Coffeehouse Collections: Ep 2
Social Coffeehouse and Cocktail Bar
Friends, coffee-drinkers, lend me your ears. It is time for another Coffeehouse Collection story!
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I visited the ever-so-favorite coffeehouse and bar, Social Coffeehouse and Cocktail Bar in Leonardtown, MD! Whenever my fiance, family, or friends and I visit good old Leo Town, we have to stop into Social. It is a must and always delicious. It is also the perfect spot to pet passerby dogs if you are chillin’ like a villain. My favorite dog I have met has been a chocolate lab puppy named Arthur (if you or your owner is reading this to you, hi Arthur!) and a golden retriever that goes by Muffins (hello, Muffins!)
Social was such a perfect spot to write a tale for you all today, as it is a hive or heart for Leonardtown, terminating warmth and charm for the rest of our trip. So, without further ado, a story for you entitled Ghost Dog, enjoy!
Luna Jean stared past her coffee machine as it brewed her fuel for the day. She looked out the kitchen window at the golden fields that bordered her house, now marred and brown from the grayness of rain.
The sky was locked shut with dimpled clouds, threaded with white whisps of their bodies. Luna Jean imagined them all mourning in a cluster. No thunder, no lightning, just sorrow and coldness.
Luna Jean stirred in her stance. The muscles around her knees knitted tight around the bone. She massaged the stitch, sighed between her teeth, collected her mug, and brought it to her mouth, letting the scents fill her brain. She closed her eyes and tipped the lip, letting the liquid spill, and pepper bitterness into her mouth.
She sighed, relaxed her shoulders and held the mug to her chest. She exhaled, imagining the coffee gave her something, power maybe, and she could now breathe fire.
A branch popped. Luna Jean opened her eyes. Luna Jean locked into place. Her hands pressed against the glass of her mug. The bronzed field rippled in the rain. She scanned the field. Her jaws linked together.
White broke through the stalks. The body shifted through the field. Luna Jean saw the stalks wilt under the pressure of weight. She furrowed her eyebrow. She exhaled through her nose. She looked to her left. The old bat was still by the front door. She looked up at the field. She sipped her coffee. The white body shifted, wading through the field.
“Go away,” she whispered. She glared at the field over the brim of her mug.
Across the sink from the coffee machine, she saw the radio, silver, silent, under the chipped cabinet where she stored her hand-me-down china plates.
We need to make a map, Woodi had said. Luna Jean rubbed her lips together. Woodi had looked through her. Blood was smeared over both of them; in swatches across their foreheads, threaded into their clothes.
Luna Jean, Woodi had said. Luna Jean looked at her. Do you understand?
Their breath was still heavy from the fight; a dead monster was lying in the grass near them, blood dripping from its open mouth, black eyes staring at the sky. Woodi had the bat in her hand. She had delivered the only blows.
I do, Luna Jean had said. Woodi nodded, looking at the cat-like creature laying by them, her jaw tight.
The radio only spat static. Not her voice. What if?
A whine creaked through the rain. Luna Jean looked to see the face of a dog break through the wisps of field. It had different eyes; one pale, other gold, and it looked at her, then it crumbled, like paper in rain, and sealed to the mud.
Coffee wavered at the cusp of the mug. Luna Jean’s nails perched on the porcelain of her glass. She looked at the radio, silent and silver, only static on the counter. She looked at the dog. The rain beat down onto it, exposing a bony frame.
“Oh no,” Luna Jean whispered. She ran past the bat out the door, into the rain, down the chipped steps, to the dog.
“Please, please, please,” she whispered with every step she took. Grass twisted in between her toes. Earth plated her bare feet. Rain seeped into her skin. She sputtered. Her throat filling with water. She shifted. She shook her head, looked for the white body, then resumed running until she stood over it.
It was so still, the dog. Tears brimmed Luna Jean’s eyes. She swallowed. She flexed her hands. The dog didn’t move.
“Please, don’t be dead,” Luna Jean said.
Muscles rolled under the fur of the dog. A corner of its mouth pulled. A whine escaped its lips.
Luna Jean clapped a hand over her heart and exhaled. She looked around. The grass waved against the current of winds. The trees swayed this way and that in the distance.
The dog whimpered.
Luna Jean placed a hand on its head. It shifted, pressing its head against her palm. Her stomach twisted into her ribs. She combed through the ruffled hair of the dog’s throat. Its pulse ticked under her hands.
Her voice was small as she said, “Where did you come from, boy?”
The dog opened an eye, blue like a robin’s egg. No pupil. Luna Jean gasped. Her fingers held the dog’s scruff.
“You are blind,” she said.
A golden eye opened. The dog sighed. The eyes rolled back into his skull. He exhaled, pressing flatter onto the ground.
“Don’t worry,” Luna Jean said.
A grit of mud scaled across her skin as she hooked her arms around the dog. She stood, allowing his body to wilt in the crook of her arms. She smiled down at him.
“I’ll heal you up,” she said. She looked out at the field again, the strands of gold and bronze almost tall as her, sharp against the rain, as if yellowed teeth bared to her, to the dog, who broke through its mouth.
“You’re lucky that I’m starting to understand Nan’s notes,” Luna Jean said. She dripped as she ticked her fingers through the shelves of cookbooks. The dog laid on the island countertop. A blanket draped over him as he slept. Luna Jean could hear the rasp of its breath as she wandered over the titles in her collection.
“They always said Nan’s a witch.. let’s see,” Luna Jean said.
Her eyes passed over the pasta books. The scent of salt water and boiling grain-filled her brain. She could taste Dad’s cooking. She could hear Mom laughing in the dining room as they set up for dinner. She saw Nan looking out the window, her eyes past what Luna Jean could see.
“There you are,” Luna Jean whispered.
Between the shadows of the cocktail concoction books, she could make out the frayed bristles of Nan’s notebook. She pinched a portion of the vertebrae and pried it from the gravity of the larger books until it was in her palms.
The cover was veined by misfolded pages, and parts of the letters faded from the frame. Luna Jean traced over the symbol in the center, so faint, the ink now tick marks, she wandered across the arc of rams horns, the thorns corded around it, and their name, Dyer, penned so carefully under their ram, as if worried it would scare their mark away.
Nan-nan, why is our sign a ram? Luna Jean’s plump hands draped over the cover. Her eyebrows furrowed at the book cover. Nan hummed near her. The scent of broken rosemary rose in the air.
Do you not like the ram, Luna Jean?
It just looks angry. Is it hurting?
The thorns, Nan-nan. They are hurting it.
Nan came behind Luna Jean. She hummed and plated her hands around Luna Jean’s shoulders. Luna Jean melded into her, one eye on the entangled ram. It looked at the girl, head raised with thorns plunged in the treads of its horns.
Not in pain, baby, look. The manicured nails of Nan’s fingers etched out the briars and the horns in a swift movement. He is wearing the thorns.
Luna Jean shifted to look at the cover. Wearing them, Nan-nan?
Mhm, he is wearing it. He isn’t in pain. He is protecting.
Luna Jean wandered into the kitchen. Her eyes studied the book cover. The dog raised its head to Luna Jean; the tendons on its neck trembled as it sniffed the air between them.
“Don’t,” she said. She padded to him and pet his head. The dog sniffed her palm. His tongue, so pink, as to lick her skin before he reclined on the counter and sighed.
“So weak,” she exhaled. “But I didn’t see any lacerations.”
She exchanged the blanket for a standby towel and tucked the fabric under his frame. The dog didn’t move. Luna Jean gave him one more glance before she broke open the notebook on the counter's edge.
She tossed one page to the next, past cures for love spells (jalapeno, wasp paper, raspberry), headaches (lemon, olive oil, coffee), and poisons, until she found an ingredient to aid exhaustion.
“For an exhausted party member either tired from a quest or a fight, use this list, and it will aid to heal from plight, rose petal, lemon, lime and pear, these are the things that will help invisible tears, chamomile, eggshell and barley, your friend will be healed in a hurry,”
“She must have been a witch. That was just awful,” Luna Jean muttered.
Static spat. The dog jolted. Luna Jean turned to the radio. It hissed again.
“Luna… Luna… do you hear me… ? …Bine… Woo…bi,”
“Oh no,” whispered Luna Jean. Her heels hammered into the floor as she padded over to the radio.
“Lun.. a…… a demon…coming,”
Luna Jean pressed her head to the mesh of the radio.
“Nonononono,” she whispered.
Woodbine’s voice thundered against her skull, burrowing into her ears. Luna Jean pressed her forehead against the plastic. She clenched her nails into the gap of buttons. Her throat burned as she swallowed salt. Her face washed over with it.
“Luna… Luna Je…an they are coming,” Woodbine said.
Luna Jean looked past the radio and out at the field. The bronze grass bent in angular ways. Luna Jean’s chest tightened. The salt spread through her ribs. She imagined the crystals sealing over her heart.
The field broke apart around emptiness. She saw branches break under the pressure of living but didn’t see the owner.
Luna Jean closed her eyes.
She pressed a button.
“I am so sorry, Woodi,” she said.
Wood creaked. Thunder growled in her house.
Luna Jean pressed her head against plastic. She sealed her eyes shut. The floorboards shifted under the weight of them. A growl cracked in the air. Luna Jean felt her body shudder, unthether, the radio exempt. The plastic scaled against her skull as she pressed against the body of the silent machine.
Wood crackled. She felt it under her feet.
A snarl rattled against Luna Jean’s calves.
“God please,” Luna Jean breathed.
She felt the coolness of the demon’s shadow encompass her legs, back, shoulders, head. A metallic clatter rumbled in the kitchen. Luna Jean opened an eye to see the skull capped face of a bear appear in the window. Woodbine tore through its golden hair, her eyes wide as she ran for Luna Jean, through the rain, but the demon still stood over Luna Jean.
It opened its mouth, the translucent teeth hovered over Luna Jean as it snarled.
Woodi cried, “Luna Jean!”
Luna Jean closed her eyes. She dropped to her knees and pressed against the radio.
“I am so sorry, I am so sorry,” she said in the midst of the demon’s thunder.
The door slammed against the wall.
Woodbine screamed out.
Thunder roared over Luna Jean, over the demon as it bellowed out.
The shadow pulled away.
Wood broke under weight.
Splinters sheered the air.
Rain pounded against the rooftop.
Plastic rattled in Luna Jean’s ear.
A hand rested on her shoulder.
“Luna Jean,” Woodbine said.
Luna Jean looked up at her. Woodbine studied her face, then gazed past her, toward the island of the kitchen.
The rain bristled neck of the demon hung in the jaws of the dog, its maw open from its last breath. Black blood pooled around the body. The air filled with iron.
The dog stood braced over the broken boards, the open throat in its mouth. The dog’s face was twisted in the ways of feral things. The milky blue eye now had a thin pupil that glared through with the simple gold one as it studied for another demon.
Woodbine passed in front of Luna Jean. She pulled out a knife from her scabbard.
Woodbine said, “What is this thing?”
Luna Jean rolled onto all fours. The dog met her gaze. She froze. The dog snarled, its ruff still high, still so small compared to the felled demon that laid limp on the kitchen floor. The pupil of the milky eye, so black and sharp, like a dagger in the night, faded away into the vapors of blind blue.
“He has a ghost eye,” whispered Luna Jean.
Rare things, ghost eyes are, but when you find someone who owns one, well, you make them a friend. Nan had said.
“Luna Jean,” Woodbine said. Her jaw was clenched. Sweat was on her forehead, in between her furrowed eyebrows. She nodded to the dog. “What is it?”
The dog’s body relaxed. The head of the bear-headed demon dipped. The white scruff of the dog softened. He withdrew from the demon, and watched as the creature lay and stepped over it’s kill, one leg at a time, it’s different colored eyes on Luna Jean.
Woodbine pressed against her side. Luna Jean grasped her arm. The dog sat before Luna Jean, it’s golden eye shining brightly onto her. He shifted in his position, to puff out his chest.
Luna Jean exhaled. She felt Woodbine’s eyes turn on her.
“My dog,” Luna Jean said.
Out the window, she saw them, their boiled bodies breaking out from the shadows of the woods that embanked her house. They padded toward her house, hunched over, their scarred backs ignited by the sunset. Golden eyes glared at Nan through her kitchen window. They flexed their hands, drawing their talons. Some licked their teeth.
Hot breath pressed against her palm. She saw the dog shifting in her grip, her fingers closing his muzzle shut. His scruff bristled. The cat-like pupil of his ghost eye was exposed through the milky blue.
“Alright,” Nan whispered to herself.
She perched onto her knees. The dog’s snarl eclipsed her hands. The ghost eyes search for the demons to enter the home.
Nan scratched behind his ears. She clicked her tongue. The dog looked at Nan, his body still tense. Brick thundered against the weight of monsters as they pushed against her Nan’s barricade spells.
Nan said, “You’ll find her, won’t you, Wick?”
Wick stepped against Nan, and burrowed his forehead against her lips. She closed her eyes and imprinted one, then another, and another.
When she fell and skinned her knee on the stone. When she would fuss about being sick. When she cut her hands foraging.
Nan exhaled. She pulled away to see Wick with his tear-slicked head.
“Go,” she said.
He backed away from Nan. He lowered his ears. Glass clattered. Wick shifted. He looked at Nan. Nan never looked away from him. Not as her world closed in. She looked at Wick, a light that would tear the earth for her Luna Jean.
“Goodbye, you good boy,” Nan whispered, etched in tears.
Wick broke away and pounced through the glass. Growls and snarls broke as demons reached for the dog, only to gnash each other.
Nan closed her eyes as the world pushed farther in.
Yes, Luna Jean?
Does pro-protecting hurt?
No, baby, it will never hurt to protect those you love.
The grumble of stone, the windows crumbling and the growling, washing over her, into the end of Nan, and she smiled as they came down with her.
Thank you so much for tuning into to this installment of Coffeehouse Collection! Please comment below what you drank you enjoyed while reading this story!
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