Tales from the Café: Amazing the Things You Find

Time: Tuesday, 9:16 pm

It was almost time to leave. All of the customers were already gone–a small miracle, given that there was a strong tendency to hang around well past closing time–so we were getting a little extra cleaning done in our “free time.” I was over cleaning the wood portion of our floors, so I could only hear murmurs from the crew cleaning our couch chairs on the other side of the café.

I didn’t envy them their job. Those chairs had to be a disaster. Who knew when the last time they’d been cleaned was?

“How’s it going?” I heard Zöe ask from behind me.

I turned toward her and gave a small smile. “Probably better than anyone over there.” I waved toward the other side of the café. “Can you imagine what those couches are like?”

“I was over there for a while. I don’t think I want to know what else is in there, other than way more crumbs than are okay.” She shook her head and I laughed. “No seriously, Hunter. It’s disgusting.”

“Oh, I believe you.” I leaned on the handle of the cleaning broom-pad. “There’s a reason I offered to do the wood.”

“Oh my god, Zöe, Hunter, you have to come see this. What the heck.” I could hear Raine’s unimpressed voice call to us.

“Well, looks like my evasion tactic needs work,” I said with a wry grin, which made Zöe laugh, and we walked over to Raine and Alex, who were looking at a small pile on a napkin on top of a nearby table. “What’s going on?”

“What is even happening.” Raine gestured to the napkin. “Some of this makes sense. But…”

I looked at the assortment. A black plastic comb, like the ones they gave us on school picture day. A length of brown string. A pearlescent button. A grimy Bic pen. And a small blue pill. “The pill is an interesting addition.”

“Who loses a whole comb in a chair?” Alex replied, and I chuckled. “Really.”

“I’ll agree with that one.” I peered at the pile again. “I wonder where the button came from.”

“I wonder how long it took someone to notice it was gone,” Alex added.

“I don’t want to know anything, ughhhh,” Raine whined, waving her hands. “Why couldn’t I have done the wood, Hunter.”

“Because I spoke up faster than you,” I replied with a wink. “But here, I’ll get rid of it for you.” I picked up the corners of the napkin and folded it into a neat (well, neat-ish; the comb was a weird shape) package.



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