Friday’s Coffee

by C. Joy

It was FREE Friday, and Guido was late, again.

Fresh donuts were spilling out of the oven faster than Marra’s reddened fingers could place them on the cooling rack.

Doughy sweetness filled the bakery while hundreds of cooled donuts waited for Guido’s signature icing. And the bakery was to open within the hour.

“Today is so NOT the day to be late!” Marra muttered, placing another greased, dough filled pan onto the conveyer. She quickly washed her hands. In exactly five minutes the donuts would start spilling out again, giving her just enough time to start the coffee pots.

She loved the bakery, the early mornings and the aroma of sweetness. She had grown up watching Gramps and Guido create and bake their way into the neighborhood’s heart, and making it her home. Marra sighed as she sniffed deep rich coffee beans, and poured water into the pots. Her best memories were in this bakery. Gramps had taught her the business, so it had been an honor to carry it on.

“Marra, I’m here!” A feisty Sicilian, always late, but his reputation for to –die -for buttercream icing earned him continual forgiveness. Plus, Marra had inherited Guido with the business.

“You have forty minutes and three hundred donuts!” Marra shouted from the front, a smile tugging her face.

Pans and spoons clanged, the mixer fired up and the kitchen filled with a cloud of powdered sugar and Guido’s singing.

Thirty minutes later, there was steaming coffee, and a display case full of iced donuts. Free Friday was ready to start. As a way to generate business and show gratitude, Gramps started Free Friday in which any cop, fireman or EMT still in uniform was offered free coffee and donuts. It started slow, but like a downhill snow ball, it grew quickly. It wasn’t about a profit, and Marra loved giving back to the community.

“He’ll be here.” Guido grinned and winked.

“Who?’ Marra asked innocently, trying to hide the blush that crept up her face.

“Your cop!” Guido exclaimed.

“He’s not my cop.” But, she had taken extra care with her hair just in case.

“See, you do know who!” Guido teased, and flipped the on OPEN sign.

Within minutes, the first of many began to trickle into the bakery. Jacob hadn’t missed in the last seven weeks. Not that she was counting. The first time, all she noticed was his broad shoulders and those deep green eyes. The second time, his lazy smile and the lack of a wedding ring. Eventually, his name. And that he was a detective. Lately though, the conversations were tantalizing and Jacob would stay until late morning. The attraction was definitely there, but she was starting to wonder if he felt the same. Would he ever ask her out? If he only knew some of the fantasies he had been in, Marra blushed in memory. He might be a detective, but he was missing some obvious clues.

Three hours later, all the donuts and copious amounts of coffee mingled with the laughter and banter of grateful servicemen, including the entire 34th precinct, celebrating their captain’s birthday, were gone. Lacking the arrival of Jacob.

Guido shut off the Free Friday sign and waved as he left. Embarrassed with herself over an imagined romance, Marra marched into the kitchen to start the weekend orders.

Her shoulders were sore, and her forearms burned, as she pounded out dough fueled by frustration, when the front door chimed. She wiped her floured hands on her apron, pushed through the double doors and stopped. The object of her frustration was standing in the center of her bakery. Be still, my heart, she thought.

“Hello! Sorry, but you missed it.” She didn’t mean to sound so aloof. Kripes, don’t blow it!

“Today, I didn’t come for donuts,” Jacob said as he walked towards her, never taking his eyes off her.

“OK, well, is there something I can get you?” Her heart was in her throat, she swore.

“Yes”, he said with a slow smile, and stopped in front of her. His hand cupped her cheek and then his lips found hers. The kiss was sweetness and strength, and pulled her under.

“Gracious woman. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that,” he sighed. “Fridays aren’t enough. I want more than once a week. Tonight, dinner?” He whispered against her mouth.

She couldn’t breathe or talk so she nodded, and pulled him in for another kiss. She hadn’t misread a thing. As happiness flooded her, she grinned and said “Yes, Detective. Dinner sounds great.”


Nestled in the Midwest, C. Joy writes for fun, reads with a passion and lives to experience as much life as possible.

Grilled Rabbit

by Benjamin Locke

A man without a name stood still in the chill of the evening air, stooped behind a tree, listening to conversation a little ways down the road.

The tree was seemingly the last on this final frontier of civilized vegetation before the unforgiving heat and lifelessness of the desert began proper.

Two men where squabbling over something, gesturing angrily with their hands and leaning in towards each other as they spoke. The man without a name knew all of these tells. He was a great study of people and animals which made him a formidable hunter and a hard man to tail.

The man had been traveling on horseback, but sensing his pursuers two days past, he’d stabled the horse in the nearest town and payed the stable master generously not to mention anything of his passing through, should anyone go asking.

The two men seemed to have stopped, the man without a name presuming they had finally admitted to themselves that they had A; lost their prey and B; lost themselves. They stood now facing away from each other, looking off in to the distance and along the road, looking for any sign of life.

The man without a name knew these men where no trackers. They couldn’t find their own pricks with both hands, he thought. Seizing the opportunity for surprise, he pushed his way through a thicket lining the edge of the thoroughfare, stumbling on to the sandy track.

The two men ahead of him panicked at the sound of rustling foliage and spun around, frantically reaching for their guns.

‘Ho, Ho, fellas I mean you no harm’, the man without a name said, one hand held up in the air before him. ‘I’m just passing through here. Took a detour off the road to catch me some supper.’

The other hand, which had been held up to his shoulder swung down now to reveal two scrawny rabbits which he held out before him also.

The two men, both with a hand on the butt of their guns looked at each other in confusion. The man without a name could almost hear the cogs turning in their brains as they communicated in silence.

After a moment, they both withdrew their hands and let their jackets fall back over the holsters on their belts, concealing the guns once more.

One of them said, ‘Say, you don’t know of anywhere round here to spend the night do ya?’

The other one said, after a violent cough, ‘our horses went lame yesterday and we’ve been walking ever since. Need to make it to salt lake city for our sisters wedding ya see.’

The man without a name swung the rabbits back over his should and relaxed his stance.

‘Nothing round here except desert, Son. You’ve a three day ride in the direction of Salt Lake before you hit anywhere with a soft mattress,’ he paused and one side of his mouth rose a little, ‘or a soft woman, if it please ya.’

The two men looked at each other again. The man without a name continued. ‘Look, dark’s closing in. The nights out here are colder than a Nuns cunny and I don’t plan to be without a fire for much longer. You boys are welcome to join me for some rabbit supper. Don’t exactly look like you have much food on ya, so I’d say you don’t have many choices. Nothing like some good food in your belly to keep the night away.’

More silent communication between the men. One of them eventually nodded and they walked with the the man off the road a ways to a secluded spot sheltered by a few huge sandstone boulders.

Within an hour the man had gotten a fire going with some dried brush and fashioned a spit out of sticks he’d had slung over his back. The smell of grilled rabbit filled their little camp and before long, they all seemed relaxed and ready for a hot meal. Just as the man without a name had said, the air quickly turned to ice. A long way from the raging heat of midday.

As the rabbit began to cook through, the man without a name stood up and asked the others to keep the spit turning while he went for a piss. On his return, the man produced three small tin cups from his satchel and filled them from a water skin hanging from his belt.

‘Tea, fellas?’ He asked.

They both nodded and the man without a name tipped some loose tea in to each of the cups which were resting now in the embers. The three men sat and enjoyed grilled rabbit and hot tea by the light of the fire and each was pleased. Soon after, they were asleep.

* * * *

One man awoke shaking, a warm dribble in the corner of his mouth. Looking up he was startled to see the man without a name hunkered down before him.

‘Rise and shine sweetheart.’

‘Hersh?,’ the man sputtered and coughed. Blood sprayed from his mouth.

‘Hersh is gone. Coughing sickness right? I could tell from the minute we met, the way he coughed and held a rag to his face to catch the blood. It took him quicker I’m afraid.’

‘What do you mean?’ The man tried to get up, but the strain made him hack and spew more blood. He could even feel a warm dampness forming between his ass cheeks.

‘Vorbane. Powerful little thing.’ The man without a name was holding a small dried mushroom in one hand. ‘Very rare, I’ve brought these a long way to feed to you Pinkerton fuckers. Completely undetectable by taste or smell,’ he smiled.

‘Why,’ the man could barely speak now. Blood pouring from every hole like a fountain. ‘Why the rabbits?’

The man without a name stood up. ‘No man should die on an empty stomach, I’m not a savage.’

Then he turned and disappeared in to the black desert night.


Benjamin is a fiction writer living in Yorkshire, England. He writes anything from Epic Fantasy to Thrillers and Adventures and is a huge Stephen King fan!

Important To Be Grateful

by John M. Carlson

“I’m making spaghetti for dinner, with an apple crisp for desert,” Mom said, as she puttered about the kitchen. “I’d thought of making something special, since it’s your first night home. But I just didn’t have the time.”

“Spaghetti sounds good to me!” Indeed, I liked spaghetti. For that matter, I liked everything Mom cooked. Well, everything except liver and onions.

“I hope you’ll eat a lot of spaghetti! You’ve lost weight. You won’t do well in school if you don’t eat properly!”

Not this topic again! We’d just covered it less than a month before. I said: “I’m no thinner than I was at Thanksgiving. As I told you then, I’m eating enough. I just don’t have a lot of stuff I have at home—like deserts—and I’m walking so much.” Time to change the topic. “Can I do something to help?”

“Well, you could open a bottle of wine for dinner.”

“Sure.” I went over to the cupboard where we stored wine. “Any particular wine?”

“A red wine. Beyond that, I don’t care. It’s all the same—good for the price.” Mom sighed. “‘Good for the price!’ I get so tired of always thinking of the price! I get so tired of thinking of money. I remember what it was like ten years ago, when we could completely fill the oil tank—and we kept the house warmer! Back then, I bought nice wine more often. And back then, ‘roast’ didn’t automatically mean ‘pot roast.’ Come to think of it, when was the last time we had a real roast?”

“No idea.” I thought. The last time I could remember was when I was in junior high. I wouldn’t tell Mom that—I didn’t want to depress her by reminding her it had been so many years since the last time she’d roasted a real roast that her teenage boy had become a man. “It’s been a while. But that’s OK. I like your pot roast.”

“Good. Guess what’s on the menu for Sunday?”

I opened a bottle of wine. I reached into the glass cupboard, and started pulling out a wine glass.

“Use the nice glasses,” Mom said.

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. Maybe we should use nice things more often. They are made to be used, after all. And I can trust you now. I remember when you were six, and somehow climbed up to grab one of those glasses. I nearly had heart failure.”

I poured a couple of glasses of wine, using the nice glasses.

We sat down at the dining room table a few minutes later. Mom had me say grace. Then, we began eating. The spaghetti was, as always, wonderful. The sauce was thick, rich, and full of flavor. We had garlic bread that had buttery-garlic goodness with every bite. And the wine might be cheap, but it was good. Really good.

“You probably don’t say grace when you’re at school,” Mom said, “since you eat in the cafeteria.”

“No, I don’t say grace,” I said. Indeed, I could imagine that if I did say grace, everyone around me would think I was crazy. Especially on those all too frequent nights when dinner was beyond horrible.

“I just hope you at least remember to be grateful for all your blessings,” Mom said. “I know it’s hard sometimes—I have trouble remembering to be grateful sometimes, too! But it’s important to be grateful.”

Mom was right. I had a lot to be grateful for. I had enough to eat, even if college meals could sometimes be beyond horrible. I had a chance to go to college, unlike either of my parents. I was doing well. I had good friends. I had my family.

She was also right that sometimes it’s all too easy to lose sight of one’s blessings. One bad event can completely ruin a day that was otherwise perfect.

“I am grateful,” I said. “I am very grateful.”


John M. Carlson lives in the Seattle area. His stories have appeared in a variety of online publications. More of his work can be seen on his website.