While the Lisping Barista was nursing her wounds in the attic of the High Street haunted house, and the Geeky Guy was nursing her, nothing much was going on at the Epiphany Café. The café was closed. You see, now that the Geeky Guy had the Lisping Barista in his attic, he had no need for the café, which he had purchased for the sole reason to get close to her. Furthermore, he had no stomach for business and all the petty aggravations that come along with having to schedule workers and keep the place clean, prosperous, and fully stocked. He created spreadsheets for every task, but found that a spreadsheet by itself does not keep the half and half fresh and the napkins waiting. Consequently, if the café had run out of a crucial item or if the Geeky Guy hadn’t found anyone to work a particular shift, or if he had forgotten to ask, the café simply closed its doors. All of its customers’ epiphanies would have to wait for another day.
The people of Kenilworth are a fine, generous, charitable bunch most of the time, when it suits them; but they weren’t getting their fix of caffeine. The river, which had come all the way from the Frenchified regions of northern Vermont, not to mention New Hampshire, seemed to pause outside the café and shift back and forth in nervous waiting that the scientist types said was due to the comings and going of the tides. We all knew better, though, and recognized in the river’s agitation, our own feelings about the café’s closing. Eventually, the river moved on. What the environmental impact was on the shellfish and cod fisheries by discharging so much disappointed New England water into the Atlantic Ocean, we’ll never know. Could this be enough to tip the balance towards climate change? Might the Lisping Barista’s reluctant residence in the attic of the High Street haunted house prove to be ultimately responsible for the flooding of the Maldives Islands or the next big hurricane to hit Haiti? We can only speculate. What we do know are the immediate effects on the people of Kenilworth and what they did about it.
The first time the Crazy Dog Lady walked her dogs to the Epiphany Café and found it was closed, she continued right on to the Dunkin Donuts down the street; but they would not let her dogs in. She let out a howl when she saw the sign on the door. This was not right, she cried. It was discriminatory. The dogs, themselves took up the howl, even though they didn’t understood the full implications of the policy. It was enough for them that their alpha was upset.
The Town Cop, who was not directly affected by the café’s closing because he preferred Dunkin Donuts anyway, set aside his Boston Cream to see what the ruckus was all about. His presence was enough to deter the Crazy Dog Lady from storming the Dunkin Donuts and starting a revolution, but it was not enough to deter her from calling him a pig. The Town Cop, who still wore his thinning hair in a ponytail in homage to his hippie days, just shrugged his shoulders and said that, seeing as though he was a pig, he would have another donut.
Things were tough for the only cop in the town of Kenilworth. A long time ago the people of Kenilworth decided that they weren’t citizens anymore, they were only taxpayers. As soon as they realized that, they stopped paying taxes. They allowed their roads to deteriorate so they could have more money to blacktop their driveways. They each put a basketball hoop over each of those driveways because the one at the town park had fallen to the ground. They saved so much money by not paying school taxes that some of them could afford to send their kids to private school. They cut the police force to a single, pony-tailed, ex-hippie cop and hired the laid off policemen as private security guards. This cop, believing that arresting many people would only mean the crime rate was soring, seldom arrested anyone and preferred to hang out at the Dunkin Donuts with strangers, tourists, passers-by, and others who didn’t know any better. You see, before the closing of the Epiphany Café, few residents of Kenilworth ever went to Dunkin Donuts, for they knew the café was the better option. The Town Cop could spend all day eating donuts and the taxpayers wouldn’t know any better.
All this, of course, changed when the Epiphany Café closed its doors and we began to flock to the Dunkin Donuts. The Town Cop, who was no dummy, could see that times were a changing, ordered a box to go, got in his car, and found a quiet place in the woods to eat them.
The Town Drug Dealer also knew the value of keeping up appearances. He and the Town Cop had an understanding. The Drug Dealer would not deal drugs in front of the cop and the cop would not arrest him. Therefore, the Epiphany Café’s closing had shut down his business until he saw that the Town Cop had left the Dunkin Donuts with a box. Then he moved right in.
The only one really happy about the Epiphany Café’s closing was the Dog-Fearing iPhone Pecker, who was grateful for the No Dogs sign at the Dunkin Donuts. However, she soon found something else to be afraid about. There were so many people at the Dunkin Donuts, with the Kenilworth residents joining the passers-through, that there were a couple of times she forgot to breath. Actually, she remembered breathing, but she told herself that, with so many people in one room, there would not be enough air left over for her. Therefore, the Dog-Fearing iPhone Pecker, exited the dog-free Dunkin Donuts just as she had often exited the dog-ridden Epiphany Café; only now, when she stepped out of the door, she was greeted by the Crazy Dog Lady and all of her dogs who had set up a picket line in protest of the sign. This all was too much for the Dog-Fearing iPhone Pecker, who went back into the foyer and pecked her iPhone.
Most of us crossed the Crazy Dog Lady’s picket line and passed the Dog-Fearing iPhone Pecker in the foyer. Nothing like equal rights for dogs would keep us from our coffee. The exception was Kenilworth’s patron saint, who went on being saintly without the café. She had been accustomed to stopping every day and paying for the latte of the unsuspecting and undeserving next person in line; but, with the café closed, she found another object for her charity. The Leatherman got an extra slice of bologna in his sandwich, the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat got a better brand of vodka, and the resident saint got busy cleaning the dog shit up from in front of the Dunkin Donuts.
The better brand of vodka for the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat had an unforeseen consequence. The good people of Kenilworth had learned to tolerate the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat living by the dumpster of the Epiphany Café, just as they had learned to tolerate the town’s other homeless person, the Leatherman. The Leatherman was easier; he stayed in the town only once in a while as he passed through on his regular circuit through Connecticut and Hudson Valley, New York. The worthy Kenilworthians liked to check their calendars against his unvarying appearance and compete with other towns for who could be more generous. The Leatherman had been at it long enough that he had become an institution. Tales about him had passed from one generation to the next. Father prohibited their sons to chuck stones at him. Mothers sent their daughters to him with flowers. There were feature articles written about him in the newspaper. Even the dogs didn’t bark as he tramped past them from town to town.
The Leatherman was one thing; the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat, quite another. As beloved as he had briefly been as a barista at the Epiphany Café, he was still very much a stranger around these parts. Because his hybrid southern-midwestern-western accent had yet to pick up a Connecticut brogue, he didn’t sound like them. With his cowboy hat, he didn’t look like them; and, after a few days living by the dumpster, he didn’t smell like them, either. They barely tolerated him because he kept to himself, out of sight, out back; but, after the Epiphany Café closed and he started drinking a better brand of vodka than they could afford, they got grumpy and began to complain that their home had a problem with homelessness.
With most of the town of Kenilworth hanging out at the Dunkin Donuts with strangers, tourists, passers-by, and others who didn’t know any better, these complaints had an effect they wouldn’t have had if the Epiphany Café was open and the two groups were segregated. Previously, the residents of Kenilworth would only complain amongst themselves till they got it out of their system, and nothing would come of it; but, now, with them complaining in front of the strangers, tourists, and passers-by, with all their potential tourist money and investment capital, it was getting embarrassing. The Town Selectman had to get in the act. He blamed the Town Cop.
If the people of Kenilworth had been citizens, and not just taxpayers, they would have urged the Town Selectman to find a place for the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat to go for rehab; but, with things as they were, rehab was too expensive. A mob began to form at the Dunkin Donuts. Between bites of crullers, the good people of Kenilworth began to talk, not of getting rid of the homeless, but getting rid of the worthless cop. What were they paying their taxes for, if it wasn’t for the Town Cop to harass the homeless that filled their town?
The Drug Dealer, who knew which side of his donut had chocolate frosting, packed up his wares and set out to look for the Town Cop. Because he knew all the hiding spots, he was able to quickly find the cop and tell him that the taxpayers were on the warpath. Get to the dumpster behind the Epiphany Café, he said, and evict the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat and then find the Leatherman and convince him to alter his route, before the taxpayers find a real cop to do your job.
By the time the people of Kenilworth had passed out enough torches and pitchforks to overthrow a dynasty, the Town Cop had the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat in the back seat of his car and was going off to meet the Leatherman before he crossed the town line. He had been sighted in Essex yesterday and could be expected to take up residence at the Kenilworth Burial Ground in two days.