Winter Hits the City

Steve Mullett

The cold wind stung Collaboratorís ears as he walked down the hill for a hot cup of joe. "If itís like this tomorrow, Iím either wearing my ear-flap hat or making my own joe at home," he said to the squirrel which was frozen at his feet. "Whatever," the squirrel would have said if it were alive and could talk.

Inside of five minutes, Collaborator thought he was about to freeze to death, but fortunately, he reached The Joe Joint just in time. The manager, Extra, looked very, very glad to see him as she looked up from her book of crossword puzzles.

"Hi, Collaborator. Youíre sure a sight for sore eyes. I havenít seen a soul all day."

Collaborator looked at his watch, which had stopped on the way there because the battery acid froze, but it said 3 p.m. "Good Lord! not a soul?"

"Not a single, solitary soul."

"You opened at six in the morning as usual, right?"

"Six in the morning as usual."

"And in nine-plus hours, youíve had just one customer?"

"Assuming you order something, Iíve had one customer. Looks like everyoneís making their own joe at home. I canít get anyone to come into work, not that I need them. I wouldnít be here myself if I didnít live upstairs. Hot cup of joe?"

"Yes, of course. I didnít know you lived upstairs, Extra. Come to think of it, I donít know a thing about you. I come in here every day, get me a hot cup of joe, chat with you about the weather or the lottery jackpot or the reasons Sanskrit died as a language, but I donít know you at all."

"Thatís true," said Extra, handing him his hot cup of joe. "I donít know where you live either. You must live awfully close to have come here on a day like today. Iím sure your car couldnít start."

"Quite correct, and my camel wonít leave his hut," said Collaborator, sipping his hot cup of joe. "So are you just going to stay here and work the whole day yourself?"

"No, itís hardly worth the gas to keep the heat on down here," she said, tossing her pretty head coyly. "Iíll probably just go up to my apartment and watch a movie. Do you like movies?"

"Sure do," he said on his way to the door. "Welp, see you tomorrow."

Extra watched him walk the block-and-a-half up the hill to his house. After the spring thaw, sheíd throw rocks at it.