‘Could I get a name for your coffee?’ The barista grumbled without looking up. A felt tip pen poised, she waited for the customer to answer. He flashed her a milky white smile, she kept her head down. The cords of her hair clung to her neck, she swiped them away.
‘How ‘bout I give you my number instead?’ He towered at least a foot above her. Over the warm scent of homemade buns and roasted coffee beans, the man’s musk lingered.
‘Could I get a name for your coffee?’ She repeated flatly.
‘Don,’ he handed over a loyalty card. ‘Short for Adonis.’
‘Ok, thanks,’ she scribbled the name down then swiped his card. ‘This one is free.’
‘It’s just company policy – every tenth coffee is free.’ She snarled. As the milk hissed under the steam of the coffee maker, Don stared at her. Her head was ducked down, gazing at the green icon on the paper cup.
‘Coffee for Dawn,’ she slithered the cup across the bar, turning away from the customer.
Don strode over to a small table opposite the counter. He sat down, reaching into his leather knapsack, he retrieved a laptop. He plugged it in, then kicked out one of the chairs and planted his feet on the seat. Sipping occasionally from his cup, his eyes wandered over to the barista. A tendril of hair seemed to bob and sway as she cleaned down the counters. She had her back to him now, watching the room in the large mirror hung behind the till. He could see her eyes, more green than hazel, zigzagging from table to table. As the customers began to leave, she packed away the fresh food into a wooden crate. As the last person left, Don raced over.
‘Pocketing all the stale buns?’
‘No,’ she looked down at the crate. ‘We donate leftover food to a women’s refuge.’
‘I can take that for you.’ He grabbed the crate from her hands.
‘I can manage myself,’ she spat back.
‘Cool fact,’ Don followed her into the storeroom. ‘Gorgon means terrible in Greek. So this place is actually called terrible coffee. What kind of genius would name it that?’
‘I would.’ She turned on him. Pulling the band from her hair, her dreads thistled and writhed. Dozens of snakes unfurled, they whipped in his direction. Don started to turn, to run but was frozen on the spot. He couldn’t take his eyes away from her face. She threw her head back, cackling. Her eyes glowed with a jaded hue as Don’s body turned rigid, his blood petrified, and his face fixed into a jaw-dropped stare.
‘You never even asked my name,’ She stroked his stony face, then tied up her hair. She pulled the crate from the statue’s hands. She glanced past him to the till. There stood another customer of a similar height to Don.
‘Perhaps I’ll have a matching pair,’ she seethed.
‘Are you still open?’ He called.
‘We’re just about to close,’ She yelled back. ‘But I can still make you a coffee to take out, what would you like?’
‘A latte, please.’
‘Can I get a name for the cup?’ She looked up, ready to set him with a stare.
‘Perseus,’ he smirked behind a thick pair of sunglasses. ‘And you must be Medusa.’