#168. Push a raisin into someone's cream-filled donut.
On 22nd Street in New York City, there was a small, cozy coffee shop. The sign above the door proudly named it as Reed's Cafe, c. 1987. It was an inviting place- sunlight filtered in through the windows and the interior smelled of coffee and pastries.
It was 9:30 AM on a Wednesday and a boy stood behind the counter. He rested a hip against the wood, shaking his scruffy black hair out of his face. His slender, tattooed fingers drummed out a rhythm as he waited for customers to arrive. His name was Frank, and he was the only employee working that shift.
There was a jingle from the bell above the door as a middle-aged woman in a business suit walked in. Frank ceased his drumming and straightened up.
"Good morning," he said cheerfully. "What can I get for you today?"
The woman smiled warmly. "Just a small coffee and a blueberry danish, please."
"Sure thing!" said Frank. "For here or to go?"
"To go" was the answer he received. He nodded and quickly poured some of the freshly brewed coffee in a cup, handing it to the woman along with her danish.
"Thank you, come again!" he called after her as she walked out of the shop. He sighed and leaned back against the counter. However, he didn't have long to relax as barely a minute after the lady walked out, the bell rang a second time and a boy who looked to be about nineteen, around Frank's age at least, walked in. Frank straightened himself up again.
"Good morning, what can I get for you?" Frank gave the boy a big smile.
The boy ducked behind his curtain of black hair. "Um, actually, I'm starting work here today..." he said quietly. "My name's Gerard."
"Right!" Frank exclaimed. "I can't believe I forgot! Hi, I'm Frank! It's really nice to meet you."
He held out a hand, which Gerard regarded warily before reaching out and shaking it.
"Here, let me get you an apron," Frank said after a minute. He reached under the counter and pulled ouut one of the dark blue aprons with the Reed's Cafe logo stamped across the front. "I'll take orders and you can put together drinks and stuff, sound okay?"
Gerard nodded, tying the apron around his neck and taking a place behind the counter.
They stood in silence for a while, Gerard staring off into the distance. Frank studied him as subtly as he could. He was taller than Frank (most people were) but only a little. His dark hair was in sharp contrast with his pale skin, and he held himself with a faraway, dreamy air.
"So..." Frank said, deciding he would start a conversation. "What kind of stuff are you into?"
Gerard looked slightly startled at being spoken to. "Um, I dunno..." he mumbled. "Art... Comics... Music..."
"Sweet!" Frank beamed. "Those are like, three of my vices, dude! I mean, well, I can't actually DO art, but I love it. Music, on the other hand..."
Gerard ducked his head shyly. "What kind of music?"
"Rock, punk, metal, y'know. That kinda thing."
"Me too." Gerard said, and Frank noticed he wasn't quite so quiet any more.
"Can I call you Gee?" he blurted out suddenly.
Gerard's eyes widened slightly, but he smiled. "Sure, if you wanna. And if I can call you Frankie."
"Sweet!" Frank crowed. "And that's cool, everyone calls me Frankie."
Just then, the bell above the door jingled for a third time and a man in expenisive-looking clothing strode in.
"I'll have a large orange mocha half-soy decaf cappuccino and a Boston Cream donut," he said loudly before Frank could even say good morning.
Gerard went to work making his drink as Frank rang it up. He finished it just as the man handed over his money and passed it over the counter. The man took one sip and made a face.
"This isn't half-soy!" he snapped. "This is full soy!"
Gerard went red. "Sorry, sir," he said timidly. "I'll make you a new one."
He took the drink back and tossed it into the garbage under the counter. He hurriedly made a new one, handing it to the man.
"You forgot the orange!" the man complained. He glared at Gerard, who was still flushing furiously. "Make a new one!"
"Hey, calm down, man, it's his first day," Frank said, trying to calm the man down.
"I don't care if it's just his first day! He's fucking up my coffee order! How hard can it be to make?!"
Frank almost snapped at him, but managed to restrain himself. "Gee, I'll make the coffee, okay?"
Gerard nodded weakly. "Kay," he said, his voice back to being quiet.
Frank whipped together the man's fancy drink and handed it to the him. He then went to the food display.
"We're all out of Boston Cream. I'll go get one from the back," he said coldly.
He wandered through to the kitchen and snatched a Boston Cream donut off one of the shelves. He was about to turn and leave when his gaze fell on the jars of ingredients stacked on the shelves. Suddenly, he had a brilliant idea.
A few minutes later, he exited the kitchen and handed the man his donut. The man immediately turned and left, slamming the door behind him.
Frank turned to face Gerard, who looked close to tears. "I'm sorry I fucked up the drink order..." he mumbled.
"It's totally fine, that guy was an asshole," Frank said. He hesitated before resting a hand on Gerard's arm. Gerard looked up and he gave him an evil grin. "And since he was such an asshole... I put a raisin into the center of his donut."
Gerard stared at him for a moment before bursting out giggling. It was a lovely sound, and Frank beamed.
At the end of the day, when they had finished closing up shop, Frank approached Gerard.
"Hey, Gee," he said, holding up a marker. "Give me your arm."
Gerard looked vaguely suspicious but held his arm out.
Frank took it and scribbled his number on Gerard's soft, pale skin. "I know I'll see you tomorrow at work. But text me, maybe?"
Gerard grinned. "Sure," he said. "I'll see you tomorrow, Frankie."
Frank grinned, watching him walk away. He was definitely looking forward to work the next day.