When I was working on an early version of the Empowered series, I did a few practice writing riffs. One of them featured a snarky ex-super-villain having an afternoon date with her boyfriend at their favorite coffee shop. It soon took on a life of its own, as practice riffs sometimes do. I ended up with a flash fiction story called “Coffee Shop Crisis,” which ended up running in Every Day Fiction. If you want a different, amusing take on superheroes and super-villains, read on. A perfect story to read on your coffee break!
Coffee Shop Crisis
Dale Ivan Smith
All I wanted was a day off and a date with Christopher at Tai’s Mokka Korner, no costume, no super powers, no so-called heroes wrecking things. Chris wanted things to be different. This girl was working on it.
We were at our favorite table, a little round number, seated in plush wooden chairs, drinking Tai’s “Secret Blend”, our favorite coffee drink at Mokka Korner, which was our favorite coffee shop in all of Seattle, when my least favorite person in the whole wide world strode in from the rain swept street.
Dolomite. He had super strength. He could toss a bus like a brick. They called him a super hero. He was a super jerk as far as I was concerned.
He stomped inside, his shale-colored cape billowing, autumn leaves tumbling after him. Rain plastered his long black hair to his scalp, and the bedraggled locks trailed off to either side, giving him a bad mullet.
His gaze swept the room but he didn’t react when he looked at Chris and me. After all I wasn’t wearing my armor and my red hair was loose instead of in a braided pile under a dura-alloy helmet.
Dolomite strode to the counter. Water splattered the floor as he walked past a man and woman in business wear sitting together.
“Watch the breeze, buddy,” the man said.
“You are dripping water over everything, the woman added.
Dolomite ignored them.
Tai worked the counter that afternoon. He must have recognized Dolomite but he didn’t miss a beat.
“What can I get for you, sir?”
“Coffee,” Dolomite said, in a fake Italian accent. He claimed his super power made him Italian, but he was from Omaha.
“Well sir, we have a lot of choices here.”
“Funny man, eh? I will tell you this, if I wanted a double espresso with hazelnut, I would have said so. And if I wanted a vanilla latte with extra nutmeg, I would have requested that. I desire only coffee.”
“Americano then, sir?”
Dolomite frowned. “The thing I like least is people taking words and making them sound like they came from a language not their own. In particular, I dislike it when that is done to words from Italian.
“I want coffee, black. No cream. No sugar. Simplicity itself.”
“You don’t need to be an asshole,” the man in the business suit said.
Dolomite glanced back. “Please, citizen, keep to your seat and enjoy your beverage. This is none of your concern.”
Amazing that Crime Fighters North America had kept Dolomite on.
“So, that’s the big bad Dolomite?” Chris whispered.
“He can stop a bus by just standing still.”
“But apparently not catch a clue when it comes to fashion.”
Dolomite snapped his head around and glared in my direction.
I covered my mouth.
Chris held up his newspaper, mouthing, “please don’t.”
“I’ll be good,” I whispered back.
“Your coffee, sir.” Tai held a Grande cup out to Dolomite.
Dolomite sniffed and his face puckered. “The beans are not roasted in the proper style.”
“Sir, this is our house blend. Fire-roasted.”
“Your house blend is inadequate.”
Chris gave me a concerned look. “Fresh start,” he reminded me.
“It is.” Chris had wanted me to give up my old ways. I was trying, I really was.
I wasn’t going to get involved. It would lead to all sorts of trouble, and ruin our date. Also, I really didn’t want to send Dolomite to the hospital again.
Dolomite snatched the cup from Tai’s, brandished it. “I will announce this coffee’s imperfections to all passerbies, until you change the blend.”
Tai’s face paled.
A superhero, even a jerk like Dolomite, standing outside Mokka Korner, bad-mouthing the coffee could ruin the business. The regulars knew that Tai’s fire-roasted blend was awesome, but competition for java dollars was brutal in Seattle. Bad press could kill the bottom line.
Damn it. Dolomite threatened my favorite coffee shop, one place where I could go with Chris for a long talk while staring into each other’s eyes.
“Sorry, hon,” I told Chris. I kissed him. “Just this last time, I promise.”
He started to reply but I darted out the back door.
The alley behind Mokka Korner was deserted. I pulled up the manhole cover and slipped below street level, to find my backup outfit. A girl never knew when she might have to pull off a crime. Or in this case, distract a lunkhead.
A moment later, I was dressed for business. I soared through the opening, raindrops sliding off my armor. Frictionless metal came in handy. I hovered just above the pavement and kicked the steel cover back in place.
I landed atop the Java Empire across Third Street from Tai’s Mokka Korner. Might as well include the competition.
“Hey slag head!” I shouted at Dolomite
He jerked his head up. I flipped him off.
“Miscreant!” His bellow echoed off the neon Java Empire sign behind me.
I stuck out my tongue.
Dolomite grabbed a metal newspaper box and hurled it at me. I dropped to street level. The makeshift projectile smashed the sign where I had stood.
I grinned. “That the best you can do?”
He roared again and bounded across Third in one huge leap. His booted feet smacked the roof of a cab, sending it careening into a lamp post.
I jumped sideways and he crashed through Java Empire’s doors, and into the counter, sending customers scrambling, and toppling the nearest coffee machine with a huge rending crash.
I wrenched open the remains of the shattered door. “Get out if you want to live,” I yelled at the people cowering inside.
I always wanted to say that.
Then I flew off. My day had been ruined, but my foe’s was ruined worse, and my favorite coffee shop was still in business. Not bad for an almost ex-super villain.