Brew was busy as I walked into the cafe. There were three people behind the counter, a young man who nodded his head when I arrived. He couldn’t be more than sixteen. An older man, and a young woman who was taking cash at the register from a patron. She slipped a few dollars into her palm and slid it into her pocket before putting the remainder in the till. She wasn’t very good at skimming if I managed to catch her. I wondered if anyone else had seen it.
The young man with deep brown eyes and a messy mop of hair came over to me, “You must be Nox.” He held out his hand, “I’m Rider.”
“A pleasure.” I shook his hand and I felt a shock of electricity run through my body. I jerked my hand away, “Sorry, must have picked up a charge somewhere.”
The boy, no Rider, he looked at me with wide eyes but he smiled, “No problem. Happens all time.” He waved his hand in front of him, “Let’s go in the back.”
I followed him, he was an inch or two taller than I was but we had the same build. He felt familiar as I followed him. And there was this innate desire to please him – to make him happy yet I knew nothing of him or why I would want to do that.
He sat down behind a desk, and I sat in front of it. “I’m sorry but you can’t be more than sixteen.”
He laughed, “You noticed. My sorta brother kinda owns the place, and he left me in charge when I’m not in class.”
“You must have quite the business sense on you then.” I grinned.
“Not really. I have other talents that help, and we have Will who does all the managerial stuff at night so I can do the things I need to do during the day. It’s really a team effort.”
I nodded, “Then you noticed the girl at the register skimming the till as she waited on that cash customer.”
Rider stood up and looked over at the girl and held out his finger. “You sure about that.”
I nodded, “Couldn’t miss it.”
Rider sat back down and tapped away at the computer and he turned the screen so that I could see it, “Where?”
I watched it backwards and waited until the camera caught it. It wasn’t obvious from that angle, “There.” I pointed. And Rider slowed the images down and then he saw it. “Thanks we’ve been trying to figure out who was doing that. I’ll be right back.”
Rider got up and I heard him pull the girl aside and fire her. No warning, no reason, just fired. And when he came back he was grinning, “Well, it looks like we have an opening. How about an on the job interview? Let’s see how well you can handle it.”
I shrugged, “I’ve never done this before – at least I don’t think so.”
He smiled at me, “I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem.” He went into a back room and pulled out an apron and a paper hat with Brew logo on it, “Our uniform, wear it proudly.”
I slide the apron on and tucked my head into the paper hat and stepped out to the cafe area. “Sam, this is Nox. He’s here on a trial basis. I’ll ring up the orders, you teach him the ropes.”
Sam nodded, “Alright.”
The line was out the door we were in for a busy few hours. The first order came in and Sam showed me how the screens worked and then he set to showing me the machines. The first three or four orders I watched while he did the serving. The machines were easy to use and there was some niggling of a memory of those machines like I knew more than I actually did.
“Can I read the order list and ingredients?”
Sam frowned, “Yeah. I guess.” He rummaged through a folder on the counter and pulled out the list, “This is how you make everything.”
I looked over at Rider and raised my voice when he was between customers, “You mind if I read these real quick? And then let me have a go?”
Rider’s eyebrow rose but he nodded, “Sure. Take as long as you need, just step in the office.” He looked at Sam and the other man shrugged. I did as I was instructed and read through the three pages of instructions twice. It was all relatively simple, and most of the had a similar pattern.
I stepped out and put the papers back in the folder, “Let me have a go?”
Sam nodded and stepped aside. Rider rang up the next drink I looked at the screen and saw all the modifications. Sam snickered but it wasn’t difficult, the carmel latte with skim milk instead of whole, with chocolate and non-fat whipped cream wasn’t all that unusual and I whipped it up and doodle their name on the cup like I was supposed and called out their name, “Drea.”
Drea walked up and I gave her a sweet smile, “Have a great day.” I said as she picked up her drink. I turned back to the machine and started the next two drinks. Nothing special about them, a coffee with two sugars and cream, and the other was just straight up black.
The name was Alex and I drew it with fondness. The letters feeling more like habit than anything else I’d written. I called out the name, “Alex.” And set the two cups of coffee on the counter. A man came up laughing at something the other guy with him had said. His blonde hair and green eyes jabbed at a memory but it slipped away as soon as he turned away to join the man with jet black hair. “Have a great day.” I called after him.
He turned around and winked, “You too man. Doing a great job.” He gave me a thumbs up and headed out the door.
My first day on the job netted me not only a job, but a fifty bucks I didn’t have. So I bought a cup of coffee for Abby I got her order from Will, I picked up a steak and some veggies and a bottle of red wine that would pair well with everything and Abby and I would celebrate – a new life.