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Au Lait

by Dan Crawford

About the Author: Dan is the author of three mystery novels published by Ace Science Fiction and has appeared frequently in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. He sells used books, and occasionally reads them as well.


Susan-Barbara pried the lid off the coffee cup. She didn’t need the taste of plastic and wanted to see … damn! They made it wrong every single time. She gave her order in plain English, which they understood well enough to charge her for her order, and ALWAYS overdid the froth. It had to be on purpose. Well, she’d gotten the one guy fired from this joint; they’d find out she was still around.

The smell of hot coffee hit her chilled nose. Well, anyhow, it would do the job. Chicago in February required regular doses of hot caffeine, no matter how frothy. She gave it a token swirl with the stirrer and then flexed the plastic rod to send it toward the garbage can on the corner.

“Hang on!”

She looked at the bundled people hurrying by. Somebody busy on a call, probably. Her footsteps had brought her closer to the can now, so she swung her hand over the pile of coffee cups, drifted snow, and ketchup packets.

Before she could let go of the plastic stick, she felt it shift a little against her thumb. “No, I meant hang on ta me!”

She raised it to her eyes. The letters that formed the name of the coffee emporium shifted. The voice came from a large O. “Yeah. Me.”

She blinked. “I don’t usually let a coffee stirrer tell me what to do.” Her eyes shifted left and right to see if anybody was watching her conversation with a stick. No one even looked up.

“Don’t talk like a tea drinker,” snarled the stirrer. “I’m Swackit the Enchanted Swizzle.”

Story Comments

Nov 22 - Jennifer Swansen

Ha! Not where I thought it was going! Good Job!

Nov 22 - Kaye George

I love to see justice done! Even if it is via a swizzle stick. Wonderful concept.

Nov 24 - Frances Dunn

This particular mystery, and I truly enjoy most of them, did not hold my attention. I couldn't get into the "swizzle stick."

Dec 1 - Elizabeth Varadan

What a clever twist this was. Enjoyed it.

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