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The Tinkered Mind
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March 22nd, 2020
Lucilius was enjoying a particularly lovely stretch of his life when he spent every morning reading at a coffee shop. He’d fallen into the routine and found that he looked forward to the habit even when he had a particularly difficult book on the chopping block. He was in the middle of one of these weighty philosophical works when the normal sounds of the coffee shop were pierced. The light chatter, the clack of dishes, the rush of steam wands and groaning espressos suddenly fell mute to the yelling of the shop owner who was frantically pointing at the door.
Lucilius looked up to see a young man in baggy clothes fleeing the shop, an orange backpack half slung on a shoulder and his arms clutching a bundle of juice bottles to his chest.
The thief was gone before anyone could really react. The shop owner muttered curses as he went into a back room, and quickly the normal noise of the joint came back up to it’s cozy volume.
This happened again a week later. Like everyone else, Lucilius didn’t notice until the thief was practically gone, and this time, the owner’s cursing was less restrained, his characterization of the young man growing harsh and honest. But nothing was really to be done. The police wouldn’t do anything over bottles of juice.
Some days later, Lucilius was again enjoying his morning routine, engrossed in a book when his attention was unusually caught. In the hard periphery of his vision he recognized a movement, a certain haste, a rhythm of action. He looked up from his book to see the same young man, the thief opening the door. The young man quickly went to the open display and swiftly scooped up half a dozen bottles of expensive hand pressed juices. But when he turned to run back out the door, Lucilius was standing in front of the door.
“Hi,” Lucilius said.
The young man’s eyes grew wide and frantic filled his face as he quickly looked around for another route of escape.
“If you want those, I’ll pay for them,” Lucilius said.
Even in his high-strung need to flee, this caught the thief strangely unguarded.
“What? Get out of my way!” the young man sneered.
“I just need to see how many you have. What is that? Eight?”
The thief briefly looked down.
“Yea, look like eight,” Lucilius said. “Ok,” and then Lucilius stood aside and opened the door. He took out his wallet and started counting out cash as the young man ran past.
Lucilius went up to the counter where a confused barista and the owner stood. Everyone had watched the scene unfold end everyone in the coffee shop was looking at Lucilius.
“Eight juices? How much that?”
The owner shook his head. “I can’t let you pay for that scum.”
Lucilius’ face grew hard. “Yes you will.” Lucilius looked at the barista who stood before the cash register and his expression threw her into the motions, ringing up a total for him.
“But why? How can you pay for that scum?” The owner pleaded.
Lucilius shrugged as he counted out cash. “Guy clearly needs juice. Certainly needs it way more than I do.”
Lucilius paid for the juices and then went back to his reading.
A week later he was doing the same when a strange feeling overcame him. He looked up from the page and through the window, some distance away from the coffee shop Lucilius saw the same young man. He’d clearly stopped having seen Lucilius through the window. Their eyes met and Lucilius raised his coffee mug, as if to gesture a cheers to him. The young man then quickly turned and walked away.
Lucilius took a sip of the hot and bitter drink. And then he went back to his reading.