He brings his own 16 oz coffee mug with him—blue, faded, chipped at the top near the handle—and orders a chai latte to stay, extra foam. Then he goes to his corner table, yes his, everyone here knows it belongs to him, and reads yet another one of his books. Last week it was Siddhartha, this week To Kill A Mockingbird, one of his favorites. I know this not because I’ve asked, but because I’ve seen him read it three separate times now. He reads approximately thirty-five pages in the forty-five minutes that he stays. I’ve counted. The pages and the minutes. He doesn’t even touch his latte until about page twelve when it’s barely stopped steaming. Before he leaves he walks up to the counter and in that voice like the scratch of a needle against vinyl he thanks the cashier for his coffee and orders a scone to go leaving a large tip in the otherwise very empty tip jar. And then he’s gone, and I don’t even know his name. All I know is that he’ll be back again next Thursday with that blue mug, a different book, asking for a chai latte with extra foam.

—m.h.

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