In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Overheard.”
It was just another winter evening. I was walking past the 20th street, on my way home after a long tiring day at work. I hadn’t taken my usual route in search of a shortcut. I remember I wanted a warm cup of coffee badly. I crossed the street in search of a cafe, passing a couple of blocks but no cafe or diners in the place. Then I saw this dingy old shop window. I walked ahead to get closer and I saw a sign hanging “Burt’s Cafe”. I looked out across the street – it was quiet- and glanced back at the coffee shop. Took a breath and decided to go in. This shop sure looked like it belonged to a Burt.
The furnishing was minimal, wooden tables and chair lined next to the dark shop window, counter for placing an order in a shadowed corner. At this time you see, all I was thinking was coffee and that this place needs some light. The yellow lights above and the window hardly did the work of illuminating this place up.
The weirdest thing was this place was deserted! No one was there. I called for someone but did get no reply. I even thought of getting out, but there didn’t seem to be a coffee shop nearby. The vibe of the place was a bit of concern, I chalked it up to my anxiety and overthinking nature.
I walked towards the counter in search of someone. There was no one in the shadows either; I called out again hello, anyone here? No reply. There was a door in the corner, I took a tentative step forward, thinking – that this was silly if not stupid. I was about to turn the doorknob and call out for the staff, and I heard:
“We have to kill him,” said a man.
“No! Are you crazy?!” said a woman.
“No, look we have to get rid of him, okay?!” he answered irritated.
She persisted on, sounding sick by the thought of it “This is disgusting!”
“Look, if you are not up to it, let me finish this now,” he said.
“No wait, just let him go, it’s no big deal!” she pleaded with him.
He didn’t seem to care one bit and said “Big Deal?! This is my shop! He’s going to get out and bring back his filthy friends here!”
I thought to myself, this place is doing filthy, fine on its own.
“No he won’t, let him go please.” said the lady.
The man sighed out loud and said: “Look, this is not good for my coffee shop, I am struggling as is, and you don’t want that do you?”
“No” she mumbled.
“Okay, then go out, I’ll be done here in a minute”
In a minute?! My god, this guy is an assassin! I thought. This conversation, this place! What have I got myself into?
These people – one of whom seemed to be Burt – were killing someone. Oh God! This is surely not my day, I have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t want to be in the midst of murder or be killed!
I was freaking out, all horrible possibilities running through my numb mind. All I could do was stand frozen right outside the door. And behind this door, these murderers were carrying out their business. Damn!
Then it happened, I heard the turning of the knob. I turned around, but I wasn’t quick enough. Damn! She caught me standing there eavesdropping!
“Hey, what are you doing here?” said the woman. She didn’t look like she could kill a fly. Almost looked angelic enough to deceive, maybe even the cops?
I choked on my words “I … I was…”
“Oh, you were here for coffee, right? Sorry, I was here in the stock room. Come I’ll fix your coffee for you” she said seemingly calm and unaffected.
Murderers my mind screamed. Wow, this is not their first time killing someone, I thought. I was trying to stay as calm as possible to get out of here in one piece. First thing I do will be to call the cops. For now, I let her lead the way. I looked back and the stock room door was shut.
She walked to the counter and was already making the coffee. “You must have been waiting for a long time right, just got caught up with something. Here’s your coffee” she smiled as she handed me the mug.
Run! Run! Now, you idiot! My coward brain screamed.
I gave a polite smile or at least tried my best to. “How much will that be?” I asked.
“Oh just…” and then she screamed. She was staring past my shoulder, scared to the bone.
I felt my heart beat faster than ever; I looked behind, mostly out of curiosity than bravado.
I felt sick.
The killer was holding his kill.
“See, it’s done now,” he said.
“Burt!” the lady screeched.
He just grinned at us. A rat in his hands.
“She’s mighty scared of rats!”
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