I threw open the door to my favorite little coffee shop and breathed in the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
"Ahhhh! I love the smell of arabica in the afternoon!" My favorite barista was at her station behind the espresso machine mixing up a little heaven in a cup for the only other customer in the shop.
"MO-cha, mochamochamoca!" I cha-cha'ed across the floor. "Mocha me, Mamma!" I said, slapping my hand on the counter top.
Instead of looking amused, which I had expected, Barbara the Barista looked a little nervous. I was instantly suspicious of the other customer. Was he hassling her? He looked pretty nondescript. Average height, average build, dressed in blue, wearing mirrored sunglasses. There was something vaguely familiar about him. I'd seen his type before, but where?
Barbara finished frothing his drink and slid it slowly towards him. She turned toward me, a look of concern on her face.
"How ya' doin', Jo? Switchin' to decaf for the afternoon?" Barbara spoke slowly, emphasizing the word "decaf" and darting glances at Mr. Mystery out of the corner of her eyes while she nodded her head meaningfully in his direction.
Decaf? I never order decaf. And that strange twitch. She must be speaking in code! I was certain she was trying to warn me of something, but what?
"Oh, no-nee, no-nee, no-nee. I don't drink that wimpy decaf! Heh heh heh. 'De-crap,' I like to call it," I said. Barbara continued to jerk her head toward Mr. Mystery and make "shushing" faces at me. Obviously this guy was trouble and she was trying to warn me. Well, I was just going to have to woman-up, and let him know that if he tried any funny stuff with me around he'd be sorry!
"Yep, I finished off a pot of dark roasted robusta this mornin'," I said, hitching up my pants and flexing my pecs. "Just need a little motorin' mocha pick-me up to keep my ninja-like reflexes sharp." I did a quick little kung-fu move I picked up from watching "Big Trouble in Little China."
Mystery Man didn't flinch, but Barbara looked nervous. "Well, gosh! Look at that! The espresso machine must be on the blink," she was talking rapidly now, almost babbling. "How 'bout a nice herbal tea? Maybe a beer or two (or twelve she added in a whisper) to mellow you out."
"What are you talking about?" I asked, confused. "I just saw you frothing his coffee. I don't need a pick me down, I need a pick me up!" I was getting agitated now, my caffeine level dipping dangerously low. "Don't 'cha have some house blend in a thermos or something? Just toss some grounds in a cup with hot water, I'll strain them out with my teeth." Desperation was setting in.
"Or, or, or..." I stammered, thoughts spinning wildly in my head. "Maybe I can just suck on some beans. Come on, man. I need a lil' sum-sum. Just let me sniff the empty bean bag!"
"What she means, Ma'am," Mystery Man spoke, "is that you seem to be a little over-caffeinated." I tensed as he stood and walked toward me. The light glinted ominously off the small, blue-black metallic object in his outstretched hand.
"I'm going to have to ask you to blow into this breathalyzer," he said. "I'm Officer Valdez, Caffeine Overuse Protection Services."
"Coffee C.O.P.S? Busting people for drinking coffee? Isn't that the coffee pot calling the kettle black?" I snapped.
"Ma'am, I can assure you we've heard all the coffee and donut jokes. And we are not amused." He waved the breathalyzer near my face. "Ma'am, you're registering a 2.0 on vapors alone. You're going to have to take a caffeination field test. Please stand with your back against this wall and hold completely still." I did as I was told, but it was harder than I could have imagined.
"Holy Sanka!" Officer Valdez cried. "You've got such a caffeine buzz you're vibrating the plaster right off the wall! You're going to have to spend a little time in the demitasse tank until you mellow out."
To be continued!