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Coffee Jitters

by Walter Giersbach

Walt bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance with a little historical non-fiction for good measure.  His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications including Clever Magazine. Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online booksellers. He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries. He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.

“Coffee’s going to be the death of you, Charlie. I’m warning you.” Doc Magruder had been Charlie’s friend since the second grade, but he’d never known the pain of withdrawal that Charlie feared. 

Charlie Skaggett was a coffee toper. He never trolled the garage without a container in his hand. The back of his Honda was filled with empty cardboard coffee cups.   

Even his fiancée, Gloria May, was on his case, “Dammit, Charlie, put down that cup when you talk to me. You want to get married, but I can’t have you carryin’ coffee to the altar.”” 

The guys at the Friday night poker game looked weirdly at him as they sipped their Jack ‘n’ Coke while he slugged black coffee. Of course, he usually cleaned up on all the pots. Both money and coffee. 

“I’ve had it with all of you!” he finally shouted at the guys in the middle of a game of five card draw. You, too, Magruder. And even you,” he said to Gloria May, bringing shock and tears to her blue eyes.   

So Charlie left. Just like that. When they realized Charlie was really gone, people in town jabbered and made crude jokes and gossiped about him killing himself or dying of jangled coffee nerves. Withdrawal can be dangerous to your health, they said. 

Until he came back two weeks later, driving a new Ford F-150 pickup. He stepped out in front of Rollie’s Bun ‘n’ Run Café, smiled broadly, tipped his ball cap to a lady and went inside. 

“Well, where the heck you been, Charlie?” Doc asked.

“Up to my country place.” He spoke slowly, not all herky-jerky. “Kicked the coffee habit. Caught a few small mouth bass at the same time.” 

“Howdja do it?” Doc gasped. “Quitting coffee, I mean. Tell me later about the fishing.” 

“Ever’ time I got the cravin', I put a dollar in a Mason jar. Wasn’t easy. But I stuck to it.” 

“And the idea of getting that new truck motivated you?” 

“Nah. Somethin’ else.” 

“Well, what’s the secret?” 

“Shucks,” Charlie muttered. “It wasn’t about savin’ money. It was Gloria May.” 

“She talked you into it?” 

“It was like this. We’d gone out and made a little whoop-de-do and she gave me her panties as a souvenir afore I came home. I had to get up early and go to work, but I still had a few minutes to pleasure myself. So I put her panties over my head while I did my thing. When I was done, I took ‘em off and found my Mom had come in and put a cup of coffee by my bed. Right there and then, Doc, I realized I had to leave home and swear’ off coffee before marryin’ Gloria May.”

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