Halloween Fiction: Bean & Gone

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It must have been four years without coffee nowGray thought as they dug their hands into their coat pockets, shoulders hunched against the damp winter wind. The light turned gray as they walked down Massachusetts Avenue, glancing over to where the old Boston Pops building stood. Six without music, they thought, looking down to see their feet doing a quick job in the snow.

They remembered how strange it was that silent first day of showing up for work at the Bean & Gone Cafe, instinctively clicking on the stereo. The first deal set off alarms for the new building, and within moments the cafe was surrounded. It took over 30 minutes to convince the authorities it was just a mistake, officer, I promise you, I wasn’t trying to be defiant. Yes, definitely I’m going to get used to it, we’re all going to get used to it. You’re right, it’s probably better this way. Definitely safer, I agree.

Arriving on Huntington, Gray tried to remember what chord it was, the last one they had heard. Nothing but the sound of shoes in the snow, a kind of music in its own right. They can’t take it all away thought Gray. Everything can be music.

Coffee is different, however: coffee was the hardest part to say goodbye. It can’t all be coffee.

By the time the notice came in, most people had given up on speaking out against the ban. There had been such noise at first, protests and violence as the militarized police took away television and movies, then magazines and books, then written words of all kinds – instruction manuals, maps greeting, SMS. Of course, it made sense that these were the first things to do: cut off communication, create isolation. Not all of a sudden, but over time. At first, not all of us noticed what was missing. It took a few weeks for us to realize that our phones had stopped buzzing with news or a “hyd?” ” from a friend.

When it started to get weird, specific – scary – the protests had already ceased altogether, as it had become so difficult to keep in touch. Nothing with wheels, no houseplants, no shoes requiring laces, no fermented food: teams of masked people (this could be anyone, “Does this person sound familiar to you? you will ask) would come in and search a home or office building, silently removing anything offended that week. In no time, everything was quite simple, like a nightmare version of minimalist design.

Gray had realized early on that they would be coming for coffee, it was really only a matter of time, especially if they were coming for texts. First, they bought 12-ounce retail coffee bags one at a time after a Bean & Gone change, hiding them under a laundry basket. Once it became forbidden to sell coffee except in its brewed form, Gray was pulling handfuls of beans out of the hopper as they closed the store, holding them firmly in a fist inside a pocket. jacket as they walked home to make sure they didn’t. make noise against each other. Brewing was not easier: the electric mills were too noisy, attracted attention; when Gray’s hand mill broke, they looked for ways to crush the grains instead. The AeroPresses were small enough to hide, but when the paper was banned all the filters were gone.

It was then that things started to get really desperate. Gray had seen friends and former colleagues sucking chocolate from coated espresso beans so they had enough to brew, then straining the liquid through an old T-shirt. The store has closed. Most people stopped talking about coffee about two years ago, it just wasn’t there. They thought, anyway.

While Gray was ready for coffee to become illegal, they didn’t expect it to last that long. Surely some kind of revolution would take place, surely things would change? Three years after the coffee ban began, they remembered that coffee was often the fuel of these revolutions and that coffee was the center of political action and activism. Even Gray, who in an old version of life chained himself to Ruggles station to protest police brutality, before the police became what they are today.

Today.

Gray thought the word and smiled bitterly, walking timidly around the ruined house on Calumet where they had miraculously managed to stay for the past 11 months, after the Fens had been cleaned up “to make room”, although no one did not say for what reason.

Today is maybe the last time I taste coffee.

They felt the section of the door closed behind them and breathed easily for a moment, finally out of sight in the street. Even though hardly anyone went out these days (to go where? For what?), It still felt like being watched, maybe from a window, maybe from the sky.

“Today?”

Gray jumped and let out a cry of surprise. Marco was partly hidden in the shadow of the hallway, and he used to walk very quietly. Again, everything was calm: it could be dangerous to make a lot of noise.

The two were strangers until the necessity of making them literally “roommates”: the two had moved in with their few remaining belongings to the empty house, spending most of their time huddled in the room farthest from the house. the street to avoid attention. It took several weeks before Gray felt comfortable saying anything to Marco; they had already learned the hard way that anyone could listen, and that hardly anyone was exactly what they seemed. After a few weeks, however, Gray began to think that maybe Marco was different in some way, touched by a kind of calm that made the whole ordeal of modern life acceptable. He spent hours sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, listening to his own rhythmic breathing. He managed to offer them decent tasting things to eat, despite the fact that all green, red, brown and yellow foods were prohibited. He even shared his music with Gray, which prompted them to let him have coffee: Gray hadn’t heard music in years, and the joy and longing was palpable the first time they snuggled up. against each other in front of the old iPod that Marco had discovered under a loose board. They let the battery run out to 3% by listening to T.Rex once a week; Gray closed his eyes and remembered closing the Metal Guru cafe at full volume.

When the time came, they would share the last coffee and the last tunes. “Let’s say goodbye to both at the same time,” they had promised.

The time had come.

While Marco symbolically stood in line for the “Children of the Revolution,” Gray set to work crushing the coffee beans with a heavy knife. They had long ceased to be particularly concerned with the uniformity of the size of the grind for a long time. They also couldn’t afford to heat the water, although there was still good heat coming out of the kitchen faucet. That should do the trick, too. Gray brewed the coffee sucker-like, in child-sized cereal bowls that had been left behind by those who once lived in the house. They broke the crust with a rusty teaspoon.

Was this the last coffee on earth? Gray’s supply had dwindled over the past two years, and for most of the past few months they had resorted to consuming single beans in an attempt to expand what was left. When only 9 grams were left, they knew it was time. One last sucker.

Marco and Gray were looking at the cup. He didn’t smoke, but he was brown and semi-warm and offered more comfort than either of them had known in a long time. Gray leaned over the mug at the waist to capture some of the aroma, closing his eyes. Suddenly, a shaking crash, the sound of splashing liquid and a violent laugh filled the room. Gray sat up, his eyes as large as saucers. Coffee everywhere, the bowl of cereal in pieces.

“I cheated on you,” sneered Marco. “It was a long shot, and I thought for sure you would know something was up.” He chuckled at his own terrible joke.

Faces appeared from what appeared to be every corner of the house, hands reached out and grabbed Gray, dragging them to the floor. Their faces were pressed against a square of grounds and lukewarm coffee water, and they inhaled deeply. It’s as close as anyone will ever come back to the cafe, they thought, then let a bitter smile cross their faces.

I guess it’s really death before decaffeinated.

Never Meister (@notjustmeister) is a Saint Paul, Minnesota-based coffee professional and journalist and the host of In Good Taste on the Sprudge Podcast Network.



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