Could the world be doomed by a cup of coffee? I’ll let you be the judge.
Two of the plates were picked clean but the third plate in front of the thin man had barely been touched. Egg yoke congealed in a yellow pool next to a forlorn pair of untouched sausage links. The thin man, bent over his cold plate with unfocused eyes, looked like a young actor playing the part of an old man. A few wisps of white hair lay on his head and his skin was smooth but slack and gray. Three vials of little blue, red and pink pills, placed in a neat row, stood at attention next to a clean fork.
His two male companions had on slacks and a white, short sleeve shirt; but the thin man was dressed in jeans and a Chicago Cubs tee shirt that looked as if it had just been used to dry dishes.
They looked with unblinking expectancy at the thin man as he rocked slowly in his chair and as he pursed his pale, trembling lips. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back as if to see something just below the surface of his nearly bald scalp.
“You see,” he said, revealing eyes that were bright blue but still unfocused. “It is the sweetest problem and...lately I can just…”
“That poor man,” a woman in red, sitting on the other side of the room, whispered to a woman in blue. “Just last year he was on the cover of Time.”
“Of course!” the thin man gasped.
A little blond boy at the next table stopped playing with his spoon and looked at the thin man until a woman with hair just as fair told him not to stare.
“I thought he looked familiar,” the woman in blue whispered back.
“For two years the damn thing’s been staring me in the face,” the thin man laughed, slapping the table hard enough to make little blue, red and pink pills jump in their vials. “Just out of sight but now it’s in plain view and…it’s child’s play, so simple, why didn’t I see it before? Clean, unlimited energy and all we have to do is…”
“More coffee?” the waitress said.
The three men jumped almost as high as the little pills had. Bright, bulging eyes turned up at the woman who stood, feet splayed, holding a glass pot in her right hand.
“Why, yes,” the thin man said, looking about him like a man who has just awakened from a dream and cannot remember where he is.
“As I was saying…”
Then his face went blank and for a second it looked as if it would melt like wax.
“God in heaven,” he screamed, clutching the sides of his head.
“Where did it go!”