It was breathing. The rather nondescript chest rose with each breath. And it was staring at him.
The fingers of the figure were on the counter and he realized that the figure was tapping out a rhythm, “Are you quite finished?” the figure said in response to his stares. Its voice was rich and raspy, belying nothing of the nature of its sex.
He walked casually up to the counter, eyeing the frame of the figure, slowing making eye contact, “You like?” it said and gave him a smile, wide and full of teeth.
“I do…” I words slipped out and suddenly realized that the figure must have been a man, “That’s not what I meant. Let me rephrase that…”
The figure still smiled, keeping eye contact, “Well you were giving me a thoroughly extended judgment. I was wondering what you thought.” Another smile and the figure laid its hand on his hand that was now resting on the bar. He didn’t remember doing that.
“I wasn’t judging…” the words spilled out. The hand felt soft. He looked down at the hands intertwined, but still felt that the figure was watching him.
“You weren’t?” it said surprised and pulled the hand away. He looked up at the figure, but now there was a woman behind the counter. A woman with red lips, blonde hair, blue eyes, and the largest tits he had said on any woman. “Now what do you think?” the voice was still rich and raspy, and this time seductive. “Maybe I should judge you, if you are going to judge me?” She raised one eyebrow, coyly.
He was partly turned on and partly disgusted, so he laughed, “There is only one who can judge me.” He was determined to not let this person get the better of him. “Besides, I don’t know who you are.” Looking around the coffee shop, “Hell, I don’t even know where I am.” He smiled, feeling more confident now.
“Most don’t when they come to my place,” the woman smiled and turned slowly away. In a moment the room grew brighter and there was now a man in a crisp three piece suit behind the counter, “Is this more to your liking?” another devilish smile showed the figure’s pearly whites.
“Who are you?” he said, eying the man, “And are you coming on to me?” He tried to back up but couldn’t.
“Is that what you think? The figure sauntered slowly around the counter towards him. “That you are here for pleasure?”
“I’m not gay!” it didn’t sound like a statement, but wasn’t quite a question, as he took a step back and almost fell over. “I’m not…” The figure stood and put it’s arms around his shoulders. Face to face he now felt uncomfortable. Stuttering a little he said, “Where am I? Is this supposed to be heaven?” looking around, sure to find clouds, ethereal light, and cherubs with golden halos; but there he was standing in a coffee shop. It was small, but there were about seven tables inside and the sunshine filled the place with a warm glow, which he took for the ethereal holistic depiction of heaven. There was the smell of roasted coffee that suddenly filled his nostrils and sticky buns that made his mouth water. While still in the loose embrace of the figure, “Am I dead?”
The figure laughed and shook its head, turning once again into the androgynous figure from before, red vest, cloak, and all. “Is that what you think?” Another laugh.
“Well, you have changed your face three time now, what else am I to think?” Not budging from the embrace. “Are you God?”
The figure laughed, smiling a full and bright smile. Bringing its head closer to his. He saw that its eyes were blue and then blinked to a green, “Is that what you think I am?” It laughed again.
“I do…” the words echoed from his mouth. He felt like he was far away, “Is this a dream?” The figure leaned over and kissed him. The lips felt soft and tasted like honey.
When the figure pulled away it said, “Is that real?”
Eyes wide, thinking and processing, “Oh God, are you the Devil?”
“So quick to jump to conclusions, Sir,” and the figure pulled away, head turning slowly form him.
“No, don’t.” He jumped outstretched, “Please don’t change again. Just stay where I can see you.”
The figure turn back to face him, “Okay.”
He was aware of how empty the place was, not a single costumer inside or any that had come in. “Just stand there,” his voice trembled. “Where am I?” he asked, eyes fully on the figure.
“Just a Cup Coffeehouse,” the figure said.
“I’ve never been here, have I?”
“It’s not a normal stop. Thinking of it as a waiting room,” the figure smiled and gestured to the room. “Would you like a coffee, or maybe a tea? We have some delicious scones too,” the figure made a gesture to the display case on the counter.
“So, I am not dead?”
The figure did not laugh, but looked directly at him. “No, well, we have to make a choice before you can leave, don’t we.” The figure winked. “I was thinking of changing the name to Sticks and Stirs, what do you think?”
“Um, that sounds a bit different. So, I am almost dead?”
“Maybe I will just keep it as Just a Cup. Nobody would get it anyway.” Tipping its head the figure continued, “Not sure. Oh, well” The figure crossed back to the bar. “Oh and not quite.” Gesturing to the coffee shop, “This place is where one comes to after judgment to wait to move on, but in your case, you have only to choose. Now you, Sir, have a choice to make.”
“Choice?” he said surprised. “But what did I do? I can’t seem to remember what just happened to me prior to walking through the front door.” And he gestured to the front doors that were now clearly visible.
“Yes. You need to choose, and then you will be free to leave. But I will warn you, you will not like either choice…”
“Oh, god no…” he dropped to the floor.
“You remember now?”
“I do…” he whispered
The voice echoed across the empty coffee shop. “I gotta choose whether she lives or I die? Is that right?”
“Do you?” the voice of the figure now stood over him and echoed, like the coffee shop was much bigger on the inside.
“Why?” he asked.
“It’s a way,” all of the emotion was gone from the voice.
“We were to get married,” he voice took on a dream like quality as he remembered, “The wedding, I was on my way. I had been out late the night before…Celebrating that last day. I woke up late, and was trying to get ready. Rushing,” he voice hurried and frantic, “There was an accident. I wasn’t looking…I hit a car. Oh God!” He looked up at the figure. “I hit a car, it was bad. I hit a car, because I wasn’t looking.” His voice edged with tears
“You hit a car, yes.” The figure grabbed his arms, standing him up and shaking its head and the blonde’s face returned. The figure shook it’s head and become the man again. “Do you remember now?”
“The blonde, it was her. I was Britta.”
“The man was me. Is me.”
He swallowed hard, “I have to choose to let Britta live and then I will die. Or I get to live, but I lose Britta.” The figure’s first face had returned, “Why would you make me choose?” he asked. Tears fell into his cheeks, “What kind of god are you?”
“I am not god, and I am not the one to judge you. You really are the only one who can judge you, Sir.” The figure leaned close, lips almost to his, “I am just here to help the ones ready to pass over.” The figure flashed a smile, all teeth and bright white. The face looked thinner thin. The rich and raspy voice continued. “I am just here, waiting…”
“In the flesh!” and the figure giggled. “I hate to hurry folks along, but this coffee shop needs to open and you are taking up space. Not to be rude, but it’s YOUR choice, Sir.”
“My choice, why?”
“Because you were the one that chose to rush, not to pay full attention and you have to face that choice. The choice is you or her. What is it?”
“But who make these decisions?”
“It has always been that way. It is what I do. Now your choice, Sir! So we can move along.
He stood there and stared at the figure with the androgynous face, smiling. A quick flick and Britta’s face was there and then his face. He wanted to be selfish, but he could argue with Death. Could he?
“No you can’t. I am afraid it is one or the other. Please choose!” the voice become a bit more persistent. The coffee shop’s lights dimmed and he could hear the heart monitor beeping. He suddenly could see Britta in her bed all hooked up to machines.
He started to cry, “I don’t want to choose!” he declared.
“If you don’t then, you stay here and she stay in her bed forever. Nothing more will happen and I will have to open another coffee shop and leave you here to service an empty coffee shop.” The words were bitterly amused, “You will be in,” a giggle, “purgatory. End of story. And you will only be able to watch her hospital room. You want that?” pointing to the back wall of the coffee shop.
No.” He stared at the wall. “No, I choose to let her live.” He wiped away the tears.
The figure smiled, and the face changed, “Thank you, Darling!” and the figure as Britta came over and kissed him long and hard. He was going to miss those lips, as she pulled away, the figure’s gaunt face returned. “Now, you will get to stay here and meet those who have to choose.” It smiled its toothy grin, its face even gaunter, almost skeletal now.
“But, I thought I would be going on? To Heaven. Or Hell.”
“Well, you will be going on to your next assignment. That happens to be running this place until someone comes to replace you. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. This is a rotating position. Oh, don’t worry, the coffee is fresh and the scones are to die for.” The figure laughed and walked out of the front doors that closed with a merry chime.
He watched the wall as Britta began to wake up. The colour drained from his face when suddenly the chimed sounded. He turned and saw a woman, short with red hair enter looking lost and confused. He smiled a big toothy grin and said, “Welcome to Just a Cup!”