Ex Occidente Lux: Part One

Paul Fahrenheidt

Paul Fahrenheidt

Many a man thought himself wise, but what he wanted he did not know.

Houston, TX

Saturday, April 3rd, 1976

1034 Hours (CST)

An all-black 1970 Buick Electra pulled into the parking lot of Youngman’s Coffee Shop, like it had for three weeks past. It parked in the same parking space, three away from the street which divorced the shop from the parking lot, and out stepped the same man who drove it for those past three weeks. 

He was tall, even for a Yank, with sandy blond hair and two electric blue eyes contained by gold-rimmed aviators. A beat-leather bomber jacket sat atop a blue and red flannel shirt, paired with faded denim jeans all resting atop worn leathery skin like a sheet of snow further north. A cream-colored cowboy hat completed the ensemble, and if you were a visitor to the city you’d be fooled into thinking he was a local.

If you, the metaphorical visitor, were privy to more than your fair share of information, you’d also know that today was different from the past three weeks this Cowboy had driven into the parking lot of this particular coffee shop. Why, you may ask? Well this Cowboy had, in the left hand pocket of his bomber jacket, a folded-up sheet of paper. One that had been absent for the past three weeks.

As the distance closed between him and the door to Youngman’s, a man in a fine gray suit looked up from his newspaper. Sat at one of the tables in front of Youngman’s, he had long finished his coffee, evident from the fly investigating the contents of his mug. In his hands was a copy of The Daily Worker, probably to deter strangers from speaking to him. The Cowboy approached him without hesitation.

“Aren’t you gonna get your coffee?” The man in the suit said, folding his newspaper and placing it on the table. The Cowboy shook his head.

“Naw, I don’t reckon I’ll be patronizing this establishment ever again.” He said as he sat in the seat opposite the man in the suit. Unlike the cowboy, the Suit’s hair was jet black, and wide-rimmed glasses partially enlarged his light brown eyes.

“Sad to hear. It’s a shit hole but Clyde can make a damn good cup of coffee. Not as good as Panama though.” The Suit said, looking away from the Cowboy and up at the clouds.

“Got the goods?” The Cowboy asked, removing his hat.

“Business. Business. Always business. Do you Yanks ever stop to think about anything else?” The suit said affecting displeasure.

“Last I checked, this ain’t a social call, and we ain’t friends. Do you got the goods?” The Cowboy asked, impatience creeping into his tone. The Suit sighed, and tapped a black leather suitcase with his black leather shoe.

“Everything we agreed on. Plus a tip for professionalism, if not stellar customer service.” The Suit said, motioning a smile. “Tell your employer we’ll be in touch. Dankeschön.” He muttered as he passed the suitcase to the Cowboy, who took it without any further comment. Standing abruptly, the Cowboy tipped his hat and began his quick pace back to the Buick. The Suit’s smile stuck for a second, then evaporated when he realized he’d paid for nothing.

“Where’s your end?!?” He yelled into the parking lot.

“Coffee cup.” The Cowboy yelled back, before starting up the V8 and speeding out the parking lot, drowning out any further comment. The Suit checked the Coffee cup, and indeed a folded piece of paper was sticking out from beneath it. The dexterity of these contractors never ceased to amaze him, and a chuckle rose from his throat. Nonchalantly grabbing the paper between his index and middle fingers, he placed it in his own right-hand suit pocket before rising to pay for his coffee.