The Soupster tries to peddle a fishy additive for coffee
The Soupster made sure his tray table was stowed and his seatback in the upright and locked position. Though he recognized several people on the flight, he tried not to meet their eyes. When the plane landed, he hoped to slip away from the airport and back to his house with as little notice as possible. He was a mauled-up animal looking to get back to his lair ASAP to lick his wounds.
The peppy flight attendant with the red scarf came down the aisle holding a white plastic bag into which the Soupster dutifully deposited his trash. Otherwise, he kept his eyes and his hands to himself. He waited for the plane’s wheels to touch the ground.
They did — with a screech and an extra gravity or two pressing on the Soupster’s chest. He felt his usual combination of relief to be home, admiration for the pilot’s skill and wondering if Our Town needed a longer runway.
He joined the line of people prying enormous roll-ons out of the overhead bins and wheeling them out. A deplaned Soupster noticed that “Grounds for Departure” was open and he sidled over there for an espresso.
“Give me a tall latte with two shots and a fin,” he told the barista, whom he did not recognize.
“You must be from here,” she laughed, as she mixed his drink. “This is my third espresso job in three states and this is the only place where people ask for salmon oil in their coffee.” She placed a steaming cup before the Soupster.
He sipped the familiar concoction. “Good,” he murmured. She had gotten the dollop — or “fin” — of salmon oil just right.
“You guys must be crazy,” said the barista. “Salmon oil? In coffee?”
And there was the rub (not salmon rub). For the better part of the previous two weeks, the Soupster had piloted a rental car over hundreds of miles of the Lower United States, trying to introduce his “Authentic Salmon Oil Coffee Sauce” to the owners of scores of coffeehouses and drive-ups. Nobody had been in the least interested. One busy barrista had asked him to leave the premises.
The Soupster carried his drink outside the airport and got into a waiting cab. “Coffee smells good,” said the driver, whose ID said “Simon.”
“It is,” said the Soupster.
“Latte with a fin, right?” Simon said.
“It is,” marveled the Soupster.
“A fin is so good… I wonder why they don’t give you a fin Down South ever,” Simon said. The driver’s words were soothing and poignant music and the Soupster wandered in his own thoughts. “They don’t know what they’re missing,” Simon said, as the cab slowed in front of the Soupster’s house.
“Bet the baristas all over town are busy,” said Simon. “We had a tsunami warning at midnight last night and we were all up evacuating until the all-clear at 2 a.m. Everybody’s been groggy all morning – they’re definitely all going to need a pick-me-up!”
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