Coffee Cult

Coffee Cult

by Anthony ILacqua

Gerald sat at the kitchen table, coffee cup in hand. It was mid-morning on a Saturday. Leigh sat across from him. The half read newspaper cluttered the tabletop at her place.

“Don’t join a cult,” Gerald said.

“It’s not a cult, don’t be silly,” she said.

“We’ve been married 25 years,” he said. He lifted up the coffee cup, put it to his mouth and thought twice before taking a sip. “Jesus,” he said.

“Cold coffee?” she asked.

“I don’t ask much of you, I never have, but I feel like I’ve asked you not to join a cult more than once.”

“No,” she said. “I don’t think you have.”

“Have what? Asked much of you?”

“No,” she said. “I don’t think you’ve ever asked me not to join a cult.”

“AMWAY, 1995,” he said.

“AMWAY is not a cult,” she said.

“The chef thing, 1999.”

“These ain’t cults,” Leigh said.

“AA, 2002.”

“Well, maybe AA is a bit of a cult,” she conceded. “Let me warm up your coffee.”

“You’re not even a drinker,” he said.

Leigh stood from her place and reached across the table toward the coffee cup. Gerald pulled the coffee cup away from her. “Book clubs, Jehovah Witnesses, that vitamin company,” he said. “I’ll heat up my own coffee.”

Leigh sat back down. “Poker night, the Super Bowl and March Madness,” she said.

“What do those have to do with anything?” he asked. He pulled hard of the microwave oven door, gently put his cup inside and then slammed the door. “What?” he asked.

“Cosmetics,” she said. “I said, cosmetics. These are very good products.”

“No doubt,” he said. He looked into the microwave and watched the cup rotate on the glass plate inside. When the microwave dinged at him, Gerald slowly opened the door. He reached inside, picked up the cup and slowly brought it to his mouth. “Jesus,” he said again. “If you’re going to join a cult, join a microwave cult because ours doesn’t work for shit.”

“Cold coffee?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t blasphemize over hot coffee,”

“No,” she said.

“Or even lukewarm coffee.”

“You have to have it in there for a little longer.”

“Besides, the Super Bowl is no cult,” he said.

“Pretty ritualistic, isn’t it?”

“What?” he asked.

“Good vs. evil?”

“Tupperware,” he said. “When was that? Early 1990s? It’s when they were chasing OJ.”

“Announcers like preachers telling you this and that, just can’t watch the thing itself, that seems pretty culty.”

“Sewing circles?” Gerald asked. “That was a weird one, when was that? 2001? 2002?”

“Stitch ‘n Bitch,” she said.

“Jelly of the month?” he said.

“That was not a cult.”

“As much as the Celestine Property?

“Jelly of the month was a gift, I didn’t join.”

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Vegas,” he said.

“Venus,” she said.

“Who were those diet people?”

“Who?” she asked.

“The ones who wanted you to sell pills.”

“Oh, Sherwood, I think.”

“Maybe AA wasn’t such a bad thing after all,” he said.

“I don’t drink,” she said.

“Yeah, but they got good coffee.”

“Don’t like the coffee?” she said.

“Oh, Leigh, I like it fine,” he said. He picked up the cup again and took a long swallow draining the contents. “Is there a coffee cult?” he asked.

“Just AA,” she said. “I don’t see the problem with this. It’s just cosmetics, not Scientology.”

“Same shit,” Gerald said.

“We’ve been married for 25 years,” she said.

“Yes,” he said.

“For better or for worse, thick and thin, sickness and health,” she said.

“To cherish and respect each other, and not to join cults.”

“Rotary Club?”

“Cult,” he said.

“Kiwanis?” she asked.

“Salt cult.”

“Elks?”

“Jesus, Leigh, they’re the worse ones. Listen, sell cosmetics, go, okay, you have my blessings.”

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “You’ve already made up your mind. I don’t care anymore.”

“Yes, you do,” she said.

“This is a circular argument. There won’t be a winner. So I’m conceding.”

“Gerald!” she shouted.

“I’m going out,” he said. He stood from the table.

“What? Really? Where?”

“Anywhere,” he said.

“What?”

“I don’t know. McDonalds, Starbucks, AA meeting, fucking Disneyland, anywhere to get a hot cup of coffee.”

“Oh,” she said. She hurried and tidied the papers on the table. “Can I come along?”

“It’s probably not a good idea,” he said.

“We’ve been married 25 years. We can certainly share a cup of coffee,” she said.

Gerald neared her. He looked at her, she looked at him. “I love you. I do. Do you believe me?” he asked with a sudden graveness.

“Yes,” she whispered. “I know you love me.”

“I love you very much all the time and even right now,” he said. “Do you believe me?”

“Yes,” she said again.

“And I will love you even more than that, do you know that, Leigh?” he said.

“No,” she said.

“If I can just have a moment, or a few moments to drink a peaceful cup of coffee,” he began. He stood still. His eyes snapped forward like someone who has just remembered something.

“Yes?” she said. “If you can get a cup of coffee in peace…”

“Oh,” he said. “Yeah. Let me get some coffee before we continue this conversation.”

“More cult talk?” she said.

“A peaceful cup of coffee,” he said.

“Circular arguments?”

“You think March Madness is a cult?” he asked.

“I just want to sell cosmetics, Gerald.”

“Oh Jesus,” he said. “All I want is a cup of coffee. Just a cup of coffee.”

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Anthony ILacqua
Anthony ILacqua’s third novel Warehouses and Rusted Angels is forthcoming in 2017. His former novels, Dysphoric Notions (2012) and Undertakers of Rain (2013) are both published through Ring of Fire Publishing. He currently functions as editor in chief for Umbrella Factory Magazine that he co-founded in 2009. Meet Anthony at his blog: anthonyilacqua.blogspot.com

5 thoughts on “Coffee Cult

  1. The dialogue felt authentic and gave a sense of the long, compatible, friendly relationship these two have had. Poignant, humorous and pleasing to read.

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