Ambika is a parent, musician, and writer living in Berlin. She has
contributed short stories to NPR Berlin, and Fanzine, and has had
stories shortlisted for the Reader Short Story 2012, and the Fresher
Writer Prize 2015 contests. She is also one half of a cello riot grrl
everything is about love,” I told the employee at Starbucks after he
asked me if I was reading a love story when he saw the book in my hand.
It was pink. I thought that might have confused him.
it about then?,” he asked.
I said too loudly, “Revenge against a nosey Starbucks barista.”
his eyes at me and said, “Cranky.” Then he asked the person behind me
what they wanted, followed by, “Is your book a love story?” I turned to
look at the man standing behind me that was holding a book that had
written on it in gigantic letters Donald Rumsfeld: Man, Myth or
Moron. The man shook his head, “Did you know that Rumsfeld only had
a B.A. in politics?”
Starbucks employee smiled, “Really? Was he ever in love?”
back the next day wearing a disguise; a fedora and an adhesive
moustache, and carrying a different book, the Oxford English
it was my turn at the counter he asked me, “Is that a crime novel?”
I hadn’t expected that to be the question but I used the answer I
had already prepared anyways. “Yes.” He smiled the same smile as
yesterday and handed me a coffee. “I like crime novels. Have a nice
tried to overhear the next interactions he had with other customers
as I slowly stirred sugar into my coffee. The distance, the crap
slow jazz, and the noise of the milk-froth-thing-a-ma-jigger made it
hard to make out for sure what he was saying, but it seemed that he
asked everyone the same question. I knew I had to get to the bottom
of this barista’s story.
next day I came in wearing a head device that I had made the
previous night. Tinfoil hearing cones where fixed, via a neon pink
colander, to my ears so I could hear him better when I stood
stirring my coffee. I also wore thick glasses, so he wouldn’t
recognize my face and carried a new book, Pat Robertson’s New
World Order. He didn’t ask me about the book, and only
referenced to it to remind me not to leave it behind. For a moment I
thought it had all been in my head. As I stood stirring sugar into
my coffee I eavesdropped on his next interactions.
that a cookbook?” he asked a young woman. I knew it. “It” being not
entirely too well defined in my mind though.
waited on the sidewalk across the street for him to finish work. To
my dismay he had the closing shift, so by the time he was done, I
was cold, tired and hungry. I knew I should have brought a lawn
chair, and packed a lunch.
he left I followed slowly behind him to avoid being detected, but I
wasn’t very good at it. He seemed nervous as he walked. He kept
looking back at me, quickening his pace every time he realized that
I was still there. We rounded another corner and he dashed inside
Starbucks Headquarters. I froze. I knew that I couldn’t follow him
scanned the office windows for signs of life. Most were dark, but
then he appeared in a window looking directly at me. A man came up
behind him. I eagerly anticipated a sexy moment. Instead he reached
under the barista’s chin, making it look as though he was about to
choke him. I held my breath. Then to my horror, he ripped his face
off. I wanted to look away but that’s when I saw it. He was a robot.
The man seemed to be doing something with his head, then he put the
barista’s face back on. He was still looking at me as he turned away
from the window.
waited all night for him to come out again, and as he did,
presumably to go to work, I immediately jumped him and started
beating him with a pipe.
swear officer, they’re taking over. That’s really what happened. How
can you not believe me? Starbucks is evil.