Starbucks odyssey: drugs, coffee and smooth jazz

"I used to work for a drug dealer,” I heard a voice say behind me.

I nearly whipped my head around but caught myself. The words sucked the sound out of the small coffee shop. It was one of those moments when the music dies, the conversations stop and that one thing you didn’t want anyone to hear slips out.

I was almost positive the voice would disappear now, blend into the background and slip away. Too bad. I wanted to hear more.

“You say those things so loud!” the barista hissed with an uncomfortable laugh as the ambient noise returned. She obviously knew him, but it sounded like she wished she didn’t. 

My back was turned to the two, but I was close enough to hear every word. I tried to twist in my swivel stool to get a better look at them. They were talking in a corner of the restaurant, far from everyone except one kid, swiveling.

“Yeah, well, that’s just what my life was,” the voice continued. “That’s part of my past. That’s who I was. When that’s your life you have to be used to having guns pulled on you, to security searches. Eventually I got involved with the guy who made the heroin down in Mexico.”

My eyes widened. This guy just wouldn’t stop. The music wasn’t masking his voice anymore either. In fact, now he was trying to talk over the music.

I quickly glanced over my shoulder and was able to get a good look at him. Black leather jacket, dark jeans, black beanie, huge earrings that stretched out the lobes of his ears. His story checked out. 

He went on to talk about his trouble with addiction. Pot. Shrooms. Ecstasy. I was frozen, trying to listen without looking like I was listening, cringing every time a new drug popped up. 

But it wasn’t even his crazy story that shocked me. It was his exhibition. He was putting on some sort of twisted show, performing his life’s story to Starbucks branch #682.

Why did he put himself on display like that? I guess it’s good that he wasn’t hiding anything, but he was so blatantly confessing everything. I didn’t get it. Why was he telling her this? Why was he telling all of us this?

He spewed his story on the coffee shop walls. He knew everyone could hear him. He knew everyone could see him. Every aspect of his life was loud.

He kept talking, but I was starting to lose interest. I could almost feel him sense that he was losing his audience.

He was putting on a show. He was trying so hard to be that guy, to wear those clothes, that jewelry. Live that life.

He looked like a bad actor, struggling to play a role.

His story unfolded over the soft jazz playing at the coffee shop. The music was complex and interesting. Subtle yet powerful. Natural. But then again, I couldn’t really even hear it. It was drowning under the story of a real life Jesse Pinkman.

It slipped away, but I was left wanting more. Wanting to hear more. Wanting to know how that story ended.