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Coffee Jitters
by Walt Giersbach

“Coffee’s going to be the death of you, Charlie.  I’m warning you.”  Doc Magruder had been Charlie’s friend since the second grade, but he’d never known the pain of withdrawal.

Charlie Monaghan was a toper. He never trolled the garage without a container in his hand. The back of his Honda was filled with empty cardboard coffee cups.

Even Gloria May was on his case, “Dammit, Charlie, put down that cup when you talk to me. You want to get married, but I can’t have you carryin’ coffee to the altar.””

The guys at the Friday night poker game looked weirdly at him as they sipped their Jack ‘n’ Coke and he slugged black coffee. Of course, he usually cleaned up on all the pots. Both money and coffee.

“I’ve had it with all of you!” he finally shouted at the guys in the middle of a game of five card draw. You, too, Magruder. And even you,” he said to Gloria May, bringing shock and tears to her blue eyes.

So Charlie left. Just like that. People in town jabbered and made crude jokes and gossiped about Charlie killing himself or dying of jangled coffee nerves.

Until he came back two weeks later, driving a new Ford F-150 pickup truck. He stepped out in front of Rollie’s Bun ‘n’ Run Café, smiled broadly, tipped his ball cap to a lady and went inside.

“Well, where the heck you been, Charlie?” Doc asked.

“Up to my country place.” He spoke slowly, not all herky-jerky. “Kicked the coffee habit. Caught a few small mouths at the same time.”

“Howdja do it?” Doc gasped.

“Ever time I got the cravin', I put a dollar in a Mason jar. Wasn’t easy. But I stuck to it.”

“And you saved enough to buy that truck out there?”

“Nah. Somethin’ else.”

“Well, what’s the secret?”

“Shucks,” Charlie muttered. “It wasn’t savin’ money. It was Gloria May. We’d gone out and made a little whoop-de-do and she gave me her panties as a souvenir afore I came home. A joke.  I had to get up early and go to work, but I still had a few minutes to pleasure myself. So I put her panties over my head while I did my thing. When I was done, I took ‘em off and found my Mom had come in and put a cup of coffee by my bed. Right there and then, Doc, I said I was leavin’ home and swearin’ off coffee before marryin’ Gloria May.”