Tandy/Alex: the comic book store
[The coffee place was packed out for most of his shift. It was a combination of caffeine deprivation, teenagers free from the constraints of learning institutions and exams, harried commuters and then the typical mid-afternoon hour of infants, and comparative parenting over cappuccino. When Tandy was done, he smelled faintly like ground beans and it clung to stripes that were nondescript, bargain-basement, grocery-store aisle basic over jeans but they finished at his wrists, which was an accomplishment given Tandy loped along the street from coffee to comic book place at six foot three. The comic book store wasn't a religious experience as it had been for his erstwhile roommate, it was comforting. Imagined home-cooking and parental hands that smoothed things that needed smoothing, figuratively speaking, a little apple-pie and blanket forts, if the aforementioned blanket forts involved hiding out from whatever current disaster his mom had brought home, still-drunk.
Tandy carried, delicately so that it didn't spill, a small and overly sweet paper cup for the guy running the show behind the counter. It swung between the arch of his fingers, thumb clamped against the bleed of heat through recycled paper-wax-coating and he even managed to hold the door for the pre-teen skipping out clutching a copy of inadvisably age-inappropriate material which Tandy would have killed to read pre-puberty. Back then, the comic book store guy had been old, heavy-set and prone toward glowering, at least in his reality. The smell of sun-warmed paper, ink and the faintest aroma of shut-in body odor wafted through the open door and Tandy came in and set the paper cup down on the counter. He wasn't an overly expressive guy, but he smiled at the kid behind the counter, who he was reasonably confident was Alex, and indicated the coffee with a low-key flick of fingers.]
I come bearing tribute to guardians of freshly-received comic book stock. Unless you're not Alex. That's Alex's cup. It's on the side. [Which it was. In neat sharpie. 'Alex'.]