to be the death of you, Charlie. Im
warning you. Doc Magruder had been
Charlies friend since the second grade, but
hed never known the pain of withdrawal.
Charlie Monaghan was a
toper. He never trolled the garage without a
container in his hand. The back of his Honda was
filled with empty cardboard coffee cups.
Even Gloria May was on his
case, Dammit, Charlie, put down that cup
when you talk to me. You want to get married, but
I cant have you carryin coffee to the
The guys at the Friday
night poker game looked weirdly at him as they
sipped their Jack n Coke and he
slugged black coffee. Of course, he usually
cleaned up on all the pots. Both money and
Ive had it with
all of you! he finally shouted at the guys
in the middle of a game of five card draw. You,
too, Magruder. And even you, he said to
Gloria May, bringing shock and tears to her blue
So Charlie left. Just like
that. People in town jabbered and made crude
jokes and gossiped about Charlie killing himself
or dying of jangled coffee nerves.
Until he came back two
weeks later, driving a new Ford F-150 pickup
truck. He stepped out in front of Rollies
Bun n Run Café, smiled broadly,
tipped his ball cap to a lady and went inside.
Well, where the heck
you been, Charlie? Doc asked.
Up to my country
place. He spoke slowly, not all herky-jerky. Kicked
the coffee habit. Caught a few small mouths
at the same time.
Howdja do it?
Ever time I got the
cravin', I put a dollar in a Mason jar. Wasnt
easy. But I stuck to it.
And you saved enough
to buy that truck out there?
Well, whats the
muttered. It wasnt savin money. It
was Gloria May. Wed gone out and made a
little whoop-de-do and she gave me her panties as
a souvenir afore I came home. A joke. I had
to get up early and go to work, but I still had a
few minutes to pleasure myself. So I put her
panties over my head while I did my thing. When
I was done, I took em off and found my Mom
had come in and put a cup of coffee by my bed. Right
there and then, Doc, I said I was leavin
home and swearin off coffee before marryin