Pumpkin Spice, Not Just for the Nice
Ellie sat shaking in the corner. She’d drawn a facsimile of the tattoo on her hemp fiber apron. All the other baristas could find for her was a Sharpie but no paper. Across the now-empty cafe, she could see the paramedics frantically working to save a man’s life. He was laying in a pool of his own blood. A police officer stepped around the commotion to approach her table.
“May I have a seat?” She asked as she pulled the chair out.
Ellie nodded approval to the officer who was already halfway seated. “Is he going to be okay?” her voice weak and distressed as she spoke.
The officer didn’t respond. Cynthia, Ellie’s manager delivered a pumpkin spice latte, setting it next to the canvas drawing and taking Ellie’s hand in hers. The officer looked annoyed but could see Ellie calm a bit with Cynthia’s presence.
“I know this is difficult but could you tell me what you saw? Include every detail no matter how insignificant it seems. It could be important.”
Ellie started, “I was behind the counter when I heard the roar of the pipes. I looked up to see a man dressed in denim and leather pull up on a Harley. He parked in that first spot over there. When he came to the counter his arms were covered in tattoos but I can only remember the one.”
“Can you describe it?”
Ellie pointed to the canvas apron. “I remember reading it to myself as he ordered a pumpkin spice latte.”
“This is the tattoo?”
“Best I can remember it.”
“Did you take a name for the order?”
“I didn’t take his order Sam did, but his name was Dale. I remember calling it out when I finished making his order. He had ordered it in a ceramic cup and I thanked him for choosing the reusable option. He commented on my foam pumpkin’s evil grin and then in a cute but patronizing way told me I should have been an artist. I noticed a patch on his jacket that said ‘CUTTER’ as I smiled back at him.”
“What did he do after he got his coffee?”
“He took the latte,” she replied as if calling it coffee was an affront to anyone’s better senses, “…and went over to that table.” She gestured towards the far wall. I didn’t pay much attention after that but I assume he sat and had a few sips. It was maybe ten minutes, I made a couple more orders, and then Cynthia asked me to wipe down the tables.” Cynthia and Ellie’s eyes met for a moment and then she continued, “The next thing, I hear a loud commotion behind me. I spun and looked to see a table and chair fly across the store towards me. I jumped out of the way as he grabbed the person sitting on the bench. I remember the man cowering as he wailed on him. He was screaming something at him.”
“What was he saying?”
“I don’t know, I can remember, it’s all muffled in my head. I just remember the horrified look on the other guy’s face.” her lip quivered as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Did he have any weapons?”
“Not that I saw but with all that blood, maybe? He picked him up, threw him to the ground, and began kicking and stomping on him. Finally, he spits on the man, and then like a switch being turned off he runs his fingers through his long unkempt hair and calmly walked back over to his latte. When he was done he tossed the mug in front of the man laying on the floor. He left the store as it shattered into hundreds of pieces that skidded across the brown tiles and into the heap. The roar of his bike echoed in the background as he rode off.”
“Anything else that stuck out?”
“Yeah,” her voice tailing off as she cocked her head, eyes glazed as though she was staring right through the officer, “I was struck by the juxtaposition between the violence and his order. Pumpkin spice just didn’t seem appropriate.”