The sun made the winter months easier. Clear glass windows took up most of the walls of Golden Brew, the local cafe. Mark felt close to dozing off in the afternoon sun, waking up just as customers walked up to the counter.
He’d only seen a few regulars come in today on his shift and a total of 14 customers. Not that there was anyone in the shop right now, it was empty except for Mark. Today there’d been more tourists than locals, evident from his people-watching habit. Maybe it was a mall day for locals, even though Golden Brew was probably the closest cafe anyway.
Hell, not even Felix had dropped in today, which was slightly concerning to Mark. His Swedish friend who owned the cafe always came in to check on the establishment at least once a day. Maybe he’d gotten distracted today, or gone on an impromptu road trip with his fiance Marzia. He wouldn't admit it, but Mark was a little jealous of how long those two had been together.
Though, Mark had more concerns about staying close to work than love. He cringed at the idea of him messing up someone's order because his mind was stuck on one person. A small laugh escaped his lips at the imaginary scenario.
A melodic bell rang out, breaking Mark's thoughts up. Ah, a customer. Mark took a moment to look at the green-haired boy who had walked in the door. That was the most eyecatching thing about him, a lot of bright green locks on top of his head. Not that Mark didn't have a similar effect with his bright red hair, it was just far more electric in such a mundane setting.
He walked up to the counter and Mark grabbed a notepad to write down the boys order.
“Hi, welcome to Golden Brew, what can I get you today?” Mark smiled brightly.
“A mocha with 3 shots of espresso,” He said.
“Sure, can I get your name?”
The boy looked surprised for a second, and Mark swore he could see a tint of red on his ears. “Um, Jack.”
“Right, I’ll get on it now for you!”
“Oh, um, if it’s not too weird, could you not announce it as a mocha? Like maybe say a long black… I don’t really want people knowing it’s um… yeah.”
Mark was a little confused, but smiled at Jack and nodded. Anything to make the customer more comfortable.
Jack took a seat at the table in the corner as he tapped his fingers to a tune. Mark listened along and started humming while working. A small smile flashed on Jack's face before he opened up a laptop.
“So, uh, you must be Mark?” Jack asked out of the blue.
“Oh? Well, yeah, that’s me. How’d you know?” Mark lifted his eyebrows and leaned on the bench. The mocha was far from done, and a little chatter would be comforting considering the lack of people today. Jack pointed at the nametag on Mark’s apron and rolled his eyes.
“I went in to get a tattoo today,” he lifted his arm to show a freshly covered tattoo on his pale arm that seemed to be a rune of sorts. “And the tattooist, uh Tyler, I think, recommended Golden Brew for a drink.”
Before Jack rolled up his sleeve again, Mark spotted a seemingly older tattoo on Jack's wrist of a semi-colon. He tilted his head and smiled, then put some milk in the steamer.
“So what does it mean? The one you got today?”
“Uh, you’re gonna laugh… It’s um, an easter egg from the video game Bloodborne.”
“Oh! Yeah, I’ve played that. Damn, you must have really looked hard for that one, I don’t remember it at all.”
Jack seemed flattered by that and let out a small laugh.
The whistle blew for the steamed milk. Mark turned around to grab a mug, stopping by the shelves to swirl some chocolate syrup into the bottom. The crunch of the coffee beans was music to his ears as he used the grinder and then placed it into the espresso machine. He placed the cup below the tube before pressing out 3 shots of espresso, then placed the cup on the tea towel that covered the counter. Mark carefully spun a spoon around the cup to combine the chocolate and espresso, then slowly added the steamed milk to make a few swirls in the top.
Mark placed the mocha on the counter and then dusted the top with a bit of chocolate.
“Long black for Jack!” He said, dusting off his apron and leaning his elbow on the counter. His eyes locked onto the green hair standing up to grab his coffee, almost too energetically. Jack inhaled the wisp of the mocha and smiled as he let out a sigh.
“You said Tyler recommended you this place?” Mark started up a conversation again as Jack sat on a stool at the counter. Jack just nodded as he sipped his drink.
“Said you make the best coffee in town,” he paused as he took another sip. “He also said you own this place, then took it back.”
“Yeah, no, I don't own this place, that’d be-” Mark was slightly disappointed Jack didn't say whether or not Tyler was right but was interrupted by his boss, Felix walking into the cafe.
“Mark, bro, how’s it going today!” Felix slid over the countertop to the kitchen and gave Mark a pat on the back.
“As I was saying, Felix is the owner,” Mark sighed with a smile and shrugged. “Tyler gives me more credit than I deserve.”
“Hey there Fischbach, no shit-talking yourself on the job,” Felix ruffled Mark's red crown as they both laughed. Jack smiled at the antics of the two, taking another sip of the mocha that was definitely beyond what he expected.
“How long have you guys been here?” Jack said. Mark started to count on his fingers.
“9 years, I’m pretty sure,” Felix said, putting his hands on his hips. He took a glance around the room, filled with oak chairs and tables, warm lights, and vines trailing down the walls. It was a cozy place, adorned by the buzz of a radio lacking CDs and the cars on the road outside. “Longer than a lot of other shops in town.”
Felix had retreated to the back of the store before Jack decided it was time to leave. Nate probably didn’t want him late again for a closing shift.
“I need to go but, um, thank you,” he said, gabbing out some coins from his wallet. he waited, expecting Mark to hold out his hand for the coins.
“Uh…” Mark scratched the back of his neck, making Jack place the coins on the countertop instead.
Jack made it to the exit door, before hearing a cough from the counter.
“You’re always welcome back here, Jack,” Mark smiled, the golden rays of the sun highlighting his tan skin. Jack smiled back, turning to leave the cafe for the day.