, I suspect, whistle in the breeze,
clicking and clacking like a bamboo windchime
on a blustery day.”

Silence.

Our otherwise pleasant visit
took a sudden bitter-dregs turn
for the worse.

She foully plucked a spare rib
from its cage
and with it
stirred sugar and cream
seductively
into my coffee.
“I haven’t a heart
or arteries
to clog,” she said
tapping the rib against the rim of my mug.
She leaned forward
shook her rib in my face,
“But you do, my dear friend,”
she chortled dustily,
“You do.”

She snapped her rib back into place
with a sickening pop
that made the whole store shudder,
picked up her oversized mug
with both hands and leaned back
shivering delightedly while
sipping her brew and
never taking her eyeholes
off me.

I sighed.

The bitch had killed
my appetite
again.

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