The First Clue Is You Can't Find Your Coffee Cup

by aroslav

Copyright© 2016 to Elder Road Books

Humor Story: When you are just minding your own business and not bothering anybody, sometimes it's easy to miss the clues. Here's my advice. This story was first published in a magazine, November 2010.

Tags: Fiction   Paranormal  

All right! I know you don’t believe me. But that’s what hit me first.

I been carting this coffee cup from job to job to job for seventeen years, see? Not that I can’t hold on to a job, like, but you know the economy. Well, it’s a special two-cup cup, see? That’s the only way you can get enough coffee when it comes out of the pot fresh. I mean, because when it gets down to the last cup or so in the pot, nobody’ll drink it for a couple of hours and it gets really putrid, if you know what I mean. So, I try to get a lot of it as soon as it quits dripping. If I’m right on the spot, I just stick my cup under the coffee maker spout while it’s dripping and then quick as a wink slide the pot under when my cup’s full. Mmm mmm.

So. I goes on vacation. I’m real careful about this because the axe falls at the strangest times and people sort of forget who still works there. You could come back to work and find somebody else at your desk just because they thought you’d been let go. So, I washes my cup, because I don’t like that fungus that grows there if I leave it, and I sets it back in the middle of my desk next to the telephone with a pen beside it and a notepad with an unfinished note to the group secretary, so it looks like I just stepped out to the little boys’ room, then I goes on vacation.

It was swell. I’m out on the beach soaking up a few rays and doing my duty to those that needs it done, you know. The old man still has it going. I sort of lose track of time out there and all of a sudden my vacation’s zapped. It’s Monday morning at seven o’clock and I’m standing in my last clean pair of underwear staring at the clock. Then it really hits me. It’s seven o’clock on the Monday morning that I’m supposed to be back to work at eight. And in ten days of vacation, I haven’t ironed one clean shirt; I haven’t packed my briefcase; I haven’t gotten change for the bus fare; I haven’t called my mother. (I always do that when I’m on vacation.)

Lord! Was I in a fix. I mean to tell you, I didn’t get to work till nine-fifteen. I figure there’s no way I’m going to slip in and look like I been at my desk since seven-thirty, so I’m just going to hitch up the balls, walk in the front door, say hi to everybody, and make like it’s no big deal. But lo and behold! I walks in and the receptionist is so tied up on the phone with three more lines ringing, she doesn’t even notice me when I wave. Our group secretary is already out on her ten o’clock break. There isn’t a soul moving in the hall, and I walks in and sits down at my desk. I mean, I’m looking at my calendar to see if it’s a holiday the place is so dead.

I’m thinking, hey, I got it made. Then it hits me. Bam! My coffee cup’s gone. For that matter, so’s the pen and paper. Well, I can understand the pen and paper. Anybody might need that and see it and ... well, I do it all the time, you know. But my coffee cup? I washed it out before I left. I should have left the green gobs of goo growing in it.

Well, somebody’s got hell to pay, I tell you. Then I thinks, maybe they just dropped it in my desk drawer, like to get it out of the way. But the desk is locked and in the rush, I left my keys at the house this morning. I don’t even know how I’m going to get back in when I get home. It’s getting to be a real frustrating day. I’d have turned around and gone back home right then, but the way things were going, I’m not sure I’d make it in time for dinner. Besides which, I really got to go relieve myself. It’s already feeling like I had a few cups and its almost time for my ten o’clock break, so I steps out a minute.

Actually, you know, it’s that time of the morning, and I was out for several minutes. About fifteen or twenty, I guess. Well, to take the short-cut across the lawn, I get back to my office and the door’s locked. I didn’t lock the door. I don’t have my keys. I’m thinking maybe I got the wrong door. So, I looks up at the door and the little magnetic nameplate is gone.

It don’t take long for the message to soak in. I been sacked. Them no good sons of Knute laid me off while I was on vacation!

Heh! I know my rights, and I’m burning pretty hot by now, what with one thing and another, so I marches back to the accounting department to get my last paycheck and give them a piece of my mind. But do you think anybody there even has the common decency to stop and talk to me? Not on your life. I got to have an appointment to see the controller. I blew up at that poor little girl behind the desk. I mean in a bad way. It’s not really like me to do that, you know. She busts out in tears and hollers that if one more S.O.B. like me yells at her she’s quitting and filing a harassment suit. Then she runs out to the girls’ room.

Oh for the love of...

You know, I didn’t care all that much about the check anyway. What’re they going to do? Burn it? No. They’ll just mail it out to me if I’m not there to collect it. It’ll get to me about as fast as my expense checks do, so it ought to be a merry Christmas anyway. When it comes right down to it, I’m not even that upset about the job. I didn’t want to come back to work this morning anyway. I’m thinking beach and bright sun and bikinis. I’m going back on vacation!

Except for one thing. What really burns my hide is that somebody back there in their plush office with a nice secure job and everything they ever wanted in life is sitting around drinking two cups of fresh coffee every time a pot finishes dripping. Out of my cup. That shittin’ depressed me.

I don’t mind telling you, I started early that day and I quit late. It finally dawned on me that there’s more whiskey behind that bar than I could drink at one sitting. So, I crawls off the stool and drags myself toward the door. I’m about halfway out when this little chicky baby comes running up beside me and says, “Hey sweetie, you dropped your wallet.”

I checks the pockets one after another and sure enough it’s gone, and sure enough she’s got it in her hand. Then she says, “You look like you could use a friend. Can I drive you home?”

Well, I’m not usually so slow on the uptake, but I did a pretty good number on myself, so I gets in her car and she heads out of the parking lot. Honest to God! I didn’t know she meant to her home!

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