I loved Brian.
Until he began drooling all over himself. He was several customers back in my line at the coffee shop. I purposefully worked slow with my current order, terrified by the idea of waiting on him.
I worried that maybe he was alone, and I’d have to struggle with a conversation barrier.
I worried that I’d make him repeat his order through limp, saliva covered lips until I got it right.
It was a different sort of fear.
A horror, in fact, horrified by the Picasso displacement of his face, and the crooked man shuffle of his walk as he dragged his back leg forward and approached the bar.
He was with an older woman.
She said: “I’ll have a large iced latte, and Brian tell them what you’ll have.”
His eyes traveled up to meet mine, magnified behind inch thick black rimmed glasses. His eyes moved, not his head, because it was caught at a permanent angle atop his bent neck.
“Branilllla Mikshik” he slurred, and a dollop of clear far spit lept from his lip. I heard it smack the floor. Something inside me twisted and turned. My stomach threatened to rebel against me, and I spun towards my espresso machine.
I let myself go in the angry hum of the hoppers. I watched a cyclone of perfect brown haze line the inside of the canister. I watched it fill my group head perfectly through tear flooded eyes. I just wanted him to leave. I wanted the perfectly timed 25 second shots to flow faster, I wanted the vanilla milkshake to make itself.
At first I was really happy that Brian would never understand the rest of the worlds fear of him. I was in love with the idea that he’d live in a perfect little heaven, one where he didn’t know that he was being teased, or stared at. I was glad he didn’t notice the other customers sidling away from him.
But it hit me. Perhaps my little Brians problems were not mental. Perhaps his body had sabotaged him from the beginning, and all his troubles lay in his motor skills. He was born with crooked limbs, and mismatched orifices. Maybe Brian saw the world the way everyday people see it, but he lived in it with this broken sack of bones he was dealt.
And here I was… grinding, packing, tamping, stirring… I was working my body, my machine, like it was meant to be… and I was terrified of him.
I am an asshole.
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