Snakes and Pills

186 - roof

Travis saw her walk in the door, but she didn't notice him at all. The door closed behind her, the wind chime attached to it jangling annoyingly. Trained to the sound like dogs, the employees behind the counter called out in unison, "Welcome to Juicy's!"

Though Carly's entrance had caused their response, it wasn't aimed directly at her. She stood still near the door, dumbfounded about what to do. Travis debated doing something to get her attention, like waving his hands. But the mere thought of drawing anyone's attention these days sent a shiver down his spine.

Instead, he resolved to stand up from his cozy corner seat and go over to her. Before he could put his plan into action, an employee finally acknowledged her presence directly. "Good afternoon, ma'am. What can I get for you today?"

Carly furrowed her brow as she looked up at the illuminated signboard above the juice jockey. "Oh, jeez. I don't know. I haven't been here for such a long time."

"Well, right now we have a special chai fusion available, and the ChocoCharge-o is twenty percent off this afternoon. Personally, I recommend..."

"I just need a minute to, uh, take it all in," Carly interrupted him mid-pitch.

"Of course. Just let me know when you're ready or if you have any questions," the clerk smiled, not having lost an ounce of his pep despite being cut off.

She nodded in understanding, and as the clerk occupied himself with other tasks, Travis finally popped up alongside her. "Hey," he nervously interjected to get her attention.

Carly's reaction to his voice was nonchalant, but when she turned to greet the face that accompanied it, her own face suddenly carried a look of shock.

"Is that really you?" she asked him, though she clearly meant it rhetorically, especially as she got a better look at his face and found points of recognition.

"Yeah, it's me," Travis answered. "What are you ordering? It's on me."

A few minutes elapsed as Carly made her decision and then answered the myriad questions the juice jockey threw her way about the preparation of her drink. Travis tossed a few crumpled bills across the counter when she had her assembled drink in hand. When the words "keep the change" rolled off his tongue, the employee's happiness and enthusiasm somehow increased to levels previously thought impossible by modern man.

"Thank you, and enjoy your Juicy juice!" he beamed from behind the counter as the duo retreated to the corner table Travis had previously occupied by himself.

Carly took a few sips of her Mangorgasm as Travis sat quietly across from her. "So, how is it?" he asked her.

"Fine," she answered, "falls a bit short of its advertised name, but that hardly surprises me. So, what's with the look?"

"Isn't it obvious?" he replied, nervously pawing at his ragged beard. "Just trying to be unrecognizable. I'm tired of not being able to walk down the street without someone being like, 'Hey, aren't you that guy?!'"

"Does it work?" she asked, taking another slow sip.

"It helps, but people still notice me all the time. That's why I avoid being in public as much as possible, and when I have to go out, I hide off the beaten path."

"I guess that explains the juice bar," Carly surmised.

"Places like this haven't been popular for at least a decade, so I figured no one with an awareness of popular culture or current events would stumble upon me here," Travis said, a weary smile showing through his facial hair.

"So how much longer until the heat dies off, you think?" she asked.


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