She hated the device at the best of times. Like a newborn, something always needed feeding or changing. Of late it had gotten so cantankerous that Pete the Sneak had actually gone over to Millie's to have a NO COFFEE sign printed out.
Glancing over from the phone, she saw that the man, mid-thirties, ex-metalhead, was already lighting up.
Now that pissed her off. Why did she have to go out back whenever she felt for a puff?
Slamming the receiver down, she marched over and said, "None of that. No smoking. Don't you know the rules?"
He inhaled deep and blew smoke into her face. "This is an imaginary cigarette," he said, brows raised slightly, eyes beaming mischief. Another time she might have appreciated the attitude along with the not-so-obvious good looks.
His girlfriend giggled. On her own time, Alice might have snapped, "I wouldn't laugh, if my stylist died and left me with half a dye job like that."
On Pete the Sneak's time, she took a deep breath and said, "What will it be?"
The man smiled. "Two coffees, filter, hot milk and sugar. Got that? C for coffee, T for two."
She looked back pointedly towards the machine where the sign was up in five inch capital letters. Were they blind? Illiterate?
Then she thought Imaginary cigarette my ass, I'll show you.
Revived into activity by the thought of a sweet return, she marched straight to the drying shelf where a neat row of empty white coffee cups waited. She took two, supplied them with saucers and tea spoons and whirled around to deliver the order.
That'll show them.
Here you go, two imaginary cuppa's of the best brew.
The guy winked. She smelt it. And saw it. Both cups were filled to the brim with rich brown java.
"Thank you Alice," said the man.
"Thank you Alice," echoed the girlfriend.
She looked down at her chest. She wasn't wearing her name badge. When she look back at the two barstools, they were empty. Only the aroma of filter coffee lingered.
(t.y.m. - dedicated, as always to the one who has become all of my stories)