Black Coffee

My brother told me he likes his coffee like he likes his strippers: black and bitter. I was offended for the usual reasons, and also because it’s a dead joke. He could’ve spiced it up. You know, “I like my iced tea like I like my hip-hop; black and refreshing,” or, “I like my coffee like I like my cabana boys; Brazilian and creamy with a propensity toward The Miami Sound Machine and day-glo thongs.” But then he explained that he thought it was funny because every morning he imagines a tiny stripper on a tiny stripper pole dancing under tiny disco balls swirling, and the faint sounds of tiny house music playing at the bottom of his coffee mug. “Hey, Baby,” she calls to him. And he asks her about her kids and she says, “Oh you know how it is, Baby. They don’t know shit, and they think their shit don’t stink.” And my brother smiles and nods and says “Mmhmm,” and rests his chin on his fist while sitting at the breakfast counter at a ramshackle diner, on a pine stool that’s stained with coffee drips down its legs, warning the server in a grease-splattered apron not to refill his cup. And when he leaves, when he’s done listening to his tiny stripper groan about the bills, and her man’s laziness, and her boy’s stank-ass feet in her tiny southern drawl, and he glances once again at the same rusted initials scratched into the aluminum napkin dispenser, and then to the blue, faded, plastic frame on the wall, it’s corners covered in graying cobwebs, he rolls up a dollar bill and places it inside the coffee mug, and makes another joke about it being the biggest tip she’s ever gotten. He’s right. It is funny.


Erin Osborne

About Erin Osborne

Erin Osborne's short fiction is currently appearing in the 2015 issue of NOON Annual. Her work has also appeared in Elhoi Gadugi, M Review and Habit. She lives in Beaverton, Oregon and is at work on a collection of stories.
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