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The rivers of darkness swirled together. Its warm aroma was tantalizing. Wisps of white smoke drifted
upward, whispers of a life not yet realized. One sip would be all that it would take to disappear forever into
the black water below, and then savor the sweet taste of oblivion. But how could you so easily let your life
It was another frigid day outside, and the streets and sidewalks were coated under sheets of ice. Chunks of
snow flew off passing cars and came crashing down onto salty but slippery concrete. Horns blasted in the air,
and tires screeching came close behind. The bell over the café door jingled with each pedestrian coming in
and stomping winter's remains off their shoes, and the smell of coffee was thick in the air. But nothing could
kill the chill that awaited outside.
Sitting in a booth near the window, Crissa swirled the black water around in her Styrofoam cup. She
breathed in deep the sweet aroma wafting up toward her. Gently, she brought her lips down to the near
boiling water, itching for a taste, but after a moment of hesitation, the cup was pulled away. There was no
point in burning her tongue just to savor the taste waiting to fill her mouth, and she was in no rush today.
Glancing at her watch, she let out a sigh. She had another half hour left before the bus came to pick her up
for work, and she missed her car. But it was still in the shop, and nobody questioned her about it or an
incident recently passed. And she was enjoying the warm, cozy air of the café because there would be no
warmth, no comfort waiting outside, and she really did hate the cold.
Feeling eyes on her, Crissa slowly looked up at a man sitting at the counter. For the last hour, he milked his
own hot drink and glanced at her every other minute. First, he tried to not make it obvious, but after that, it
seemed like he didn't care. He wanted Crissa to know that he was watching her.
“Why me,” she moaned as she sat back in her booth. “When are they going to learn?” A sigh escaped her lips
as she turned to stare out the window, ignoring the strange man, who continued to gaze at her.
Lifting the cup up to her lips, she took in a deep gulp of hot liquid. She let it burn the inside of her mouth for
a bit and then slowly swallowed it down. She took in another taste and enjoyed the hot water more, and it
seemed to silence that knot curling in her stomach, warning of the wait outside in the cold, frigid air.
“Hi.” Crissa hardly turned to look at the strange man now hovering near her booth. “Mind if I sit?” She
merely shrugged, cursing silently under her breath. “You look lost in thought.”
“I am.” She hardly shared the smile that he was now giving her.
“Jane.” She continued to drink her coffee.
“Waiting for the bus?”
“Damn it,” she thought but then cleared her throat. “Yes. You?”
“Yeah. My car's in the shop.” He stared at her for a moment. “What about you?”
“The same. My car died the other night. It's this cold air. Even with a good car battery, there are no
guarantees that your car will start the next day.”
“Welcome to New York.” He laughed at her joke. “The bus should be coming soon.”
He tapped his fingers against his Styrofoam cup. “I hate the cold.”
“Me too.” Crissa returned to looking out the window.
“Haven't seen you around before.” He slowly took a sip of his hot drink. “You from around here?”
“Not really.” She saw his disappointment at her answer, hoping for more information. “I'm just around
“No relatives or friends here?” Crissa shrugged, almost smiling at his growing disappointment.
“Me too. I'm alone.”
“I bet you are,” she thought but shook her head. “Aren't we all?” She finished her drink.
“Need a refill?” His smile flickered at the shake of her head. “They serve really good coffee here. I come in
here from time to time especially on days like this.”
“It's in a great spot right near the bus stop.”
“Where are you taking the bus to?”
“Work.” She glanced around the café but saw nobody was paying much attention to them. “We seem like old
friends,” she bitterly thought.
“Where do you work?”
“Retail.” She saw him take a minute to ask his next question. “I hate it.” She saw this interrupted his train of
thoughts and smiled for once.
“I bet. It's a rough gig.” He sat back in the booth across from her. “I personally would go crazy, if it were me
stuck in retail.”
“What do you do?”
“Me? Freelance stuff.” She looked him over not believing his words. “I'm in-between jobs right now.”
“Or on the run,” she muttered.
“Nothing. Almost time to go.” He nodded in agreement. “I can't be late for work.”
“Well, maybe after work, we could get together.” He gave her that look like a predator studying their prey.
“I don't think so.”
“I'm just not dating right now.”
“Don't you like me?” His smile was now gone, and his eyes reflected the coldness outside. “I'm a good guy.”
“Do you really look to pick up girls in a café like this?” She regretted finishing her coffee and not ordering
“I thought that... We had a connection.”
“We don't.” She started to slide past the table and out of the booth, but he raised his leg to block
“Can I just get your number?”
“I don't have a phone right now.”
“Do you have a cell? Everyone has a cell these days.”
“No. I don't need a cell.” He looked confused. “I have other connections.” She looked down at his leg. “Do you
mind?” She saw him turn to look at everyone in the café, contemplating his next move. “I would like to
leave, and I am sure that you don't want me to start screaming.” His head snapped in her direction. “I can
scream pretty loud.”
“I bet you can.” He slowly moved his leg away, allowing Crissa to leave the booth. “See you outside.” He
slowly finished his drink.
“If you're a smart boy, you would stay where you are,” she thought as she quickly bundled up her coat and
hurried toward the entrance door.
Once outside, winter wrapped around Crissa in its cold embrace. Its bitter touch snapped at her fingers,
which were now pushed deep into her pockets, and one hand closed around something, a pen that she forgot
about until now. Her toes tingled from numbness, and it must have been in the teens because she was
hardly outside for long. And she had a few minutes left to freeze before the bus came to get her.
A soft jingle from behind and a waft of warm air from the café signaled the approach of her new friend. His
footsteps softly came up beside her. A small, white cloud escaping from his lips brushed past her ear. He
may as well be standing over her because he was nearly right on top of her as it is.
“Cold outside?” She ignored him. “I hope winter ends soon.” No response still. “You could at least look at me
when I'm talking to you.”
“I'm sorry.” She looked at him. “Were you saying something?” She glanced down at the slippery pavement
underneath his shoes.
“You're really something, do you know that?”
“So I'm told.” She kicked at the ground below her, making sure she still had stability.
“I would really hate to see you slip.” He watched her kick at the ground below her. “It would be a shame,
seeing how the street is right there with cars going by so quickly.” He watched the traffic pass by. “And the
bus is almost here.”
“Yeah. I know.” She hardly blinked as he took a step closer to her. “What do you want from me?”
“I wanted your number.”
“I'm sorry. I can't give it to you.” He slowly put his hands on her shoulder. “You're making a big mistake
“Am I now?” His hands rested on her shoulders. “You're just a little girl. What can you possibly do to me?”
Without hesitation, Crissa grabbed him by his wrists and flipped him over her. Her neck cracked a little, but
she never lost her balance. Spinning around, she turned to see the man lying stunned on his back. She
glanced about to see if anybody had noticed what she just did, and she saw a few onlookers gawking at her.
“You bitch!” The man struggled to his feet but slipped on the street. “You fucking bitch!”
Just as he finally rose to his feet, he was struck by the bus and disappeared under it. A scream was heard,
followed by brakes screeching, and a pool of blood started to pour out across black pavement. Somewhere
behind the bus, a dark shoe was seen, but there was no more sound from the man that was bothering Crissa.
“Poor bastard,” an onlooker said as they glanced under the bus and then at Crissa. “Poor bastard.”
Turning around, Crissa started to walk home. Conversations spun up behind her with mentions of what she
did, but she never stopped walking. Her feet slipped and slid along the cold pavement, and her hands were
back, snuggling deep into her pockets. Words shouted behind her were simply ignored.
“He would have been alive, if he was smart,” she muttered, and a buzzing was heard inside her ear. “Now
“Yeah.” She kept walking. “Is my car ready to be picked up?”
“That's not funny.” She laughed at his words. “Did you just throw a man under a bus?”
“Why would I do something like that?”
“Because the police are looking for you, so did you throw a man under the bus?”
“No. He was standing in the street when it came.” A smile touched her lips. “He slipped on the sidewalk, fell
into the street, and was struck by the bus.”
“Don't lie to us, Crissa. We helped you out last time.”
“Fine. I flipped him over into the street, but the bus hitting him... Well, ask karma.”
“We can't keep cleaning up your mess.”
“He was a predator just like the other one.”
“You're supposed to stay invisible, Crissa.”
“Well, I'm having a bad week.” She stopped at a street corner and looked around. “Maybe it's just that time
of the month.”
“This isn't funny, Crissa.”
“So, what do you want me to do about it?”
“Are you going to work?”
“No. I'm calling in sick.” A sigh was heard in her ear. “What?”
“Nothing. Pretend you're sick. Go to the doctor's tomorrow, and get a note from him. And we'll clean up your
“This is the last time, or we'll have to take measures next time.” She knew what that meant. “Do you
“Good. Now, finish walking home.” She looked around but saw nobody watching her. “We'll talk later.” There
was almost laughter in his voice now, and she knew he was watching as always. “Go home.”
“I'm already there.” The buzzing died down in her ear. “All you do is watch, and I'm stuck dealing with these
people.” Shaking her head, she continued walking down the street toward home.
NEW REVIEWS: Alright now, just what is going on here, Miss Melissa? At first we thought we had Crissa
pegged as a CIA Agent. Like the heroes of some of our new popular novels. A la David Baldacci. Now she has
morphed like a melting icicle toward otherworldliness. Is she a ghost after all? And what is her true mission in
real time? Ah, but that is the fun of it all, isn't it? Clinging to us till we beg for more. Can't wait till the next
chapter, Melissa. Good fun. Great work! *****__J. M. Humperjohn.
I got it right from the beginning. Her otherworldliness comes through loud and clear here and in Ride I. She
does have some special earthly attributes though. Throwing men around like sacks of potatoes. Whew, would
not like to run into Crissa in a dark alley. Tough lady! The thing about it is, I might like her better if I knew
what she looked like. Any hope for that, Melissa? Quality writing, great read! *****__Captain Apple Jack.
Crissa is definitely my hero. We could use about thirty Crissas on the streets in Georgetown. Just because of
these stories, I might decide to enroll in a few classes of Martial Arts. Thanks for your wonderful stories,
Melissa. *****__Su Chang.
OTHER WORKS: To enjoy other works by Melissa R. Mendelson, CLICK HERE.
| "Ride Home II: Black Coffee"
By Melissa R. Mendelson
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Rated "PG" by the Author.
If only to enjoy the taste of black coffee without interruption.