In a Flash

So I’m neck deep in my current manuscript, and realized I had little time this week to really concentrate on my post for Murderati. Actually, the problem is my head is so in the book, I can’t think of a decent enough topic to discuss. So I decided I’d do something different…a little early holiday fun…

Several years ago I published a few works of flash fiction online. It’s been awhile since any of them appeared anywhere, so I thought I’d post one of my favorite today. Some of you may have read this already, so apologies. Those of you who haven’t, I hope you enjoy!

 

VENTI LATTE

By Brett Battles

 

“The large one.”

“You mean venti?” the barista asked. She was probably just barely out of high school.

“Sure. Venti. That’s the large, right?” the man asked.

“That’s the large.”

“Good.”

“Can I get your name?”

The man looked around. “Why? Is there a line?”

There was no line.

“Right. Sorry. I’m a little nervous,” she said.

“This your first day?”

“No. Third.”

“You’re doing fine.”

And she was, too. Her customer service was all he could have expected.

“How much?” he asked.

She hesitated for a moment like she hadn’t understood what he was saying, then shook herself and rang up his drink.

“Three forty-five,” she said.

“Annie.” It was one of her co-workers. The red-headed kid who looked like he could use a little sun. “Just give it to him.”

“It’s okay,” the man said. “I don’t mind paying.”

He pulled a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the girl. Once she had given him his change, he dumped it all in the tip jar.

While the rest of her co-workers and pretty much everyone in the coffee shop watched, Annie made the venti latte. No one offered to help, but she seemed to have everything under control.

Somewhere in the distance, there was the faint sound of a siren.

The man waited contentedly as she finished frothing up the milk and adding it to his cup. Once she was done, she put a lid on top and slipped a safety sleeve around the base. Her hands weren’t even shaking as she handed the drink to him.

The sirens were closer now, probably only six or seven blocks away. The man took a sip of the latte, then smiled.

“This is great.”

“Thanks,” Annie said.

“You have a good day,” he told her.

“You, too.”

Except for his footsteps on the tiled floor, the coffee shop was silent. Everyone’s eyes were on him, but he acted like he didn’t notice. The only abnormal thing he did was step over the dead body of the would-be robber lying in the middle of the floor.

The unlucky bastard’s gun was still in his hand. An ancient .38 special. God only knew how much damage the kid had done with it in the past.

As the assassin opened the front door, he glanced back at the counter. Annie was still there, watching him. As he gave her a little wave, she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”

He smiled and walked out to his car. A glance at his watch told him he was still ahead of schedule. That was fine. It was never good to kill someone when you were in a rush.

 

16 thoughts on “In a Flash

  1. Lorena

    Well done. And given enough bullet holes in the dead guy, venti latte nicely becomes "ventilated"!

  2. Dao

    I saw a typo in this sentence:

    "While the rest of her co-workers and pretty much everyone in the coffee shop watched, Annie made the made a venti latte."

    Is it "made the" or "made a"? I think the former one sounds better. I am sorry, my inner nitpicker tends to come out when I read. This is a fantastic story, btw. How did you manage to put such a twist in such a short piece of work? I need to learn.

  3. Brett Battles

    Sticking my head in quickly to thank you for the comments!

    Dao, HA! Nice catch. That's what I get for not closely rereading the story before I posted. Going in and fixing it now. (I blame my lack of time because I can. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

  4. KDJames

    I remember reading this before and being very impressed. Reading it this time, I find I'm disturbed and more than a little freaked out. Because this time my college graduate daughter is making venti lattes in a coffee shop in New Orleans while looking for a "real" job. Thanks, Brett. Thanks a lot.

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