The place smelled of deep roasted coffee, I was surprised it was still heavy in the air after sixteen hours. No one had been badly injured, but there were a few hospitalizations. Concussions, and abrasions; a few minor injuries associated with a heavy hail of this sort.
My tires crunched with the sounds of fresh coffee beans; people were about in the streets again. Most of them were out with cans and buckets collecting the fallout; despite the radio and television broadcasts that the fallout is most likely hazardous to their health. I stopped out in front of the sheriff’s station, and heard a loud crunch as I stepped out into the parking lot. I leaned down and picked up a single coffee bean from among the hundreds littering the pavement. I loved the smell of coffee, and this place smelled deep roasted.
Note to self; sell coffee futures. See into land here, after lab researches length of coffee aroma on massive magnitude.
I contemplated the bean for a minute looking at the fine brown mist that covered everything in Fayette, and the inch and a half thick crust of coffee beans. The four-hour hailstorm of deeply roasted coffee beans had taken its toll on the tiny Ohio town.
I walked up the stairs, and into the Sheriff’s station. The receptionist looked up from her cup of coffee, and I walked up to her desk.
“I’m Adam Nemo, with the Government. I need to see the sheriff.”
She didn’t say a word as she looked at me over her coffee, but picked up the phone anyway.
“Sir, there’s a man from the Government here to see you.”
She hung up the phone and smiled at me; still not having spoken to me.
“So, is that The coffee…?” I asked her. She nodded her head, and it bothered me. The silent ones always had something to hide, and then she offered me some.
I took my hands from where they had been resting on the counter, and held them up in front of me.
“Oh, no thanks. So are you always this quiet?” She nodded her head.
“Do you even spe-“ My sarcasm was cut short; that really upsets me.
“Hello, sir! I’m Sheriff Hood! Pleasure to meet you!” I could see why the receptionist was so quiet, I didn’t want to make direct contact for fear of my ear rupturing. Or being drenched in saliva.
“Agent Nemo. Pleasure’s mine, Sheriff.” He had the grip of a used car salesman. Firm, unrelenting, and greasy. I tried hard not to disguise my wiping my hand down the counter to rid myself of the Sheriff’s filmy layer.
“Well, Agent! What can we do for you?!”
“I’m here to investigate your hail storm from last night, Sheriff.”
“You got here quicker than I had expected!”
“I need to ask you a few questions about last night Sheriff.”
“Sure thing! Step on into my office!” He motioned me into the back, and I didn’t relish the thought of being in an enclosed space with this guy.
“Hey, Sheriff. I just drove for four hours, where’s your little Agent’s room?”
He looked at me funny and pointed me into another corner of the station. I went on through, and ran some water for a minute so it sounded like I was actually doing something.
Note to self; invest in ear protection. Plugs, etc.
I ran tissue paper into my ears, and made sure I trimmed the excess off. Local law always was a little sensitive about their toes and pride. I turned the water off, and walked a little smugly towards the Sheriff’s office.
“Ok, Sheriff. Did you notice anything unusual before the storm started?”
“Well, there was the vague aroma of coffee in the air.”
“Where were you before the storm?”
“I assume they serve coffee.”
“Is there always a ‘vague aroma of coffee’ in the diner.”
“Well now that you mention it, yes. Good call.”
“Yeah… thanks, that’s why I’m here.”
Note to self; get assigned off small-town duty.
“Well anything else unusual beforehand?”
“Well, no looked like a normal storm a’ cookin’.”
“Yeah, she kicked up a fit beforehand. Whew, sounded like God was percolating one hell of a brew.”
I wrote down a few notes and turned my pad so that the Sheriff couldn’t see. His neck was already at full capacity trying very hard to see the sketch of the tree I was doodling on.
“So, did it actually thunder and lightning during the hail?”
“Oh yeah. It kicked it up.”
I drew a little more on my tree while I was ‘Hmmm-ing’.
“I would like to see a few of the injured. Could we take a ride over to the hospital?”
As we passed the receptionist she turned to me to speak and no sound came out. I stared at her lips sounding out words and paragraphs, and couldn’t’ hear a thing.
“What?!” I asked.
She went to speak again; I could barely hear her muffled voice. I quickly removed my tissue from my ears, and she was just staring at me again.
She shook her head, and held up her hand as if to say ‘don’t bother’.
“Hey! Come on!” The Sheriff screamed into my ear; I had to hold myself back from jumping him.
It was in the car that my phone went off; it was Newt, my lab lad.
“Sheriff, could you excuse us?”
“But I’m driving…”
I just stared at him from across the bench seat. He pulled the car over, and got out mumbling which sounded like normal speech to me.
“Newt, my boy. What do you got for me?”
“Definitively a coffee strain, definitively not grown in earth soil. Tasty though.”
“You drank it?”
“Yeah, you should try some. I think it might have some medicinal properties too.”
“What ‘medicinal properties’?”
“It looks like it produces anti-bodies into your blood stream, and if there are enough anti-bodies already in your system; it goes to the brain and ups the activity.”
“You mean it makes you healthier and makes you more intelligent.”
“More brain activity doesn’t denote a higher I.Q. you know that, but it makes their brain more active in the limitations placed on their physiology.”
“Good work, Newt. Keep me posted on anything new.”
“No problem, Nemo.”
“Mr. Conroy, Hello I’m Agent Nemo. I’m with the Government, I’d like to ask you a few questions about the storm last night.”
“Hell Coffee!” The withered old man latched onto my arm with a squid like intensity. I tried to pull free, but he didn’t budge.
“It reminded me of Germany, we were in Berlin. I was in the Marines; we had marched for twenty days. Then in the heart of Berlin an artillery shell struck a café, and sent shrapnel flying everywhere. I was struck in my left eye with a coffee bean, my mate from home Chuck was killed when their cappuccino machine penetrated his chest cavity sending a froth into his heart. He was the lucky one; my eye is still scarred and I can still see that coffee a flying if I close my eyes just like it was yesterday.”
My arm finally broke free, and I jumped back out of range of his arms, almost out of breath. The old man slumped back into his bed passing out and mumbling about incoming pastry cakes.
“Well, Sheriff. I think that’s enough for interviews.”
“You only did one.”
“One’s all the information I need, Sheriff.”
“Well Sheriff. I hope for your sake you don’t have to see me again.”
“So, you never did say who you worked for?”
“I work for O.M.E.N..”
“Omen what’s that?
“What’s O.M.E.N.? It’s classified, that’s what it is.”
It’s hard to look mysterious when you’re slipping on coffee beans and falling down stairs as you try to walk calmly back to your car to drive off leaving more questions than there were a few hours before. Things like where had this miracle coffee come from? Was it an extra-terrestrial roast or simply Joe from God?