Table of Contents

    Musing: Coffee Break

    This is a horror story. My stomach knots and my hands shake from the grotesque memories. You’ve been warned, so proceed at your own risk.

    Our story began at 5 a.m. one morning last week.

    No, that’s not the horror. For me, that’s a late start to the day. If I can remain blissfully asleep until 5 a.m., I celebrate. The coffee pot is scheduled to brew at that time, in the hopes I don’t need it earlier. It is, after all, easy enough to override the timer and initiate at the touch of a button.

    Anyway, as I was saying, at 5 a.m., I arose, dressed, and slipped from the darkened bedroom. Not a single dog followed. They never do. My morning routine of reading newspapers, articles, and emails is much too mundane for their pleasure.

    I shuffled into my study, flipped on the lights, and said good morning to Ethel—the robot who vacuums my office of dog hair every morning. Wanting to be out of her way while she completes her duties, I grabbed my iPad and headed to the kitchen for my breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.

    Again, a caution for my squeamish fans. Squeeze your eyes closed as you listen to the ominous music growing in the background. Horror awaited in the kitchen.

    I prepared my secret oatmeal recipe (instant oatmeal, water, brown sugar—don’t tell anyone—it’s a secret) and placed the bowl in the microwave. As it cooked, I retrieved a fresh mug from the cabinet, marched over to the coffee maker, grabbed the carafe, and…

    A shriek pierces the gloom of night.

    …stared blankly at the empty, glass container. The precious, life-giving fluid was missing. What we’ve got here is failure to percolate.

    With a deep breath, I replaced the carafe and inspected the machine for clues to the disaster. The digital clock displayed the correct time. The illuminated brew light reported the timer had engaged.

    My hands quivered as I opened the lid to inspect the contents. Coffee grounds awaited moisture to release their magical contents. The tank brimmed with water. The two key ingredients rested in their proper places, but no merger had occurred.

    Confused, I closed the lid and depressed the brew button. The indicator light faded to black. With another push of my finger, the machine clicked, and the light resumed its glow.

    But nothing happened. No steaming water mixed with the grounds and dripped into the carafe. No heat rose from the warming plate.

    Don’t panic, I begged, don’t panic.

    Depress button. Light goes out. Depress again. Light glows. No coffee. Press. Press. Press. Press. With all my might, I mashed the button harder and harder, the same process as if convincing a malfunctioning vending machine to vend. And with the same results.


    Fine, I thought, the time had arrived to escalate matters to the height of my engineering skills. Years of working with finicky computers and advanced technology led me to the obvious solution, the one every help desk attempts.

    I unplugged the machine.

    It went dark. I replugged. The lights flickered to life. I pressed and held the brew button as I uttered a silent prayer. Nothing.

    In sheer desperation, I pulled the plug again and inspected the prongs to see if they had failed in their basic duty. Why they might have morphed into some non-conducting material overnight eluded me. Why I thought enough power seeped through to operate the glowing clock and indicator buttons, but not the brewing mechanism, never occurred to me. In my defense, I remained uncaffeinated.

    When I reinserted the plug and tried again, I was surprised to discover my technical talent had failed to resolve the problem.

    Lost and confused—and still caffeine-less—I realized my quiet morning of reading had slipped away. Ready or not, I would be forced to face the sunrise without coffee.

    Defeated, I trudged up the steps to retrieve the dogs. Yes, the rascals had slept through my crisis. Man’s best friend. Ha!

    As I herded them together for the trip outside, a stirring came from deep within the shadows of the bedroom. My Ever Patient Partner In Life said, “Good morning.”

    And yet, it wasn’t good. It was disastrous. I, much as I hated being the bearer of bad tidings, had a sacred duty to share the horrible news. “The coffee maker died.”

    A gasp was followed by a series of questions. Yes, I had checked coffee grounds, water, power, plug (see!), and timer.

    And then came the question I didn’t expect. The one that demonstrates how lost I would be without EPPIL.

    “Did you use the spare?”

    “Spare? Spare what?”

    “Coffee maker.”

    “Why do we have a spare coffee maker?”

    “In case the regular one dies. Coffee is too important not to have a backup.”

    My mood lifted as I escorted the dogs to the backyard. The first signs of sunshine hinted over the horizon. Birds sang in the trees. A soft breeze rustled the branches. The smell of brewing coffee drifted from the kitchen.

    It was going to be a glorious day!

    Enjoyed the Story? Try a Short Story

    Secrets, passions, and a reunion that changes everything

    Benjamin Walsh sees his wife, Nicole, walking down a city street. With her busy schedule at work, he doesn’t know how she found time to get away, but tries to catch up to say hello.

    To his surprise, she greets an old friend of hers, Eduardo Rivera. Eduardo left town two decades earlier to pursue a theatrical career in New York. What is he doing back?

    Benjamin is shocked when Eduardo and Nicole embrace. They disappear through a door together. With understanding of what is happening, Benjamin realizes he has only one choice.

    Publication Date: February 6, 2024

    Format: E-book (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)

    Pages: 38

    Price: Pay what you want (Minimum 99¢ to cover processing costs)

    On The Website This Week

    Why would I decide on such a simple word for this week’s Spectacular Vernacular? It’s the etymology that caught my attention.

    As an avid early riser, I’m always curious who works early and who prefers late, so I asked my readers whether they were morning people or night owls. The results are in.

    With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I surveyed my readers to ask what the perfect gift is. Please take a moment and record your own answer in this month’s survey.

    Gratuitous Dog Photo: Why Is It Raining?

    Landon without his usual bounce - Why is it raining from Coffee Break
    Landon without his usual bounce

    Landon bounced out the door in his usual manner, but discovered rain still fell from the sky. Even a happy-go-lucky guy like Boom Boom can get a wee bit tired of the cold, dreary, January weather.

    Until Next Monday

    May you wake to fresh coffee each morning this week.

    See you next Monday.

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    1. Susan on January 9, 2023 at 5:08 am

      Oh,the humanity! I hope you thanked your EPPIL profusely for having a spare coffee maker! Once you were caffeinated, that is.

    2. mary michaud on January 9, 2023 at 7:55 am

      I certainly understand the importance of a quiet start to day accompanied by my beloved coffee

    3. Marlene Clark on January 9, 2023 at 11:59 am

      You realize you’ve validated every person who ever has two (or more) of everything, “just in case.” Oh, the cluttered cabinets & closets, waiting for sweet revenge. But that also begs the question: you didn’t know? Which is another topic, entirely. Lol

      • D.K. Wall on January 9, 2023 at 12:22 pm

        I’m fairly sure I operate on a need-to-know basis here. It’s probably better that way.

    4. Juno's mom on January 9, 2023 at 12:49 pm

      That was a horror story!

    5. Debbie & Miss Ruby on January 9, 2023 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for the laughs, you followed all the same steps I did that last time Mr. C decided to call it quits!! Ruby is also tired of the rain in January.. Where is our snow hiding she asks me every morning.

    6. Cheryl Seybert on January 9, 2023 at 3:06 pm

      NOTHING & I do mean NOTHING can compare with a broken coffee pot!! And why can’t they die before coffee is all prepared??? I too have a spare coffee pot because I’m not friendly before coffee!! ???????

    7. Jill Armentrout on January 10, 2023 at 9:27 am

      That was Horror – but I had never thought about a SPARE! Going shopping today!?

    8. JoCindy on January 17, 2023 at 7:24 pm

      I am late to reading this however, I still enjoyed it immensely . Let me say first that I am not a person who drinks coffee or tea for that matter. Never have. While working on my psychology degree, I imagined writing a thesis on people’s “behaviors” around various coffee machines. One work morning, as I entered the break room, it was evident that a similar problem was happening with the large coffee maker. It was not working. Almost the entire office staff was standing and staring at the machine with their empty cups in their hands. I was the only one leaving the break room with a smile on my face…with my OJ.

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