I occasionally free write fiction when I have the urge to write but also have a mental/creative block that prevents me from getting any further on my current projects.
Below is a free write that began as a random character pair up of a strong man/enforcer and a college student/barista in a place where their worlds might intersect. I actually wrote a bit more than this but I’m only sharing this opening scene because I’m super proud of how fluid it turned out for a free write/first draft.
BEGIN FREE WRITE
At the cafe, the scent of fresh coffee and sweet cream permeated the cozy atmosphere of gentle chatter and cool clinking of metal flatware on porcelain plates. The male cashier whose name tag read “Rain” wiped the counter with a white rag during a quiet moment when the front door chimed.
“Welcome in!” he called out instantly.
The chatter hushed as a menacing new arrival circumvented the dining area and walked up to the counter.
Rain dropped the rag in a red bucket of blue sanitizing solution on the shelf beneath the register, and straightened. He smiled at the new customer. “Good morning, sir, what can I—you.”
The new arrival was lean, sinister in a nondescript sort of way, and wearing a suit straight out of a fashion magazine. Dark hair was combed back, peppered at the temples; a permanent scowl creased his brows, despite him not actually being that old. His presence gave the impression that he came to give pain rather than purchase breakfast.
“Do you have what I came for?” sneered the man.
Dining the nearest table, an older man overheard and paused mid-bite.
Rain threw a brown bag on the counter without breaking eye contact. “The usual stuff costs the usual amount.”
“That’s a relief,” growled the man, digging in his right pant pocket.
“Why? You brought exact change?”
The man slid neatly folded bills and coins across the clean counter. “Damn right.”
“I love that we can act like we’re characters in an action movie but I’m really just selling you the same blueberry muffin you always get.” He winked. “There’s some extra stuff in there. Enjoy.”
“Wow.” The man snorted as he peeked into the bag with amusement. “Is it my birthday?”
“Shut up and eat your danish.”
“YOU GAVE ME A DANISH?!!!!” Gasping wildly, the man hugged the bag and scrambled to his favorite table in the farthest corner of the dining room.
Rain grinned and shook his head. He checked his watch. Breakfast rush had ended. He looked back toward his barista partner scribbling on a ticket in the kitchen entrance. “Hey, Pete?”
Pete looked up through his glasses.
Seating with his back to the corner and a view of the whole restaurant, the man took a bite out of the huge danish. Strawberry and cream cheese. “Mmmm, I really don’t need to be eating this.”
The phone in his coat pocket vibrated.
He answered. “Yes, sir.”
“I apologize for calling on your day off, Mattia,” said the raspy male voice on the other end. “I of all people know you’ve earned your free time.”
“What can I do for you, sir?”
“I wanted to thank you personally for the work you’ve done for my son over the last few months. It wasn’t easy work. Even for seasoned professionals like yourself.” He chuckled tensely. “I have no doubt that my son made more enemies over this. Not only for himself, but I’m afraid for you as well. You’re a valuable member of my personnel, it would be a tragedy to lose you. Please, be watchful.”
Mattia saw the barista coming around the counter, a tall paper cup off coffee in hand. With a polite “have a nice day” to two smiling women who were heading toward the exit, the barista looked across to Mattia but paused when he realized he was on the phone.
Mattia needed to end the conversation. “Thank you for your concern, sir.” Waving Rain over, he said goodbye and hung up the phone.
Rain jogged over and took the seat opposite him, with his back to the dining room and the rest of the restaurant.
Mattia buried the phone back in his coat pocket. “You’re too polite.”
“Thank you,” said Rain, getting comfortable. “It was lonely without you, man.”
“I wasn’t gone that long.”
“You went from coming in every morning at the same time, ordering the same thing, for a year and then to being gone for three months.” Elbows on the table, Rain held up the last three fingers of his left hand for emphasis. “Three, dude. You even said ‘See you tomorrow’ the last time I saw you.”
Mattia took a bite of danish, eyeballing him. “Were you worried about me?”
“Yes!” said Rain, trying to maintain an angry expression on his naturally friendly face. “I go to college, work, home where I study for school and get ready for work, and then back to college–.”
“What’s your point?”
Rain pointed at him. “And talking to you is my only non-college, non-work human interaction.”
“I’m not non-work. This is me at your work right now. You need more coffee, your brain isn’t working.”
“We might be here.” Rain sat back and picked up his cup. “But we don’t talk about work.” He lifted to drink. ”You don’t even drink coffee.”
“Because tea’s better.”
Rain faked a gag.
“Once you’ve had good tea, you’ll understand.”
Rain looked back over his shoulder at the menu board.
“Not from here. Well, no, I take that back. The tea here is passable, but not what I mean. I mean seriously good tea.”
Sitting twisted, Rain continued to mull over the distant menu board.
Mattia wadded up his receipt and bounced it off the back of the barista’s head. “I said not from here.”
“Well if I can’t find it here or on campus then…” Turning back, Rain spread his hands in mocked hopelessness.
“You shut up and drink your coffee-flavored sugar water.”
“Puh.” Rain sipped. “I take it black now.”
Mattia chewed on another bite. “Since when?”
The barista considered the tall paper cup. “It’s not that bad, actually.”
“Then there’s hope for you yet.”
“You mean about switching to tea?” Rain fake gagged again. “But seriously, man, is everything good with you? Are you okay? I don’t wanna pry but…”
Mattia studied the slim barista who wasn’t old enough to have permanent laugh lines on his face. Little people with their adorable little worries. “Yes, Rain.” When Rain’s expression didn’t change, he cleared his throat and thought up a vague and mildly accurate answer. “I was gone for work. In fact, I was called out of town by my boss’ boss. You don’t say no to the boss’ boss.”
Rain’s face cracked into a smile. “Alright, cool.” He set down his cup. “Hey, when you say that tea is way better than coffee, does that mean once I’ve had really good tea then my reality will change and I’ll never see coffee the same way again?”
“No going back.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”
“Don’t be a wuss.”
Rain sneered in good humor. “No more free danishes for you.”
“It’s not my fault the truth doesn’t sit well with you.”
Rain talked with Mattia for his entire 30 minute break, carrying on in this way with jokes and stories about travel, places where Mattia had been and Rain wanted to go; until Rain’s wrist watch buzzed.
He looked down at it. “Dang.”
“Times up.” Mattia stuffed their trash in the brown bag and crushed it. “Back to livin’ the dream.”
Rain made a disgusted face. “Guuhhh.”
Rising, Mattia slapped his face lightly. “Courage, man. You’re valiantly working your way through college.”
“Guuhhh.” Rain followed him to the counter in view of the glass door of the side exit. “Hey, you comin’ tomorrow?”
“I promise,” said Mattia. “I’ll bring backgammon.”
He’ll never win. Mattia waited until the barista he resumed his post behind the counter with a glance toward the glass side door, to check his pockets for keys, wallet and phone.
END FREE WRITE
No, I don’t plan on posting the rest of what I have and, no, there isn’t any plant to finish the story any time soon, if at all. Hooray for free writes.
It’ll be a trap for myself later on, though. One day I’ll sort through and read old stories and things and find this one, starting reading it, like where it’s going, and then it’ll just end and I’ll curse my past self for doing that to me because I’ll wanna know what happens.
Actually, I already do that to myself a lot.