Chapter 20 – Day Two

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Nothing like a good cup of coffee or latte to put off whatever it is you don’t want to deal with. Scott woke up with a dread of the day to come that needed a caffeinated outlook to be dealt with. Coffee-as-Vocation had become legitimized for a vast majority of Gen-Xers and Millennials in Los Angles and Scott was no different from his Brothers and Sisters in Brew. A fifteen-minute break could be easily stretched to an hour or more and the epidemic that was merely a way of life in places like Paris or Italy was spreading across the country. Putting America back to work just might mean putting a prohibition on coffee houses. 

Yeah, Starbucks would go for that,” Scott thought.

He had liked the feel of CookieSheet’s Cafe, so he ventured back there at an early 7:30am on his second morning in Los Alamos. Maybe he’d catch Todd, now that he knew him by sight and really, how could you ever miss him? 

The winter mesa air and physical exertion served to work up a Todd-sized appetite in Scott. After using his workout stretchy bands in the small motel room in between the door and over the bed almost into the bathroom as he stretched and pulled his muscles the best he could in that space, he was hungry. There was not enough room for sit-ups or pushups and Scott didn’t want to think what might be in the mangy carpet. Have to do that fully clothed at the Betti’s house later.

Scott had gotten a voicemail from Betti just before he left his room at the Turd, which he paid up for one more night. She was wondering how it was going and did he need anything. Scott didn’t call her back and he really didn’t like talking on the phone in general. It just felt too vulnerable and made him too available for conversations that might rope him into something he couldn’t say no to. It was quite a dichotomy for him, to be naturally craving opportunities to be of help to people, the inescapable knowledge that he was garnering brownie points in the process, and the need to avoid unnecessary contact and commitments that might limit his life options, real or imagined.

A table in the far corner had miraculously been empty, so Scott placed his gloves and his green, sweat-worn John Deere farm machinery ball cap on the table to claim it. The hat was something Scott threw into his pack at the last minute as local costume he thought might ingratiate him with a construction guy like Todd. Manual labor, Everyman, Salt of the Earth kind of thing. It had held up all the way from his high school summer days in Wisconsin detasseling corn and had become quite nasty. This would be part of his uniform for the duration. Scott still needed to get some Carhartt pants and flannel shirts from a Kmart or someplace like that. His hiking boots were already trashed, so he’d keep wearing them. 

Scott wound his way through the occupied tables to the counter. Once he put his coffee and breakfast order in, Scott listened to the voicemail again and it really needed to be washed down by something hot and strong so he could forget about it for a while. He waiting for his coffee before heading back to his table.

After nursing his latte for a few minutes, Asian Lady called out his order and he made his way back up to the counter. Asian Lady must have been in her forties or so. Scott could never tell how old an Asian woman was as they weathered quite well, in his uneducated opinion. He’d had a relationship with a Chinese girl that didn’t go well at all and was short-lived. Asian Lady was just about five-feet tall, petite, but with a big top underneath her cats apron. She sported nerd glasses, large on a pretty, rounded face. Her shoulder length black hair had begun to show silver and was scrunchied up in a pony tail.

“Thank you,” he said, picking up his styrofoam container of breakfast that had a surprising twist.

“You are welcome!” Asian Lady said, smiling a big smile at him. “Are you be a customer regular?”

“Maybe,” Scott replied, guessing what she meant. “For at least a week or so.”

Asian Lady bobbed her head down and then up, placing her hands together like a prayer and saying, “Sawasdee Kah! You call me ‘CookieSheet’. No one know my true name around Lo Alamo. I remember your order, Ka?”

“Yes, thank you!”, Scott said, her smile having infected him as well. “Where are you from?”

Noi looked puzzled. “I in Los Aramos, same as you.” 

“No, sorry. I mean what country did you come here from?” Scott asked apologetically.

“Oh! Thailand. Twenty-fye year ago,” CookieSheet replied, V’s and S’s missing and some of her L’s turned to R’s and vice versa. She turned to go to the back. “Eat!” she commanded.

Scott laughed at her brusque manner and took his food back to his coffee, opening up the container, the mix of aromatic flavors confusing and delighting his taste buds at the same time. While CookieSheet’s Cafe offered standard breakfast and lunch fare, the menu was unique in that it featured a number of Thai-Mexican fusion comfort dishes. Scott had ordered the Thai Breakfast Burrito which had a Tom Yum mixture of scrambled eggs, cheese, green pepper, pork sausage, and topped with a coconut-sriracha salsa that was out of this world.

The day:  to be continued…

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