Starbucks on 3rd

You grip the heavy, cast iron handle and pull the door open.

Intensity hits you. Wood. Concrete. Aluminum. Spotlights. Tentacled… chandeliers? Layered, backlit browns, blacks, and mochas forming high walls and higher ceilings. The sensation of standing inside the microscopic cavern of a coffee bean, in the suspended nanosecond that a grinding blade tears it open.

Your mind struggles to comprehend this place, this temple to the incorporated gods of caffeine. A map of the world recessed high on the wall presents you the coffee-producing regions, expressed as a stochastic rainbow between the ideal latitudes. Antique coffee-making machinery, canvas bags, and glass vessels watch you stoically from high shelves.

English coffee vocabulary in rigid fonts and flowing script whispers invitations at the edges of your awareness, takes root. Familiar fixtures coalesce. Brand signposts emerge from the bricolage.

A black counter. A green apron. A person.

“Hi, how are you?”

You’re unsure how to answer that in the moment. You order. You pay. You wait. You step back and scan the room. White 30-somethings hunch over laptops and phones. Power cords snake between chairs on the raw concrete floor. You float among conversation fragments. Chocolate leather seats. Cast iron table legs. Stained cedar, oak, and walnut.

Your Undertoe is ready. You’re not sure how long it’s been sitting at the bar.

You drift around some more until you find a seat. There’s barely room to squeeze between the artisan briefcases, designer boots, and kevlar backpacks. Light glints off a clasp. You the sip the Undertoe, oblivious to the taste.

Caffeine takes hold. The shocking strangeness fades. The wood, concrete, and aluminum stabilize. They regress into their roles — elements of a stage for the privileged patrons. The walls of wood slats painted thick in black lacquer melt into nondescription. Into your subconscious. Into the collective unconscious of the Normal.

Suddenly, you can’t see this place. Distinctions defer to a formless noise as the blade grinds this cavern finer and finer into an atomic powder of primordial potential.

Desperately, you begin to write.

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