Black Coffee: A Horror Story
Cassidy knew that with every passing mile, she risked falling asleep at the wheel. The young executive wanted nothing more than to be sitting at home cuddled up with her Pitbull, Baxter, sneaking him little bites of popcorn as she got further into her latest Netflix binge. She would be wearing her fuzzy unicorn pajamas, of course.
Traffic was backed up hours on the Tappan Zee, and Cassidy knew that there was simply no way she would be home before dawn. Cassidy muttered some profanity as she looked at the glowing numbers on her dashboard. She sighed; at this hour, she’d be lucky if she found some old, bitter ice-cold coffee. Cassidy had traveled this route many times before, and she knew that as the sun went down, the beautiful autumn scenery of the Catskills grew more dangerous. Attempting to pull the Jeep over and get a few hours of sleep was not a good idea. At this time of year, anything from falling rocks to snowdrifts could fall off the mountain and bury the Jeep in a matter of moments.
Cassidy was surprised when she spotted a fluorescent sign that read OPEN. She silently gave thanks to every god in the universe as she made her way through the tree groves, where she found what looked to be a small brick building.
A little old lady leaned on the counter, wearing a hairnet that was haphazardly placed over a mess of bleached-blonde hair that looked like a brush could get stuck in it too easily. The lady smiled.
The old woman gestured to a set of two chairs and a dirty table over by a window. The window was coated in a thick layer of dust. The thought of swallowing the dust made Cassidy’s stomach creep into her throat. She yawned so loudly it hurt her jaw.
Cassidy, it was clear, didn’t have a choice but to drink the coffee, no matter how questionable it may be.
“What can I get for you?” the woman said as she struggled to peel apart the pages of her tiny notepad.
“Coffee, black, thanks,” Cassidy said.
“Are you sure?” the waitress frowned. “I’d be happy to get you some pie. We have some very nice strawberry rhubarb pie.”
The old woman gestured to the glass display cases on the counter. The pie in the display case looked very old and very dry.
“Just coffee, black, please,” Cassidy said, mustering her best fake smile.
“Oh crap, all she wants is coffee. That’s all anyone ever wants!” a mysterious voice chimed in from a stool parked at the counter. A dirty looking young man in a tattered leather jacket gave Cassidy a look that would make the devil shit his pants.
“Don’t mind my son, he’s seen some things, dear. The war was hard on all of us.” The old woman attempted to smile at her son. “Kyle, you need to clean the counters for the costumers.”
Kyle rolled his dark green eyes, “Ma, no one is ever here. This place is a waste of time.”
“It’s okay, I get it,” Cassidy said.
A few moments later, the waitress returned with the coffee. The lady bent down to pour the coffee out of the silver pot, and Cassidy finally got a good look at the woman’s face. Cassidy wasn’t sure if the dark circles under her eyes were from lack of sleep or if she had been hit. At this point, Cassidy didn’t think she would sleep much; she sure as hell didn’t need the coffee.
Cassidy grabbed her purse. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the sad look on the old lady’s face. Cassidy felt sad for them. The sorry state of the place, she thought, had to mean the family had fallen on hard times. Cassidy nonchalantly took a hundred dollar bill out of her wallet and placed it on the table with a note, the simply said, “Thank you.”
With an odd mixture of heebie-jeebies and feeling really good about herself, Cassady drove home without incident.
Cassidy awoke from a sleep that was uncomfortable, to say the least. Every time she shut her eyes, she saw the people she encountered that night at the diner. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more she could do for those sad people.
While she sipped her morning coffee, she hopped on Google and began to search “50s diners in upstate NY.” The first article that popped up seemed fictional. It was an account told by a college student. The Halloween edition of The Star-Times released the story, which made her heart skip a beat.
A young boy, who was coming upstate for college, was traveling from the city and stopped at what he believed was a 50s-themed diner. The place, the article said, seemed to be ramshackle, and the food outdated. The customer named Bill went back to the diner the next day to retrieve the wallet he left behind and found nothing but an old building in ruins. Bill thought he might have been robbed or he might have stumbled across some human trafficking scheme, so he made a police report. Bill talked to a police officer, whom he learned was close to retirement. Through tears, the officer said he had responded to a call at the police station many years before with a double suicide. A family, who was down on their luck and struggling to keep their dream of owning a diner afloat, ended it when they couldn’t come up with a way out of financial trouble.
As Cassidy read the poorly written article from one of those sites that specializes in clickbait, it hit her like a ton of bricks. For 30 minutes, Cassidy crossed the line between the living and the dead.