The Espresso Trade

This is an entry in WOEGMAN’s TTT challenge. The challenge was to write something in an alternate reality in 1000 words or less. This comes in at 994. I hope you enjoy it.


The petals drifted down, coating the pavement with the fragility of spring covering what was left of the evidence. Watching from behind The Times, a grin crept across his granite before he closed up shop and the vid uploaded. Pulling the umbrella down, he packed away his goods and pushed the cart down the path. Another successful experiment filmed in the park.


“Yo boss! Vinny didn’t make checkpoint!” Joe Pettigucci glared at the bridge in Central Park where his muscle should have walked. A chill danced down his neck stiffening his spine. This was the fourth pick up that’d disappeared this week. Soon the boys were gonna take vengeance. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Joe walked the route. He went over Gapstow Bridge by the Pond passing picnics and people just lazing about. The Victorian Gardens were blooming as he continued on around making his way towards East Drive. Vinny would have walked right through here, but there wasn’t even the slightest notion of a man that big along the path.

Making his way to the street, a flurry of pink blossoms circled his legs while the scent of burned coffee wafted around him. As he looked down, a small piece of gold winked up from a small pile of ashes. Kneeling, he picked up the crucifix Mama Leo had given Vinny when he joined The Family.

“Gooch, what’cha got there? Anything Cap’d like to see?” Matt, one of the boys in blue, reached over to take the crucifix, but Joe held fast.

“It’s nothin’, just an old crucifix from Mama. Must’a fallen outta my pocket.” Joe put it away before Matt decided to grab for it.

“Cap’s getting worried, Gooch. Don’t like it when Cap’s upset. Things break.”

“We’ll get it to him. Just give us time.”

“24 hours, Gooch, 24 hours.”

Joe waited until Matt was out of hearing. “Boss, gotta make it happen, fast.”


It was almost complete. The tests had gone well. So far the formula disintegrated everything except metal. That wasn’t a loss, just annoying. Social media was running with the videos, swearing they were fake which suited him. A few of the more intelligent were trying to figure out where he was filming, but no one had caught on, yet. When he was ready, he’d make his demands. The Big Apple would either recognize his brilliance or disintegrate.

Pushing his cart down the path, he chose his next site carefully, waiting for one of the “boys” to walk by before he raised his umbrella. He nodded, friendly-like to the joggers and walkers alike until he was ready. It was almost time for the next delivery to be coming through. Looking out beneath his brows, he grinned.


“I’ve got it, boss. It’s in The Briefcase.” Joe picked up the leather coated metal and Kevlar reinforced case. He wound the band around his wrist securing it before setting his shoulders. The route firmly in his head, he started out.

The first checkpoint was by the bridge where he had to pick up a paper, tuck it beneath his arm. Turning to walk past, Joe watched the old man sit down and lay the paper down, discarding it. Picking it up, Joe nodded to the man, then moved on down the path. The key to the document would be in the help wanted section.

The second checkpoint was under the cherry tree as he turned to East Drive. There he was to pick up a specific edition of “Gentleman’s Quarterly” from the vendor before making his way to the street. A small package was stashed within its pages under the guise of a free sample. Once he crossed that street, he’d be home free.

Off to the left of the path, just barely on the pavement was the vendor. It was old Granite face. He got that name when his face hit the granite one too many times leaving pockmarks, permanently. Some say he was a promising chemist years ago that the boys in blue punished for not creating a coffee substitute fast enough.

Who knew? With coffee being on the critically endangered list, it was against international law to harvest the beans, much less brew a cup of joe. Espresso was out of the picture. Starbuck’s died four years ago when the bean crisis first hit. The boys were twitching from the world-wide shortage, willing to pay big for anyone willing to cross the Colombian border to bring some back. Granted having the beans and knowing how to roast ‘em for the perfect brew were two different things. That’s where The Family came into play.

Joe looked over at the vendor. Granite Face reached behind a pile of magazines to pull one out, put it on the side of the rack. Opening up the drinks case, he pulled out a soda and offered to Joe with what he thought was a smile as he came over. With his wallet in hand, Joe paid the man then took the soda and the copy of “Gentleman’s Quarterly” with him. He folded it up with the newspaper before continuing along the route to the drop-off. Every sense on alert. Walking the walk of beans was risky. Too many unreformed coffee junkies waiting for a chance.

But junkies weren’t the problem this time, it was something else, something sinister that was hitting only The Family, but that would have to wait. The delivery was first or their credibility was gonna suffer. Joe stuck the coke in his pocket for later as he left the park and strode to the waiting car. Getting in, he handed over the paperwork that had directions for the perfect brewing machine plus a free sample of the product. Cap stuck his pinky into the rich brown granules and tasted the dark espresso that only The Family could provide, then nodded his head for Joe to hand over the case. One more happy Cop in the Espresso Trade.


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