What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, a massive ash tree mysteriously grows overnight inside the shop. Following a miraculous weekend which saves the coffee shop, Andrew suddenly and inexplicably leaves work in the company of a mysterious and fatally attractive woman...Lara was now in full worried-den-mother-mode.
It had taken Lara several stages to get to this particular mode. It had been preceded by pissed-off-catty-mode, which she went into after Blackout had informed her that the woman Andrew had left the shop with didn’t just look like a porn star, but actually was one. This wasn’t the result of any physical or emotional attraction to Andrew; she had no interest in him beyond the fact that he had inadvertently summoned up a massive and ostensibly magical tree (and perhaps the fact that he signed her forthcoming paychecks). It had more to do with the fact that Blackout not only knew that the girl was a porn star, but that he also knew her name. This was the result of a physical and emotional attraction to Blackout—she knew most men looked at porn, but she was hoping Blackout was part of the 0.000002 percent in
This mode had escalated to full-on-bitch-mode, which she had moved into when Andrew had called her late that evening, apologizing for not returning to the store, thanking her for closing up, and then asking her if she could perhaps open tomorrow. The female giggle in the background had been the final straw.
“You’re an asshole,” Lara had said. “And I’m not opening for you, you horny dickhead.” After which she hung up. Paycheck or not, she wasn’t going to get up early to cover for Andrew just so he could bang that blonde bimbo late into the night.
She moved into might-be-taking-a-lot-of-smoke-breaks-mode when she had come in for her afternoon shift to find the shop yet unopened. This had morphed rapidly into starting-to-think-there’s-more-than-meets-the-eye-and-not-in-a-Transformers-way-mode when Ima had come up the stairs from the basement while Lara was taking off her coat in a frenzy.
“There was a source of power in the shop yesterday,” Ima said. “Dark power.”
Lara felt a little uncomfortable talking to one of the Fates somewhere other than the dark recesses of the basement. It took all the glamour out it, seeing Ima in all her middle-aged glory under fluorescent lighting.
“I’m a little busy right now,” Lara replied. “And why the hell didn’t you tell me about this yesterday?”
“We were out seeing the Wailin Jennys over at the Horowitz,” Ima replied. “We love a good all-girl band,” she added when Lara displayed a confused look.
“We noticed the trails of power on our way in after the show,” she added. “The fact that there was residue from it means that the original source was quite potent.”
“Well, I didn’t see any Ringwraiths in here,” Lara said, putting on an apron and tying her hair back. “So unless you can tell me something else about this, I don’t really know how to help you Ima. In fact, I could use your help on the floor today if you don’t mind.”
“You want us to help you work?” Ima said.
“Mostly just keeping the tables and dishes clean,” Lara replied. “And I’d only need one of you.”
Ima had called Hatima’s name, but when Lara tried to picture the dark, taciturn woman helping her with customer service, she quickly told Ima not to worry about it, she’d do fine on her own.
“Very well,” Ima said, turning to go back down the stairs. “It’s female.”
Lara wrinkled her nose and lifted one eyebrow. “Come again?”
“You wanted to know something else about the source of the dark power,” Ima told her. “Whatever it is, it’s female.”
“What do you mean, ‘it’s female?’” Lara asked. “Dark power sources have gender?”
“Of course they do!” Ima replied in a matter-of-fact tone. “Where do you think we got little baby monsters from? The stork doesn’t bring them you know!”
“So this dark power source is a monster?”
“Most of the dark power sources are,” Ima replied. “Except for the people who write tabloids. They’re a complete cosmic anomaly.”
“There weren’t any monsters…or paparazzi in the store yesterday.”
“You’re sure about that?”
“Nothing strange or untoward occurred?”
“If that means did I see any weird shit, the answer is no…well, unless you count Andrew leaving the store with a porn star on his arm.”
“Sounds pretty damn weird to me,” Ima said. “When did you last talk to Andrew? Did he come in today?”
“I talked to him last night…and he didn’t show up this morning, no.”
“You’d best give him a call,” Ima said, retreating into the basement’s darkness.
When Lara called Andrew’s cell phone and repeatedly got no answer, she moved into somewhat-concerned-for-my-boss-mode, which lasted throughout the rest of the day. By she had finally reached full worried-den-mother-mode.
She’d been able to keep her concerns at bay by immersing herself in the day’s endless tasks. It wasn’t nearly as busy as it had been on the weekend, but the flow of traffic was steady, and there was the occasional rush that really kept her jumping. When Blackout walked in shortly after though, the day’s stress all rushed in on her at once.
“I need 6 large coffees to go,” Blackout said.
Lara repeated the order, "6 large coffees to go," and then burst into tears.