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Tell me a story, he said (short Story: 1058 words)(PG)

It was a day like every other for Damian. Making coffee for the masses, putting little patterns in the foam – and taking special effort for those that would appreciate it (or because they looked cute).  And like every other day, when he got those first twenty minutes to have a break, he would reach into his back pocket, pull out his Tarot cards, shuffle them, take a deep breath and say…

“Tell me a story”.

The Cracked Tower.

 

“Can I borrow your jacket?” asked Tamsin.  “Gregory’s going to walk me home because we can’t drive like this and it’s freezing out!”

“Sure” replied Mary, “I’ll get a lift from Stacey when she goes; she’s not drinking tonight.”  Mary handed over the coat.

“I’ll get it back to you tomorrow” said Tamsin.

“No rush” said Mary, “I won’t need it until next weekend anyway.”

 

A couple of days later, Stacey phoned Mary.

“HOW COULD YOU???” she screamed at her.

“How could I what?” asked Mary.

“Of all the people – my best friend! I knew that Gregory was a lying toad, but you… I trusted you!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Oh, OK, let’s play that game then.  Just tidied my house, and found YOUR COAT down the back of our bed on GREGORY’S SIDE!  I can’t believe it… you…”  the line went dead.

Mary felt a shiver of cold run through her.  Gregory and Stacey’s place was on the way home from the club and they would have had to pass by it to get to Tamsin’s… Mary tried to phone back, but it went straight to voicemail.  Immediately she called Tamsin.

“Where’s my coat?” asked Mary.

“Mine, somewhere” replied Tamsin.

“Only I need it sort of now…. there’s a receipt in the pocket that I need to be able to claim my expenses.  I’ll come over and pick it up if that’s OK – I’ve looked everywhere and it’s the only other place I can think it is.”

“Sure, OK, I’ll see you in five.”  Tamsin waited until it was clear that the line had been disconnected.  “You better get out of here quick” she said to Gregory.

 

Damian looked at the card.  The Cracked Tower.  What could it mean?  Perhaps the next card would offer something to the tale.  He pulled the second card and turned it over.

The Ten of Swords.

 

Mary was there in four minutes.  Actually she was there in three – plenty of time to see Gregory leave her place.  She walked up and knocked on the door.  Tamsin answered, looking a little flush.

“Wow! You were here quick! I … I haven’t had chance to look yet.”

“Don’t bother” said Mary. “I know where it is… you left it at Gregory’s place when he walked you home.  I just wanted to look you straight in the eye to tell you that.  Now, with all the calm I can possibly muster, I want to say two more things to you.  One: I just hope you have the balls to tell Stacey because it’s clear Gregory doesn’t. Two: Leave me the hell alone – forever.”

With that, Mary walked back to her car.  She got in, sat down and the adrenaline left her body – to be replaced with great heaves of tears.  Two friendships. Done and ended, all in the space of 15 minutes.

When she gathered herself, she drove to the coffee shop.  Perhaps Damian could make her a Latte.

 

Damian looked at his watch.  He had enough time to pull a card and perhaps grab a quick cigarette.  His expresso would have cooled enough to drink as a straight shot then.  The third card was almost expected.

Death.

 

Mary walked into the coffee shop.  Damian had returned and that made her feel a little better.  He shot the expresso with an almost guilty smile before smiling and saying to Mary, “You look like you need something stronger than a coffee.”

Mary smiled.  “Would be nice – but it’s a bit early in the day.  Skinny Latte please.”

With practiced fingers, Damian made the drink.  As he created the leaf pattern he said to Mary, “You know, baristas are like the day time bar tender.  You can tell us anything and it stays here.”  He smiled, a genuine warm smile and for a moment Mary forgot herself and smiled back.  “I may have to take you up on that… when it gets a little quiet here.”

Mary picked up her drink, turned and her eyes immediately latched onto Stacey’s. Stacey’s eyes widened, then a blaze of fury shot across her.  With her hands full of latte glass and saucer, Mary did the only thing she could – she dropped the whole thing.

“No Stacey – please – no – it wasn’t me!  Please!!”

The clatter of saucer, cup, glass brought Damian out in an instance.

“What’s happening?” he asked.  Before Stacey could say anything, or go, Mary exclaimed

“My friend was cheated on by someone – not me – but it looks like it is me, but it isn’t!!!”

Damian looked up – straight at Stacey.  “Is this your friend?” he asked.
“Yes” said Mary.

“NO.” said Stacey.

Damian stood up.  “Look, I’ve got enough to clear up here, but why don’t you sit there – and you sit there.  Give me a couple of moments – Hey Bill, can you clean this up – I’m going to see if I can hang on to two customers over here.”

Damian sat down with Stacey and Mary. Mary didn’t need prompting to help her – she immediately opened up and whilst Damian needed to get Stacey to listen, soon enough she was listening.  Damian went away and made up two more Skinny Lattes, complete with a heart in the foam, and brought it back to the table.

Stacey told Mary that she had suspected Gregory for a while, and had an idea that it was someone in their circle of friends.  She admitted that she had thought it was Mary because she got on so well with Gregory – Mary said that he’d made her laugh a couple of times, but he really wasn’t her type.   Damian sat and listened until he politely said “I think I need to go and help Bill.”

 

As Damian walked back to the coffee machine, the three cards he’d drawn from his Tarot deck were drawn back into his mind.  The whole story in three cards.

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