She makes coffee for horny men. The sign above the service window is a noble gas twisted in glass and electrified, reading
Hot Stuff Here
in curlicues. She wears tassels and a thong. Her hair looks good, like she eats really well or takes special vitamins, though neither is true.
There is a scald mark on her thigh from steaming milk. There is a draft under the door. There is no toilet.
She licks whipped cream from between a coworker’s breasts to encourage generosity. The pay is abysmal. The tip money is good. She doesn't think she’s damaged enough to work here and says so to all her friends. She has no plans to leave.
The woman on the next block has a sign with movable plastic letters, reading
and wears heavy sweaters even in summer. “Let’s put her out of business,” says our heroine each morning, as though the territorial battles of roadside coffee stands serving too-sweet mochas outside Seattle were her personal civil war, and she a general in hotpants and lipstick.
She pees at the gas station around the corner. She buys gum for the privilege. She slips sticks of it to her favorite customers, the ones who don’t request change on tens and twenties. “Let’s stick together,” she says in a Mae West voice she borrows from old movies. The men peel out of the parking lot in their sensible cars, spilling coffee, trying to impress her. She pretends it works.
Jacquelyn Bengfort used to drive warships for a living and was actually pretty good at it. Now she’s a writer in Washington, DC, and doing just ok. Her work appears in or is forthcoming from Tirage Monthly, Storm Cellar, District Lines, Postcard Shorts, and Labyrinth. There’s more at www.JaciB.com.