“‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Starbuck”

Hussein is Executed... swift end to drama.  Headline, NY TIMES, Dec. 30, 2006

Starbucks opens early, three of us waiting at the door as the manager unlocks it, swoops an apron around her waist and announces, They killed that motherfucker, and raises a fist to haul it down, the elbow a sling shot to the counter she shimmies around. I stayed up all night thinking they’d show the video. She slams the pots in place; her sidekick, all of nineteen, says, You know it takes like an hour. I say, What? and pull out my coffee card. To die, he says and flips a switch behind him, so a machine starts gurgling, to die by hanging. One of the other customers says, They should just nuke them all. The manager laughs, I heard they have to do it several times if it don’t work the first. She mimes hanging herself by a noose, yanking her imaginary rope, and sticks her tongue out. The third customer says, Hey, I don’t really give a damn as long as I get my coffee. Other customers have followed us in. They mutter latte-this or latte-that, with or without fat or cream or extra caffeine or Italian flavors. I linger over the sugar station, my wooden fingers swirling a wooden stick in circles as sullen people come and go. It’s a bright morning, and the music promises the hippest days are the ones yet to come if we keep our hands full and our hearts empty. In the dictionary, there are two denotations for heart, the anatomical and the zoological, all others, and there are many, are metaphoric and idiomatic. Hanging by a thin thread is idiomatic as well, and by morning, the video the Starbucks manager waited up for was live, RAW FEED, they call it, unedited, a man, men in hoods, a noose looking like the same noose you’d draw on a kid’s desk, the hole in the floor not idiomatic, the guns, automatic, nothing separating you from seeing it as long as you’re connected, which you can be at Starbucks if you have an account, pay your bill, and drink your coffee. But Starbuck, the chain’s namesake, knew he didn’t want a man in his boat who wasn’t afraid of a whale. It’s hard to have a whale, to admit fear, to live with awe. Some of us pierce ourselves for it, a wooden leg to stand on when our own are too weak. My coffee-stained stick between my teeth, insulated coffee in my hands, I walk out of the music and submerge myself in the day engulfing me in a shroud of oxygen.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
Contents | The Wonderful World of Cosmesis