Americano by Colin Kelly

A broken leg, a cup of coffee, a Danish, a cell phone, and a teddy bear.
Seemingly unrelated, these items are interconnected for Owen and Donna in an unexpected manner.


Owen sat at one of Caffeo’s outside tables waiting for Donna to bring him his coffee. Ever since he broke his leg he would come downstairs from his apartment to the coffee shop on the ground floor of his building, and sit at one of the outside tables. Donna would see him and bring him his usual order. It wasn’t just a cup of coffee; it was a large cup of coffee with two shots of espresso.

When he first came to Caffeo and gave Donna his order, she jokingly called him a caffeine addict, and he disagreed with her.

“I’m one of those unusual people that isn’t affected by caffeine. I love coffee, very strong coffee, so I always order it with a couple shots of espresso so it tastes as strong as I like. Some places call that an Americano.”

“Okay, I’ll be right out with your Americano. I want to see if it’s as strong as you like.”

When she returned she sat across from him at the little table and watched as he took a sip, then another.

“Well? Is it as strong as you like?”

“Yes, it’s perfect. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Can I get you anything else?”

“Nope. I’m good.”

Owen’s trip to Caffeo became his morning routine. He’d hobble down from his apartment at 9:15, sit at one of the outside tables, Donna would note that he had arrived and make his Americano and take it out to him.

One morning Donna delivered his order and grinned.

“We’ve added the Americano to our list of coffee drinks. Now we have customers ordering it. Thank you for giving us the idea.”

“You’re welcome. Have you tried it?”

“Yes. It’s too strong for me. I’m affected by caffeine, and one of your Americanos made me feel jittery the rest of the morning.”

“I’m sorry,” Owen said.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. We have other customers who are ordering Americanos as their regular coffee drink, and that make the boss happy.”

“Who’s the boss?”

“Me,” Donna said, and she grinned and returned inside.

As the days passed Donna and Owen became friendly. At first they talked about the weather, then about baseball, then about movies. If she hadn’t been wearing a wedding ring he would have asked her out.

One day instead of standing at the table she sat down.

“Owen, I’ve been wondering, and if it isn’t too personal, I’m curious about how you broke your leg.”

“I got sideswiped in traffic on 280. My motorcycle, with me on it, ended up in a culvert alongside the freeway in Woodside. My leg got banged up really bad. Good thing it happened near Stanford Hospital because they took me there. The surgeon at Stanford did a great job reconstructing the bones in my leg. I’d been told I might never be able to walk on that leg, but after the operation the surgeon told me when the cast is off and I’ve gone through rehab my leg will be good as new.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. What happened to your motorcycle?”

“Unfortunately, it was in worse shape than me. It’s too bad, too. I had a Lauge Jensen motorcycle. That’s a Danish brand. Each one is hand built and the customer is involved in the design of their motorcycle. I’m lucky that I have good insurance. They are building a replica of my motorcycle. Because they have all of the design documents from the model that was totaled in the accident, they will be able to finish it about twelve weeks from now. That means it’ll be here by the time I’ve gotten my cast off and my physical therapy finished.”

“Hand built? That must be very expensive.”

“Yes, it is. Fortunately I have a Danish birth certificate and passport, so it’s only costing me about $45,000 plus another $5,000 for crating and flying it to San Francisco Airport. If you’re not Danish the selling price doubles.” Owen shrugged.

“$50,000 for a motorcycle? My God, that is crazy expensive.”

“I know. Motorcycles are my favorite mode of transportation. A couple years ago I went home to Aarhus, that’s my hometown in Denmark, and saw one of the Lauge Jensen motorcycles. I fell in love. It’s such a magnificent machine.”

“So the insurance company is paying for the replacement?”

“Well, there is a deductible that I have to pay. It’s fifty percent. The insurance company is paying the other fifty percent. Oh, and they’re paying all of the packing and shipping costs.”

“Huh. That part is so generous of them,” Donna said with a sneer.

Owen laughed. “Yeah, isn’t it!”

“What about the guy who sideswiped you? Wouldn’t his insurance cover the rest? Or maybe all of it?”

“It was a sideswipe-and-run. The van that hit me just kept going like nothing had happened. There were some witnesses behind me who stopped, called 9-1-1, and helped stop the bleeding. They saw a light tan van, but by the time they realized what had happened they couldn’t read the license plate number.”

“Did you see who hit you?”

“No. All I remember is this van moving into my lane. The driver must not have seen me because the van moved over like I wasn’t there. What’s weird is I remember what seemed like a huge teddy bear slamming into me.”

Donna’s expression changed to one of anger.

“Uh, excuse me for a minute, Owen.”

“Sure.”

She walked down the street to the end of the block. Owen saw her pull a cell phone out of her apron pocket and it looked like she dialed a number. She stood there talking to someone and he lost interest. He picked up his e-reader and opened it to a novel he’d been reading.

A few minutes later Donna sat down at his table. She put a fresh cup of Americano coffee and a platter on the table. The platter had about a dozen of the Danish pastries Caffeo carried.

“Owen, let’s finish these, on the house. They’re fresh now, but by tonight they’ll be stale.” She grinned. “Danish pastries for a Danish citizen who bought a Danish motorcycle for an amount of money that most people would use as the down payment on a house.”

“Well, I don’t need a house, and while I don’t need the Danish pastries I’ll eat a couple of them anyway. If I eat more than that I’ll start to gain weight now that I can’t exercise.”

He picked a raspberry-topped pastry and took a bite.

“Oh! This is so delicious.” He made a production out of taking another bite, chewing, and swallowing. Then, with his eyes closed, he let out a satisfied sigh. He opened up his eyes and smiled. “Thank you, Donna. These are absolutely delicious.”

“Now I have something else for you, Owen. I know who sideswiped you on the 280 freeway.”

“How in the world would you know who did it?”

“There were two clues. First, the color of the van. Second, the picture of a teddy bear. And third, the distracted driving.”

“That’s three.”

“What?”

“You said there were two clues. Then you told me three clues.”

Donna rolled her eyes. She hated when her daughter did that, but she’d picked up the habit.

“Excuse my sidetracking you. So, you were saying you know who it is who sideswiped me?”

“The van is from the Teddy Love Diaper Service.”

“I was run into by a van filled with dirty diapers?” Owen laughed. “I have this image of piles of dirty diapers being ejected from the van and ending up on top of me in that culvert. That’s very funny. I’m glad the van wasn’t damaged; if it had been it could have dumped its load on me.”

“But it was damaged. When the driver got back to the laundry the right side-panel and the rear fender were heavily damaged. The driver hadn’t even noticed that he’d hit someone.”

“Okay, I understand all that. But how do you know that’s what happened?”

“My Uncle Theodore owns the Teddy Love Diaper Service. He called the San Jose police and reported the accident. They didn’t seem to be doing anything about it, so he took some pictures of that side of the van then had it repaired. That’s where it ended. Now he wants you to phone him with your insurance information and where you reported the accident. He wants to do the right thing and make sure your replacement Danish motorcycle is replaced at no cost to you.”

“I can’t believe it. That’s wonderful. I would’ve had to close out my 401K retirement account to pay my fifty percent. Now your uncle’s insurance should pay that. Please tell him thank you for me, both for being so honest and for paying the rest of the cost of my replacement Lauge Jensen motorcycle.”

The next morning Owen stopped at Caffeo and Donna brought out his Americano coffee.

“My uncle is on his way here to personally apologize for what happened to you. And he’s bringing you a little gift.”

“A gift? What is it?”

“Oh, you’ll have to just wait and see. He’ll be here soon.”

A few minutes later a burly man walked up to Owen’s table.

“You must be Owen Sorensen. I’m Theodore Love.”

“I’m glad to meet you. Excuse me for not standing, but my leg is healing and part of the healing process is it hurts when I get up or sit down. Your name is really Theodore Love?”

“Yes, Love is really my last name, and my nickname is Teddy. Think about the fun I had in junior and senior high school.” He chuckled. “May I sit down?”

“Yes, certainly. I want to thank you for being so honest….”

Theodore put up his hand, palm out. “Please, I’m the only one who has to say anything here, and that’s to apologize for my driver who didn’t pay enough attention to see that you were in the lane, and didn’t even realize that he’d hit someone. He had his iPod with the earplugs in his ears and he wouldn’t have even heard a police siren. I also know now why the San Jose police didn’t find anything. The accident didn’t happen in San Jose, which is in Santa Clara County. It happened in Woodside, which is in San Mateo County. The San Jose police couldn’t find any record of an accident in San Jose or Santa Clara County, so they filed it, which means they dropped it.

“So, thank you for calling me with your information. My insurance company has that now, and they’re preparing the paperwork and a payment of $50,000. We’re going to pay the full price for your replacement motorcycle and the shipping and handling costs. If it’s more than that, just send them your bill and they’ll pay you the additional amount.”

“Wow. I’m really stunned. Let me say that if I ever have any children I’ll definitely use your diaper service.”

Theodore smiled. “Thanks. Now, I have a little gift for you. It’s similar to the greeting gift we give every new customer.” He stopped and laughed when he saw Owen’s expression. Owen had visions of a set of things like baby powder and a package of diapers.

“Here you are, Owen. I hope you enjoy it.”

As Owen started to open the package, Donna came out to watch. He removed the wrapping paper, which had a definite baby theme with cartoon babies in full color. The box was a solid blue. He carefully lifted the lid and looked inside. Then he reached in to remove the contents.

“Oh my God! This is wonderful! Thank you, Theodore! And thank you, Donna, for figuring out what happened.”

He held up a teddy bear. But not just a teddy bear, a teddy bear sitting on a motorcycle. Maybe it wasn’t a Lauge Jensen motorcycle, but it was perfect.

Written as a response to Gay Authors Writing Prompt 276


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This story and the included images are Copyright 2013 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey’s World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted. Original image Copyright © 2013 by l4red0 | stock.xchng.

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