A Coffee Shop Conversation Overheard

He pecked aggressively onto the too small keyboard attached to the too small screen pursing his too big ambition of responding to every email flagged in his laptop’s inbox. Everyone else in the coffee shop was a blur, peripheral to his focus. He had to get this done and he had to get it done right away. The alarm on his phone was going to sound and summons an exit soon enough. Time was ticking by and he felt it.

The hushed murmurs of the others were like the soft breeze in a shallow pond; he sensed their movements but they were inconsequential to his pursuit.


The man was hulking, surrounded by an over-worn field jacket like a wilderness hunter’s, nestled within seasoned boots and jeans that could have been retired. The woman contrasted this with a petite flowery blouse, pale white pants, stark pink flats. His hair was jumbled, chaotic, hers reflected care, a considerable investment of time.

The businessman peered up above the screen and noticed. Their conversation was muted but he understood the words. Because of them, his email task faded in urgency.

The man started: “I didn’t want to do it but you left me no choice.”

She continued: “You’re blaming me for this? After everything, it’s my fault?”

He pressed the point: “Are you saying you had nothing to do with it?”

“No, not at all, but your accusation that I didn’t give you a choice makes it clear that you are completely blaming me.”

The man cleared his throat, looked down at the decorative foam milk leaf atop his latte and forced a plump, greasy thumb into it and stirred.

She noticed: “Disgusting.”

He remarked: “Yeah, that’s the worst thing I’ve done today.”

The businessman was engrossed in it now. What had that man done today? What were they arguing about? His mind fell to plots of theft, betrayal, even murder. He lost himself in it and simply glared at the two.

She fractured the businessman’s imagination and plotting: “Well, now that it’s done, we should feel relieved.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“But you should. You did it.”

He paused and then countered: “Yes, but if there are consequences, you’ll be tanning your pretty self on an island and you know where I’ll be…”

The businessman wondered… where will he be? Prison? In a graveyard? Where?

Just then, two police officers walked into the coffee shop and carefully surveyed the room, as they were accustomed to doing. It’s in their blood. The businessman witnessed the couple sit upright, eyes roaming from each other to the table and then back again into each others’ knowing eyes. They fell silent. Aha, I knew it… the businessman thought.

The officers walked slowly, purposefully to the counter and started speaking to the young employee. Asking knowing questions of her I bet, the businessman speculated. Seconds later, one of the officers handed her a bill and their transaction was complete. Must have only been ordering coffee, the businessman reasoned.

The emails were forgotten. He strained to hear the continuation of the conversation and stared without moderation. He wondered whether the dialogue might continue now that the two police officers had received their coffees and departed. But they sat in silence. She began drinking her coffee. He sipped his thumb grease laced latte.

Eventually, they resumed. The woman started: “She will never forgive us, you know.”

He waited a long few seconds, then replied: “But mom will be better off in there. She just will.”

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