Free Fiction Thursday – For A Few Lattes More

Hey, we’re back on Thursday this week!  How’s everybody doing?  Ready for a free story?

This week’s story is FOR A FEW LATTES MORE, which first appeared in the anthology THE TROUBLE WITH HEROES (Daw, 2009), and which will be appearing shortly in my newest collection, EIGHT FROM THE SILVER STATE.  Enjoy!

For a Few Lattes More

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 Annie Reed


The cowboy parked his horse in the handicap spot in front of Starbucks.

Terri almost dropped the Halloween coffee mug she’d just tagged with a second red clearance sticker.   Ten minutes to closing.  Of course.  The strangest people always came in right before closing.

“You see that?” she asked Leon, who was sweeping the floor on the other side of the clearance display.

Leon craned his neck around a shelf full of travel mugs decorated with glow in the dark ghosts and goblins to look out the plate glass storefront.  “Huh,” he said.  “That’s a new one.”

Terri watched as the cowboy in the battered hat and leather duster got off his horse and wrapped the reins around the freebie community newspaper stand in front of the handicap spot.  The cowboy was tall and thin and wore his hat low over his face.  Thanks to the overhead lights in the strip mall parking lot, he was little more than a silhouette and totally out of place.  Who in his right mind rode a horse in the middle of town?

“He’s really going to leave his horse right there,” Terri said.

“I’m not cleaning up after it,” Leon said.  “No way.  Cleaning the bathrooms is bad enough.”

He had a point.  Picking up horse poo wasn’t in either of their job descriptions.

Terri and Leon saw a lot in the way of weird walk through the doors of this particular Starbucks.  Three blocks from the casinos, liquor stores, tattoo parlors and pawn shops of downtown Reno and a block away from the biggest dorm on the University of Nevada campus, it wasn’t all that unusual to see frat pledges in penguin suits chilling in line next to black leather wearing bikers.  Terri got propositioned by the frat boys on a weekly basis.  The bikers went straight to offering Terri a free peek at tattoos on body parts she didn’t want to think about, much less see.  And that was on a slow night.  Throw in a holiday, like Halloween or New Year’s Eve or the anniversary of Elvis’s death, and anything at all might walk through the door.

(read the rest of the story here)

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