**NSFW, language advisory**
Open inside a typical coffee shop, possibly of a major chain but then perhaps now\t.
The morning rush has died down, but there are still a decent amount of caffeine cravers, time killers and frustrated writers scattered amongst the communal mahogany. In the corner there is a small lounge area consisting of a medium sized rectangular wood table surrounded by several cushioned chairs and an inexplicable beanbag chair. It is in this faux-cozy corner that two women have arrived to meet. Having placed their orders to the smile-free barista, JANESSA, 26, and SUSAN, 32, embrace with a quick hug. They select the cushioned high-back chairs, not affording the beanbag chair even an cursory glance.
Janessa: Oh my God, it’s been way too long.
Susan: I know, ugh, my schedule. Need I say more?
Janessa: Nope, I’m right in the same boat. I’m just glad we had a little time to catch up.
Susan: Exactly. Well, how are you?
Janessa: Doing fine. Still trying to catch up on that show when I have a little down time!
Susan: You know, I haven’t even watched it yet. I hear about it all over the place.
Janessa: Then you probably got the spoiler, right? I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t watch it but I’m still kind of pissed about that cliffhanger ending.
Susan: I guess you can’t please everyone. Those producers and showrunners have a pretty tough job.
Janessa: Well, speaking of work, how’d it going with you? How’s that project you wee working on?
Susan: Oh, I wish I could tell you that it’s been smooth sailing. Let me tell you though, about this little game that Beth has been playing with me.
Janessa: Oh no.. whoops, hold on.
The barista calls out the women’s name and Janessa goes to collect the drinks. Susan absentmindedly picks out her nails while she waits, a dried reddish-brown substance flaking out beneath them. She brushes it off the table as Janessa returns with a simple iced coffee and a whipped cream laden pink and purple frappucino monstrosity. Susan, still picking at her nails, sip the sugar bomb and frowns as whipped cream unexpectedly paints her nose.
Susan: Ugh! I got yours by mistake. How much sugar is in this?!
Janessa: As much as I need to get through the graveyard shift later tonight.
Susan: That’s not very healthy.
Janessa: Oh, you’re one to talk
She pantomimes smoking a cigarette with the long, orange straw resting in her drink. Susan smirks as she swaps the drinks back to their respective owners.
Susan: Hey, I’m down to half a pack a day. Besides, they work well on the clients.
Janessa: Especially when lit.
Susan (emphasizing): ESPECIALLY when lit!
She pantomimes pressing a cigarette downwards. The two women giggle and sip their drinks, pausing a moment to take in their surroundings. Susan takes a long look at the barista, sullenly rearranging the edible cookie straws at the register.
Susan: Hey what about her? That purple hair of hers, it would go well with red, don’t you think?
Janessa: No talking shop while we’re here remember? Only catch up time and shit talking time. And speaking of, what about Beth?
Susan: Oh yeah. So, I clock in the other day and I go back to resume my project with that European client, right? And what do I see? Beth poaching my client, finishing up my scheduled appointment!
Susan: Yup. That was going to be a big payday too, we had set up the appointment a month in advance and I had it all planned out. I even ordered those beautiful stainless steel shears from Japan.
Janessa: You mean the Tameshigiri shears?!
Susan: The very same. I was so disappointed. It’s supposed to be super stain proof, no more messy clean ups.
Janessa nods and takes a sip of her drink.
Susan: Anyway, she’s standing there acting all innocent in that damned monogrammed smock, the one with the embroided B and the kittens.
Janessa: Ugh, I hate that thing. We should burn it. Preferably while she’s wearing it.
Susan: Right?! Well, I have to confess..I kind of beat you to the punch on that.
Janessa: How so?
Susan decides to try her own hand at pantomime and makes a “snip-snip” motion with her fingers. Janessa nearly chokes on her coffee.
Janessa: Really?! Don’t tell me, with the Tameshigiri!
Susan: Oh yeah. Worked like a charm, like a proverbial hot blade through butter.
Janessa: And how was clean up?
Susan: Just hosed it right off!
Janessa: Did Talia find out?
Susan (scoffs): Yes and of course she reprimanded me for it. I explained to her that Beth had breached a code of conduct and while Talia respected my plight, she also said that Beth was one of our top earners.
Janessa: Well, you can’t be too far behind. Can’t say I’m going to miss the bitch.
Susan dismisses the whole thing with a wave of her hand.
Susan: Water under the bridge. But I’ve been blabbing, how about you?
Janessa: Well, I’ve got that big top secret project I’ve been working on.
Susan: Ooh, yeah, I remember hearing something about that. You’re using it to show the new girl the ropes, I hear?
Susan: That’s so sweet of you. Are you sworn to secrecy or – ?
Janessa glances around in exaggerated manner, as if to check for eavesdroppers. Susan gets a chuckle out of this.
Janessa: Sorry, can’t tell you.
Susan glances back at the barista again. The young woman in the orange apron is taking an order but Susan notices something odd about her demeanor.
Janessa: What is it?
Susan: I’ve been thinking, that girl over there..
Janessa: I thought we said –
Susan: I know but…at first I thought she’d make a good client but now…just watching her, the way she looks at her customers. I can sense it.
Janessa: Sense what?
Susan: That underlying yearning. For something…exciting. She has that look in her eyes.
Janessa: What, you want to recruit her?
Susan: I’m thinking, maybe. Yeah.
Janessa: I’ll trust your judgement. You’ve been doing this longer than me. Besides, we need some more fresh blood after you getting rid of your own competition.
Susan (distracted): Had it coming…
Janessa: Oh I know. By the way, my new secret client is a FAMOUS MOVIE STAR.
She intentionally spoke louder than she should have. Susan paid her no heed, rather she continued to scope out her quarry.
Susan: I’m going to give her my card. Right before we leave.
Janessa: He’s very famous. He’s from that show about the Knights of the Round Table or whatever. I know you have a crush on him. I’ll let you have first cut and a free bite, right after I take out the eyes.
Susan (turning back towards her): Huh? Eyes?
Janessa: Yeah, I need to live up to my new moniker, “The Beholder”. I’m trying to brand myself. What do you think?
Susan gazes off, as if thinking deeply.
Janessa: Oh, never mind.
Susan reaches out to grasp her friend and coworker’s hand. She smiles gently, exposing well worn, jagged teeth.
Susan: I’m sorry. I know we don’t get out much.
Janessa: It’s OK. I know how much work can consume you. Or is it you doing the consuming?
Susan rolls her eyes
Susan: Oh ha ha. That’s another habit I’m trying to kick. You know how Talia doesn’t like any unauthorized nibbles.
Janessa: And yet she can have a five star banquet with a quartet of drunken businessmen and not save any for us.
Susan: You’ve got to climb that corporate ladder to get those perks, sister.
Janessa: Don’t I know it.
Susan: Tell you what, why don’t you come over for dinner next week? Jack and I would love to have you. We’ve got this wonderful Greek couple we’ve had our eyes on and there’s no way we can finish it all ourselves.
Janessa: I’d hate to be third wheel.
Susan: You don’t have to! Bring the new girl! What’s her name?
Janessa: I think it’s like Daria or something similar. No, wait, Daedra.
Susan: How exotic. She has potential?
Janessa: Yeah, I think so. She seems to have gone through some stuff lately but seems eager to try out these special “skills” she keeps talking about.
Susan: Hopefully she’s not just all talk. But, you’ll come? Please? Jack would love to see you again too.
Janessa: Of course I’ll come. Maybe next time I can bring a mate of my own along.
Susan: Come now, pretty little thing like you? Who could resist?
Janessa: If I’m doing my job right, nobody!
The two giggle as Janessa licks her jagged teeth and flashes a brilliant violet hue from her eyes. The two stand up to leave.
Susan: Don’t do that in public, Janessa!
Janessa: Come on, Susan, these people are so zoned out, they wouldn’t notice if I flashed them.
Susan: Prove it.
Janessa: Really? Fine, then!
She gazes around the cafe for a second and selects a young man seated at the window, typing away at his phone. Janessa approaches him and, without saying a word, lowers the shoulder of her blue blouse. A jagged, brown, spiky protuberance extends from her shoulder and she waves it around in mocking fashion. With a SCHLUP sound, the spike withdraws into her flesh. The young man gazes upwards for a second, eyes glazed over with disinterest. Janessa rests her hands on her hips and gives him a once over.
Janessa: Nope, too easy. I like a challenge.
Susan slaps Janessa on the shoulder, causing her to flinch.
Susan: You’re such a bitch.
Janessa: You just watch it. You don’t pick up the pace with your kill count, I’ll be THE bitch.
Susan smirks as Janessa heads towards the door, still carrying her drink. Susan makes a 180 turn and heads back to towards the sales counter. The apathetic barista has moved on to cleaning out a blender and Susan CLEARS HER THROAT to get her attention. The barista approaches without a word or greeting. Equally silent, Susan produces a business card and hands it to the woman.
Susan: Call me. I have such sights to show you.
She heads to the door as the puzzled barista turns over the card.
It is pure black with embossed red lettering. A red hourglass shape is set off to the left with a horizontal line bisecting it at the most narrow part.
EST. A LONG FUCKING TIME AGO
TALIA KANDISHA, FOUNDER AND PROPRIETOR
Below that, an address.
The young woman watches the two as they leave. She slips the card into her apron pocket and resumes cleaning the blender.
A gentleman opens the door for Janessa and Susan.
Susan: Thank you, kind sir.
She curtsies in an exaggerated manner.
Exit to City Street – Day
Janessa: So where’d you stash Beth? I’m famished and this damn sugary beast of a drink isn’t helping.
Susan: Ness, that’s really gross.
Janessa: Oh come on, you mean you didn’t have a sample? I bet you didn’t hose those shears off. You probably licked them.
Susan: Well, yeah, but –
Janessa: HA! I knew it! How’d she taste?
Susan: Oh come on –
Janessa: No, really I want to know!
The two friends continue to chat as they head onwards down the street. A busy day lie ahead, but they both faced it with confidence, knowing that they were excelling at their jobs and that they had the companionship of each other, two undying friends with limitless potential and possibility.