Fear and Loathing in Orlando:
A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Barista’s Dream
We were somewhere outside of Orlando when the caffeine withdrawals began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded. Let’s pull over and check the beans.” And suddenly I began to shake. No sympathy for the devil.
Was it really my fault that my Barista and I ended up like this? Who would have known the antidote for whatever God-forsaken plague hit us was coffee?
“I can only drive with beans, Strangebrew…what do we have left?” My Barista asked. Christ, man…keep calm. I turned the radio on as I began to pull over next to an abandoned warehouse.
Reports are coming in that the terrorist threat is now in total control of the world’s coffee bean surplus. President—
I had to turn it off. Too depressing. Six more hours to Miami. Six tough hours. In search of a dream, and greener pastures. Where the beans could be plucked from trees with your bare hands. In this foul year of our Lord, 2014, it was the only chance we had.
We would arrive twisted, bent, reeling from the beans and other party favors in the trunk. We even had a can of Folgers…and I knew we would get into that nasty shit soon. There is nothing more helpless and depraved than a man in the depths of a Folgers binge. The brain refuses commands, the spine recoils in horror. You start behaving like the town drunkard in some old Irish novel. Again, no sympathy for the devil.
I brought the Mustang to a slow stop just off the shoulder of the highway. The warehouse loomed to the east, eclipsing the moon. I kept the car running, just in case any bean-heads were around.
“Keep a lookout, okay? I’ll check the supplies,” I said, gathering a bag and a flashlight.
“I can’t see shit in the dark. You know that. Besides, I’ve got a bad heart. Its—”
“I’ve got the medicine. Hold on you Polynesian behemoth. Dr. Strangebrew has you covered.”
The trunk of the car looked like a mobile coffee shop for college kids. We had two bags of Starbucks, a bottle of rum, three bags of Alabama Kush, and, more importantly, espresso roast. God bless eBay. It wasn’t like we needed all that coffee, but once you become a connoisseur, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
The grinder…where the hell’s the grinder?
“Hey! You got the grinder, man?”
“You had it last time.”
Pig-fucker, pig-fucker! Damn it all to hell. Would St. Peter forgive my Barista his transgressions when he arrived? If there was a God, I would hope not.
“No worries. I’ll just chew the fuckers.” Wait…did I just say that out-loud? Or did I think it?
“Hey! They’re coming!”
Oh, what fresh hell was this? God, if you’re up there…you’ve got me to answer to for this.
If I make it out of this shit-hole.
“Yeah, yeah, man. No fault of mine,” I said, grabbing the espresso.
Even in the dark, I could see their yellow eyes staring in the distance. But at what?
I closed the trunk, and instantly regretted it.
Their eyes found us.
“Shit!” I said. Teeth clenched hard enough to break my cigarette holder.
My Barista started to scream. Fuck, man! You’ve got a bad heart. Oh, Lord, don’t blame this fowl mess on me. Blame Nixon. No…blame Bush. Give me the former any day of the week.
Shaking, I placed the bag of espresso beans in my pocket. I fumbled and dropped the keys.
“Hurry the fuck up!”
Don’t look up. Act natural. Pick up the keys and open the trunk.
“Ha! Yeah, they’ll love this shit.” Grabbing the can of Folgers, I opened it, digging in with sweaty fingers. Hell, even touching the grounds felt bad. I took a handful.
“Hey! Yeah! Bean-heads! Over here!” I yelled, drawing them away just enough…
“That’s right,” I said, throwing the grounds at them, putting the scent in the air. In the darkness, I could imagine them salivating over what their feeble minds could fathom: Coffee. For them, anything would do.
I threw the entire can at them and ran for the driver’s seat of the Mustang. My Barista was cringing in the passenger’s floorboard. Placing it in first gear, the clutch popped as we tore away from the bean-heads.
“Gimme! Gimme! Medicine! I need medicine!”
“God almighty! Listen to yourself. Here,” I said, holding the bag of espresso roast beans out to him. “Just take a few. Don’t want to bust a tooth. I don’t think we’ll find a dentist.” I couldn’t help but pop a mouthful as well.
How long can we maintain? I wondered. How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering? Words can’t describe the taste…a little like being kissed by an angel. An angel made of latte dreams and espresso creams.
Something thumped under the tires.
“Dear Jesus!” my Barista said. “What the hell did we just hit?”
“Fuck, man, I don’t know. Maybe a raccoon. Possum. They’re everywhere, man.”
“You feeling anything yet?”
That thump again.
Were the animals getting the hell out of dodge, too? Well, if they were, they weren’t choosing the proper routes. Then again, we were in stealth-mode. No headlights. Nothing. The bean-heads couldn’t see us. And if they heard us, well, it was too late. No sympathy for the devil, right?
“Let’s give it a few minutes,” I said, knowing full well how long it would take. Soon my intestines would be screaming in agony. An agony I would welcome from the withdrawal. “Come on, you fuckers. Kick in!”
That bump again.
It wasn’t something we were hitting—
As soon as I felt the hand grab my throat and squeeze, I looked in the rearview mirror. Eyes that glowed piss-yellow stared back. The other hand grabbed the espresso roast.
Fuck…Even bean-heads won’t eat or drink Folgers. As the Mustang careened off the road, headed for the over-pass, I muttered: God, you’ve got me to answer to, as I swallowed the last of those heavenly beans. No sympathy for the devil, right?