Since I opened the coffee shop, I’ve learned not to ask too many questions. I bought out the location, wedged between an organic food market and an overly modern art boutique, because I thought I’d get an interesting crowd. I should have been more careful about my wish.
My first customer of the day wandered in about five minutes after the shop opened, still yawning and rubbing his eyes. His halo illuminated the dark circles under his eyes.
“Been putting in long hours?” I asked, my voice sympathetic as I rang up his usual order. Aside from the archangels, who’ve managed to pick up some unique tastes to accompany their personalities, most angels order the same thing. Large coffee, seven creams, seven sugars. The mixture looks nearly white.
The angel nodded in response. “Big flood in southeast Asia,” he replied. Somehow his voice was melodious, even when slurred and sleepy. “More souls coming in means a lot more paperwork. Way too much late night reading.”
The first day that the store was open, I received only a single customer: a peculiar man dressed in an oversized fedora and what appeared to be three trench coats, each of a different color and cut. I later learned that angels are comically bad at disguising themselves. After tasting his sweetened cream, with just a hint of coffee, the man had enthusiastically informed me that I would be getting “a lot of business very soon.”
I passed over the angel’s coffee, and he dropped a heavy gold coin onto the wooden counter with a dull thud. I quickly tucked it away in the box sitting beneath the register. One angelic quirk: while they understand the concept of money, they haven’t yet mastered inflation, or commodities exchange. I don’t know where they get the coins, each emblazoned with the profile of a bearded man and curly, indecipherable writing hammered around the edge. One day I sat down, weighed a few of them to get an average, and worked out that I was being paid roughly $700 per coffee.
The second morning, nearly two dozen angels had drifted through my shop. After closing for the day, my sugar and cream completely gone, I sat in the back room for nearly an hour, staring at the stack of heavy gold coins I had received as payment.
“Have a good day!” I began, but my well wishes were cut short as the angel turned away.
“Sir, your robe!” I shouted, as the angel took a pull of the coffee, his backside turned to me. And what a backside it was! The heavenly miracle that held his white robe around his figure had somehow failed today, and the poor angel’s bare ass was hanging out for me and the world to see.
After a couple weeks, things began settling into a routine. The angels came in two surges, one in the morning and one shortly after lunch. They don’t come from outside, and they certainly don’t fly; occasionally, when the door opens, I get a glimpse of brilliant white from the other side before the angel emerges. Although they vary slightly in hair color, height, and facial features, they’re always dressed in white, with a small halo bobbing overhead.
The angel looked down at himself, and flushed red with embarrassment. With a wave of his hand, he repaired the wardrobe malfunction, and quickly scurried away.
I didn’t have time to laugh over this occurrence; more customers were already entering, many of them still adjusting halos, tuning harps, or trying to keep their flaming swords from singing my carpets. I’ve been forced to put a large sign on the register, stating that any accidental arsonist will be refused service.
Once or twice, I’ve been graced by the visit of an archangel. Unlike their inferiors, they wear smartly tailored suits, with small slits in the back for their wings. One of them, Gabriel, was quite friendly, and explained to me that my shop happened to be at a nexus of intersecting loci, spanning nearly nine of the fourteen dimensions. I’m not sure what this means, but it makes my coffee shop very easy for the angels to access.
Archangels are also very serious about coffee. Gabriel waited for me to brew a fresh pot, and then drank it black. Although well-mannered and appreciative, he recommended several exotic varieties of coffee bean. I placed the order later that day. It never hurts to have an archangel’s favorite flavor on hand.
After the morning rush had tapered off, I made sure to lock the box beneath the register. It was getting quite heavy from the gold coins inside; I’d need to visit a Cash 4 Gold location fairly soon. Although I made nearly fifteen thousand dollars each day, I had started donating most of the money to various charity programs. It felt like the right thing to do.
I did use a bit of the money for a new sign for the coffee shop, however. “Heavenly Grounds” just has the right sound to it, don’t you think?