Comedy
Happless vicitim of life Joseph Whynee is in his mid fifties, divorced, retrenched and searching for a place to live. He thinks that all of his troubles are solved when he wins a luxury condominium in an exclusive development.
But trying to live the high-life comes with hilarious pitfalls that he could never have imagined.
Currently searching for a publisher. 
88,000 words across 44 chapters.
Comedy

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 3

Choose Your Coffee Provider with Care

Joseph strolled into the café without taking note of its name and surveyed the scene. It was small, consisting of an inside section with rustic looking tables and chairs. There were a couple of tables out the front pavement section. And a courtyard could be seen through a single door, that led past the washroom.  No doubt there was a kitchen somewhere at the back, possibly behind the washroom. A lone operator stood behind the coffee machine which formed part of the front counter. A sign could be seen clearly displaying the procedure for ordering in the café.

ORDER AND PAY AT THE COUNTER BEFORE BEING SEATED.

Dutifully, Joseph stepped forward and greeted the barista.

“Hello. May I have a strong café latte and……….” He trailed off now perusing the blackboard that was on the wall behind the man. He studied it and was left somewhat confounded by the descriptions of the food available.

It seemed to be a mishmash of Thai, and traditional café style food. But he was unsure of what some of the ingredients were. It all seemed to be very vegetarian. Not something that Joseph objected to, but he could really do with a burger, he thought.

“If you can’t see anything there that takes your fancy, I can have our chef whip something up for you. He’s a completely certified macro-biotic-vegan-practicing chef.” Offered the barista.

“A what?” queried Joseph, confused by the number of the adjectives prior to the title of chef.

“What would you really like to have today?” asked the barista.

“How about a chicken burger?” answered Joseph.

“No problem. One TVP burger coming up!” exclaimed the barista.

“Tee,Vee, Pee?” said Joseph his inflection becoming higher as he progressed through the acronym.

“Textured Vegetable Protein” replied the barista “You won’t be able to tell the difference between it and chicken. But no cute little bird must die in order to feed you. Isn’t that fab?!”

The joy on the baristas face was a little infectious. It went some way toward ameliorating Joseph’s concern about the meal that he had just ordered.

“What kind of milk would you like in your latte?” inquired the barista.

“Just regular milk please” replied Joseph.

The barista shook his head and gave Joseph a look like a teacher admonishing a pupil for bad behaviour.  He pointed at the secondary board beside the food menu. This one listed all the different types of coffee and an even longer list of milk substitutes that could be used to make them.  At the top of the list was a sign that left Joseph in no doubt that he could not simply have regular milk.

COW’S MILK IS FOR BABY COWS; DON’T STEAL IT FROM THEM!

Joseph was astounded at the length and complexity of the list. He looked at the barista with a mixture of amazement and confusion. Perhaps choosing this particular café may not result in the satisfying experience that he had assumed. He looked out the window across the road to the competition. From here he could see the barista serving a coffee to a waiting patron. The baristas in both cafes had the obligatory man-bun, sleeve tattooed forearm and lengthy beard. Yet Joseph had managed to find the one that was a militant vegan, through and through.

There was almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, and a plethora of others that he had not even heard of.

“Isn’t calling all of these milk a furphy, though?” stated Joseph. “Afterall you can’t milk a soybean? And how about the ethical objections to stealing milk from baby almonds? Am I right?”

His assertions had the opposite effect of amusing the barista, who gave him a snide, harrumph in reply.

“Tell you what” said the barista after a short pause. “If you can’t decide, I can give you the closest approximation. Something to fool your tastebuds and not offend my vegan principles. What do you reckon?”

It seemed like a reasonable thing to do. There certainly was no specific objection that Joseph could think of that would get him out of the situation. So, he agreed.

“Good show!” Said the Barista.

As Joseph was paying for the meal, a rather mangy looking dog ambled into the café. It was medium sized and rather scrappy looking. Perhaps a cross between a blue-healer cattle dog and a Staffordshire terrier.

“Hey there Joseph”. Said the barista.

“How do you know my name?” Asked Joseph.

“I was speaking to the dog. He wanders around here. Spends some time in my café. Has a sleep in the courtyard and then disappears? I assume that he belongs to somebody around here. He has a collar and a nametag – Joseph.”

Joseph was enlightened by the explanation.

“Well, he’s got a good name” said Joseph of his canine counterpart.

He went to choose a table in the courtyard out back. The dog followed. The courtyard was completely enclosed with other 1950’s or 1960’s buildings to each side and the back. Blond brick structures with aluminium sliding windows. And exterior waste pipes coming through and down the walls, usually from the area below the frosted glassed windows, indicating that it must have been from the apartment’s bathrooms. Not exceptionally beautiful, as far as courtyards go, but nevertheless, it was shaded from the harsh summer sun. Joseph settled into a chair with a matching table. It looked to him like something cheap from a mass-market Swedish furniture manufacturer.

As he waited for his fake chicken burger and dubious café latte, Joseph browsed his phone hoping for any word from any of the leasing agents that he had met today. There was nothing via text nor email to give him a glimmer of hope that his housing crisis would be sorted anytime soon. The dog settled down at Joseph’s feet, contented to be with company.

It wasn’t long before the Barista delivered the café latte to Joseph’s table. The barista announcing proudly exactly the type of coffee that Joseph had ended up with.

“One thick rice milk café latte topped with an oat milk foam” he declared and waited for a reaction from Joseph.

“Sounds good” replied Joseph hoping desperately that he was getting away with his blatant lie.

“Excellent” said the barista and disappeared back inside.

Joseph gave the coffee a distrustful look and then elected to continue surfing the internet on his phone whilst the burger was prepared. Eventually, the barista then delivered the Textured Vegetable Protein ‘chicken’ burger.

“Let me know what you think” said the barista as he delivered the burger with a flourish before disappearing inside once more.

Joseph regarded the burger with some suspicion. He leant forward and gave it a cursory sniff. There was nothing to indicate anything even resembling chicken in its neutral aroma. He decided to deconstruct the burger to see what its constituent components were.

There was the top and bottom of the bun. That seemed to be perfectly normal bread. It would not have any butter or egg in it owing to the vegan leanings of the proprietor. But that could be overlooked. Joseph comforted himself that it would simply be like eating gluten free bread, able to be done if there was nothing better available.

Coleslaw was present for sure. But of course, the mayonnaise would also not have any egg in it. Joseph wondered what vegans used in place of eggs. Perhaps it was something called T.E.S. Textured Egg Simulation. Joseph amused himself with his little parody.

Lettuce and cooked onions made up the remainder of the ingredients other than the TVP. Joseph mused that at least there was nothing in fried onions that a vegan could find offensive. A small victory for common sense, he thought. Lastly, there was a tomato-based relish of some description. Nothing offensive about that he decided.

He reassembled the burger and took a breath. How bad could it be? Scrunching it between his hands he lifted it to his mouth and gingerly took a small bite. It was enough to encompass a small taste of all the burger’s ingredients. The moment his teeth crunched down after the initial bite, the TVP released some of its juice that rolled onto his tongue and then down the back of his throat.

Joseph almost gagged with disgust. It was absolutely VILE!

“Gaarrrgh!” he said as he nearly ejected the entire contents of his mouth onto the table in front of him. Either through instinct or revulsion he dropped the burger back onto the plate. It was taking all of his faculties to cope with not projectile vomiting. He needed something to wash down the hideous-tasting rubbery synthetic chicken patty that was assaulting his taste buds.

Without thinking he reached for the café latte and took a sizeable gulp. It was RANCID! If there was any flavour of coffee in the latte at all, it was totally obscured by the foreign invaders that had kept normal cow’s milk out of the mixture. Joseph felt the world around him shrink as he contemplated choking on the doubly disgusting mess that was in his mouth rather than swallowing it. With a huge effort, and with his eyes bulging out of their sockets, Joseph swallowed the contents in his mouth.

“Blahhhhhhh gggg hhhh ….whyyyy, meeeee!”

He said shaking his head, his tongue hanging out of his mouth in the vague hope that a passing seagull would shit in his mouth to disguise the putrescent taste. ‘How could ANYTHING taste that disgusting?’ he pondered whilst trying to compose himself.

The burger was completely inedible, and the latte undrinkable. What was he to do? What if the barista came out wanting to know how the meal was? He pictured the situation in his mind and contemplated pushing past the fellow and running as fast as he could for the exit. Joseph began to break out in perspiration beads on his forehead.

At least now he knew why meals had to be fully paid for before consumption. There would be no possible way that anybody with a sense of taste would pay good money to feast upon such flavour hideousness.

Looking around Joseph’s mind raced. Maybe he could climb up one of the waste pipes and into a window. If he explained his sudden appearance, perhaps the resident would take pity on him and allow him to exit through their property? There simply was no other way out of the courtyard!

A rustling from below the table reminded him that there was the dog sleeping at his feet. Effectively it was another prisoner here in the courtyard with him. A thought began to solidify in Joseph’s mind. It was just the patty that he could not bear the thought of eating. The bun and the other ingredients could be consumed without gagging for sure.

“Hey boy; want a chicken patty?” he asked of the dog.

Alerted to the potential of food, the dog stirred and sat up in a begging pose. Joseph separated the TVP from the rest of the burger and flipped it to the dog. He rubbed his fingers on the napkin trying desperately to remove any microbes of it from his fingers. The dog caught the ‘treat’ in his mouth and proceeded to gobble it down.

Perfect. Stage one of his plan was completed. The TVP was gone. There was no evidence that he was not the one that ate it. Anyone would rightly assume that he had consumed it. Time to enable stage two of his plan to escape from the café with his dignity intact. Joseph set about eating the palatable components of the Frankenstein chicken burger. He surprised himself with how quickly he got through it. He was really hungry after his day of property hunting.

This left the obvious remaining part of his exit plan staring back at him from the table. The poisonous caffe latte. What was he going to do with that?

He had lifted the noxious mixture to regard it with some further trepidation. Desperately searching the courtyard, he hoped to find a drain or something. He needed to dump the liquid, and quickly. There was nothing. It was concrete in all directions.

He was beginning to panic at the thought of attempting to swallow any more of it when, he heard footsteps coming from within the café. Without thinking, he tossed the entire contents of the glass over his right shoulder. He heard a muffled splash. Hopefully too dull for the approaching barista to register.

Joseph felt the panic begin to rise in him higher. The barista appeared and took note of the empty plate and latte glass sitting on the table before Joseph.

“Looks like you enjoyed those” he observed with a broad smile.

“Sure did” responded Joseph.

It was then that the barista caught sight of the brown liquid.

“What on earth is that?” he said looking behind Joseph.

Joseph turned and took in the sight that beheld him. The rancid coffee had managed to land completely on a sewer waste pipe extruding from one of the flats and was oozing down its length. It looked for all the world like the pipe structure had failed somehow and released the contents of it to the outside world.

“That sewer pipe must have backed-up and cracked somewhere?” said the barista incredulously.

“Oh, is that what that putrid stench is? I was wondering where it was coming from?”  Joseph decided in an instant to support the incorrect assumption made by the barista.

And it was definitely in his best interests to enforce the improper recognition of the oozing fluid. Joseph stood up and seized upon the situation using it as an excuse to exit as quickly as possible.

He was about to make his brief goodbye, when a gagging-coughing could be heard coming from the dog. They both looked down to see what the matter was. The dog began vomiting on the concrete at their feet.

“Dog, what’s the matter?” screeched the barista.

In reply the dog yacked up yet again.

“Must be something he ate” diagnosed Joseph. “I’d better go. Lots to do!”

Joseph said a quick ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ and exited as quickly as he could without seeming like he was in a desperate hurry to get out of there. As he left the café, quickly grabbing a mouthful of water from the jug on the counter, he couldn’t help looking around to take in its signage. Joseph could hardly believe his eyes when he finally registered the name of the establishment.

THE MILITANT VEGAN CAFÉ

It all became immediately and abundantly clear why the café across the road had all the business and this one did not. For the first time since the advent of hipsters, Joseph thought that maybe they could be used as a barometer for where to go and where to avoid.

He was busy contemplating this thought further when a bus could be seen approaching. It was displaying that it was a route toward Coolangatta. This suited Joseph perfectly. He decided to catch it to visit his father in the retirement home down there. Thankfully, he was near enough to the bus stop to wave the driver down.