Vasant 2019, Short Stories -Craig Rolando Meyer


Hot Java

By Craig Rolando Meyer


Dear Charlotte

I can only imagine your chagrin at finding this letter at the bottom of the jar of necessarily expensive premium Columbian coffee you prize so highly. Perhaps you have involuntarily raised your right eyebrow, as you always do when you are exceptionally irritated. It was not often during our relationship that I had a chance to deliberately chafe you, but I feel I now have earned this singular pleasure. For the sake of expediency, I have diluted what I have to say into four salient facts. Please bear with me, as you know I do tend to meander on occasion.

Fact 1.

The day we met at Peter Walton’s 32nd birthday party I will always remember as a watershed moment in my life. I can still see you standing there, alone and rather awkward. You had an air of aloofness and vulnerability about you which made you utterly irresistible.


Well, to me, anyway.


Your jet-black hair gave you a touch of the exotic, with the hidden promise of a possible, scintillating, delayed seduction.

And I knew I was lost.


Utterly, completely, hopelessly and quite divinely lost.


I remember walking over to you, casually introducing myself, and making the idlest of conversations. As you intimated on several occasions, I am not a bold man by nature, but so mesmerised was I that I was fully prepared to suffer the whip of your rejection. To my utter and delirious consternation, you not only responded, but seemed to be as interested in me as I certainly was in you. I quickly ascertained that you were alone at the party, here only because it was requested of you by a work colleague. I determined selfishly that you were in dire need of rescuing from the false greetings and inane and uncomfortably lengthy banter that make up these social gatherings.


I learnt that you were, like me, involved in the financial sector, albeit in a junior position, and that you lived quite close to where I worked. To say that I felt we were instantly compatible would have been an underestimation of magnificent proportions. You were completely absorbing, and utterly delightful, and those were your bad qualities.


It took me a full seven minutes to decide that you were the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and then only because six of those were taken up getting drinks for us and pretending to the rank and file that I was pleased to see them. What sealed it completely as far as I was concerned, was, of course, our mutual love of the liquid black gold, coffee.


I had searched far and wide for someone to share my particular fascination with this percolated gift from the gods. Some women pretended, some were nauseated, some just treated my complete obsession with coffee as a mild amusement, something to be tolerated. I dispatched those unbelievers with monotonous regularity and with the absolute contempt they so thoroughly deserved. But not you, Charlotte. You felt what I felt, experienced what I savoured as that happiest of dark liquids to touch one’s lips and slowly suffuse the brain with a profound sense of happiness and exhilaration. You knew and understood the euphoria induced by it, and I knew we were destined for each other.

Fact 2.

Our marriage was quiet and serene, the mocha java wedding cake the perfect icing on a wonderful future. I remember so clearly you walking into the church on our wedding day, looking almost dream-like, exquisite in every way. I honestly cannot recall ever being happier.


In my Columbian coffee-brown tuxedo I received you as my bride, and your Americano calico dress perfectly matched my outfit. I paused, attempting to absorb the moment, and briefly contemplated that this was the beginning of my new life, one which held nothing but promise.


I was right in one sense. It was the beginning.


The beginning of my emasculation.


A mere three months into our marriage, a change occurred.


A cold, calculated descent into the depths of snide remarks, the coldest of shoulders, and the degrading of my heart into a thing of abject ridicule. A sense of confusion overwhelmed me, and in the beginning I blamed myself for not being the husband I had promised to be. As your behaviour worsened however, I really struggled to understand, in retrospect, why you had married me. There must have been a desire within you to control, and I was mercilessly sacrificed on the altar of that need.


I rapidly learned that sex could be used as a weapon, and you wielded it like a barbed sceptre, until the very act was one I did not relish, and actively abhorred. You seemed to take casual, hidden pleasures in humiliating me in front of family and friends with acidic repartee and caustic remarks aimed directly at my heart. And they struck home every time. We still enjoyed our coffee though, a redeeming light in an otherwise ghost-like sham of a marriage.


And, despite it all, I still loved you.

Fact 3.

I could have withstood everything you meted out to me, but finding you in bed with one of my best friends completed the humiliation. If I remember correctly (it’s impossible to forget) this was on the night I achieved the highest honour from my peers at the annual Investment Financiers Banquet. You told me you were ill, and I went alone. I remember standing on the stage, clutching the trophy, and wishing you were there to share in my success.


Coming home from a standing ovation, I stood at our bedroom door, aching inside with desperate sadness. I felt as if you had driven an icicle coated in acid through my heart. You had conspired to turn the night of my greatest career achievement, for me with trophy in hand, into one of unimaginable despair.


If you remember (and you probably don’t), I left immediately without uttering a word.


A searing, toxic cocktail of grief and silent rage strangled me as effectively as any garrotte would as I closed the door to our home and life behind me.


Over the following months, I drowned myself in work, trying not to think of you, yet wanting to at the same time.


I dreaded not seeing you, I dreaded seeing you, fearing some untold hurt, but what you finally delivered was infinitely worse. You might recall that I contacted you one evening in a moment of irrational weakness. You dismissed me with such contempt, revealing that you had planned everything from the beginning, and that you only married me for money and the glimmer of status it afforded you.


You said if I wanted a divorce, I would pay for it dearly. I had never imagined that so much pain could be visited upon my heart, and the agony I endured drove me to the very edge of madness on several occasions. I must tell you in all honesty, I contemplated suicide several times, but I quickly realised if I succumbed to those thoughts, your victory over me would have been complete.

Fact 4.

Over the course of those long, bitter nights, I had been researching our favourite topic, coffee, as usual, when I came across an utterly fascinating titbit. I discovered that certain indigenous tribes from northern Peru had often used coffee beans in their religious ceremonies.

According to several unknown experts on Youtube, it was used as a masking agent for foul-smelling narcotics to calm down slaves who were going to be sacrificed to their gods. Honestly, the things you find on the internet. I can personally attest that there is nothing more distracting than an unwilling participant in a religious ceremony.


Not long after, I took the liberty of acquiring some really nasty cockroach poison to rid us of those disgusting pests we had been having trouble with over the past few months. I calculated that minute amounts of the cockroach poison mixed with, say, premium Columbian coffee, would have the effect of building up slowly in the nervous system undetected. The irony is that there are no physical side-effects until a cumulative tipping point is reached.


Quite astonishingly, the combined effect of the premium coffee and the poison is similar to suffering a heart attack while being strangled very slowly and very, very painfully. (Because of time constraints, I can’t let you in on how that little gem of information came to light).


As you are uncomfortably discovering, I am as patient in the preparation of a superb cup of coffee as I am in exacting retribution. According to my calculations (and you know what a bean counter I am), you should die of asphyxiation and your body racked by excruciating pain before you make it to the landline in the lounge. (I had the line disconnected this morning, just to remove all doubt). Your cell phone service was also discontinued late last night after you insisted that I continue paying for it.


You once said, at the height of your malice towards me, that if I wanted a clean break from our marriage with no strings attached, I would have to prise it from your cold, dead hands.


That nugget of succulent irony will never be lost on me.


In conclusion, please make an effort and try not to knock over the Elektra Belle Epoque coffee maker in the kitchen.


Those things cost an arm and a leg.


Bon voyage,
PS. I’ll pop over later to clean up the mess.




Craig Meyer lives with his wife, children and two cats in Cape Town, South Africa. Hot Java is the start his first short story compilation. A serial procrastinator, he intends publishing his next compilation sometime soon. Maybe The cats are not his idea.


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