Café Americano

She reads an article on Zimbabwe’s drought and famine, including personal stories like the farmer’s: he walks two miles to get the sack of corn rationed by the U.N. for his family- the corn, meant to last a month, lasts two weeks because he shares it with the villagers.  She reads about the two thousand AIDS deaths there.  GRANDE SKIM NO FOAM LATTE.

Her lover remains in her thoughts.  She thinks of his difficult marriage, of his adoration of her.  She envisions transplanting the poor of Zimbabwe into America, to give them choices, and she savors the knowledge that she is her lover’s choice.  TALL SPICE LATTE.

He has told her the decision is hers, assured her his marriage is doomed regardless of her choice.  Her husband takes a sip of his drink.  He is reading the sports page – an article on the impending baseball strike.  She thinks too many people want too much.  GRANDE CARAMEL MACCHIATO.

She believes her husband’s thoughts and hers are miles apart when he says, “It’s a shame, isn’t it? Damn ball players can’t be satisfied.  Is there ever enough for them?” TALL CAFFE AMERICANO.

She looks at the pretty people around her with their fancy, multi-monikered coffee drinks, hears the steady shouts of their orders by the man behind the counter.  She thinks 2 – CAFÉ AMERICANO about the Chicago Times photo of Mikibo the farmer and his sack of corn. GRANDE CINNAMON SPICE MOCHA.

She starts to tell her husband about the article but thinks better of it.  Baseball is dominating his thoughts on this beautiful late-August Chicago morning.  TALL ICED WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA.

She thinks she is like the baseball players and also the ruling party leader in Zimbabwe who keeps his opposition from their corn rations.  And maybe like those AIDS victims.  She wonders if later they will all regret their choices – the ball players, the greedy party leaders, the dying Africans and she. She wonders, too, if along the way, they ever considered that they were choosing poorly, making mistakes.  I want too much, she thinks.   I don’t need my lover.  The baseball players don’t need more money.  The ruling party leader doesn’t need to block his near-famined opposition from their corn.  We don’t need, but we want.  GRANDE ESPRESSO CON PANNA.

Perhaps the players think more money generates more power.  Power over whom? The owners?   The fans?  The world?  Controlling people’s food gives the controller power over the hungry.   Over Zimbabwe?  Over their world?   Power is intoxicating.  She wonders if taking a lover has given her power.  He certainly intoxicates her.  She  finishes the article, takes a sip of her Cafe Americano and resolves she will do better than those about whom she has read.

“Pete, you ready?”  she asks her husband.

Together they leave the coffee house, each with a folded section of newspaper tucked safely under an arm.

Micael S. Stone

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