February 13th – Peach coffee and hazelnut tea
It was the last case of the day.
The magistrate was tired: Stephen Cross had been sitting all day, dealing with the sort of petty nonsense that he always had to put up with. Unpaid parking fines, domestic disputes, shoplifting: the stuff that dreams were made on. Stephen Cross was bored, and tired, and he wanted to go home.
Harry Spain was representing himself. It had seemed straightforward enough at the beginning of the day, when Stephen Cross, J.P. had read through the outlines. An assault in one of the city’s newest coffee shops, plenty of witnesses, a first offence which would probably lead to a fine and a conviction for assault. Probably. But the case had to be hear, and justice, obviously, needed to be seen to be done.
“So, Mr. Spain, in your own words, please.”
“Yes, your honours.”
It was close enough, and close enough to the end of the day not to need any correcting. Stephen Cross looked at the other two magistrates he was sharing the bench with today: a knowing smile passed between them.
“I was in that new café place on the High Street. You know, Better Latte.”
A nod from the bench, and Harry Spain continued.
“I was running late. I wanted a coffee. You know, a coffee. Just a coffee, black, two sugars. Quick and easy, and I’d be on my way.”
An encouraging smile from the coffee-loving bench, and he went on,
“There was some cunt in front of me – ’
Momentarily flustered, Harry Spain dropped his hands to his sides.
“Sorry about the language, Your Honour. Anyway, this guy in front of me, one of those Hipster fuc -”
“Mr Spain – ”
“Sorry. But it wound me up, you see? He was there, in front of me, asking about all these poncey drinks, and I wanted a coffee, and it was getting on, you know? I needed to get to work, and I wanted a coffee, and this – this – gentleman – in front of me was taking an age, with his beard and his checked shirt and his arms all arty tattoos, you know what I mean?”
“I do. Go on.”
“So, anyways, he finally decides on what he’s ordering and he orders, for fuck’s sake, he orders a peach coffee and a hazelnut tea. And, of course, there’s no peach syrup, so the guy has to go and get some, and then he decides he wants it with Soya milk, and he’s all is that skinny? And I’m behind him thinking I just want a coffee, and I need to get to work, and then he asks if the hazelnut tea is from fucking fair trade hazelnuts – sorry about the language, your honours, and when the guy behind the counter says Oh, I’m not sure, sir, I’ll just check, I lost it.”
“And I punched him. In the face. He had it coming.”
Stephen Cross looked at his fellow magistrates, and an almost imperceptible nod passed between them. He reached down under his desk, brought up a thermos flask and unscrewed the lid. Slowly, almost sensuously, he poured himself a cup of coffee. Simple coffee, black and thick and sweet. He brought the metal cup to his lips and sipped with satisfaction.
“Mr. Spain, there is no case to answer. You are free to go. The court is dismissed.”
Inspired by a prompt from here