Elmer Hayes could smell trouble a mile off, and the man who stormed into the company cafeteria clutching a bagel stank. The man's over gelled hair was slicked back, his teeth were grit, and his tan Dockers had a hole in the knee. Here was a man with an ax to grind.
Elmer decided to get his cup of coffee and get out of the cafeteria as quickly as possible.
The man stormed up to the cafeteria's toaster, which was right next to the coffee pot that Elmer was pouring from. The man popped his bagel into the toaster.
"Mmmmm, I love a toasted bagel," the man said to Elmer.
Elmer nodded in careful agreement.
"Hey!" One of the cafeteria workers yelled. He was a big man dressed in a white t-shirt and a stained apron. On his forearm was the tattoo of an anchor and the words Semper Fi.
The bagel man didn't turn around. Elmer quickly snapped a plastic top onto his paper cup, deciding to forgo sugar and cream today.
"Hey, I've told you before. You can't bring your own bagels in here. You want a toasted bagel, you buy one," the cafeteria worker said.
The man turned around. "I'm not buying one of your stale, over priced bagels!" he yelled at the top of his lungs.
Elmer's path to the register was blocked as the two men closed on each other.
"Then I guess you won't be having a toasted bagel this morning," the cafeteria worker growled.
"Um, excuse me," Elmer said.
"Oh, I'm having a toasted bagel alright," the man replied.
"If you don't mind, I can just scootch around the side here," Elmer pressed himself up against the counter and managed to slip behind the cafeteria worker. He dug fifty cents out of his pocket as he hurried to the register.
The toaster dinged and the bagel popped up.
"You touch that bagel, and I'll break your jaw," warned the cafeteria worker.
"One coffee," Elmer held the two quarters out to the pink haired woman with an eyebrow ring behind the register. The woman didn't reply, her attention focused on the scene playing out behind Elmer.
"Not only am I going to take my bagel. I'm going to put cream cheese on it," the bagel man announced.
"You don't have to take that Jules, slug him!" yelled the cashier.
"It's a small coffee, fifty cents," Elmer said helpfully.
"You're name is Jules? What a woosy name."
Elmer winced when he heard the crack of knuckles on jaw.
"Hang on Jules, I'm coming." The cashier abandoned her post and charged toward the melee.
"I'll just leave this on the register then?" Elmer called. The woman leapt on the bagel man's back as he was kicking a downed Jules. "Yea, I'll just leave it here."
Elmer stacked the quarters on the top of the register and walked out the door.
Encountering one of his coworkers outside he warned, "You may want to come back later. They're having a problem with the bagels."
copyright 2012 John Lance