Procaffeinations is a weekly series of short fictions, fables and fabrications, all written in the time it takes to finish that first coffee of the day. A Guatemalan Aeropress with a side of Brand New. Breakfast of champions.
‘Something’s stirring in a deep Atlantic trench
Doesn’t forget the thousand years before it slept
It’s the beast, it’s my heart, it’s so brave
I dive down into its unit in its head.’
My skull is a broken egg shell two sizes too small for my brain. My eyes look like they belong to two different faces. One sunken, arid eyeball sat awkwardly alongside a swollen stranger. Adrenaline alarm bells: There’s a chatter in my teeth and a fire in my veins that tell me last night went south somehow. I raise a broken hand to a busted lip for confirmation. A wild night of violent delights, no doubt.
The coffee shop is a sluggish blurring of familiar faces and forgotten names. Steam from the espresso machine settles around the room, its motion locked in lazy inertia. Everything slows down. The coffee in front of me is a black hole cradled in a crooked array of skinned knuckles and scorched fingertips; a Guatemalan blend that runs so deep I get vertigo just staring into it. There’s a comfort in its warmth but there’s something stirring in its filtered depths. A shimmer at first, now taking shape. My right eye now completely sealed over, I bring the coffee to my face in hopes of a clearer view. We’re almost face-to-face before I recognise him.
His face is a Picasso painting of violence and mischief. Even through the swelling, I can see the carvings of age deep-set around his surly face. I wonder how they got there so fast; a face belaboured by time in almost no time at all. There’s a tremor in his hands and a limp in his step, but there’s something in his good eye that says he’s not done fighting yet. A sorry, stubborn bastard bound for oblivion and loving every second of it. I watch him as he brings his bloodied and broken fingers to the last vestiges of a chest pocket, draws out a flask, and fires one more volley of piss and vinegar down his aching throat. He wipes his cracked lips with a crusted forearm and shoots me a shit-eating grin that costs more blood still. He balls his fists and raises his arms. Through shattered teeth and bitten tongue he asks me if I want a rematch.