Autumn walked through the lonely city streets. Her mustard yellow boots protected her from the pools of water, as she trudged along through the rain. It had been raining for three days, with no end in sight. Tucked tightly under her left arm, her notebook was wrapped carefully in a plastic bag. She could not afford to lose her work. Autumn was a writer.
After making a left turn at Duffy and Lane, she finally arrived at her destination. Autumn enjoyed holing up at Maybe Sunday, a doughnut and coffee shop. It wasn’t a pretentious and expected place for a freelance writer, like those well known designer coffee shops. She was a down-to-earth low-key kinda lady. Plus, those stuffy coffee shops didn’t have a 2-for-1 special on doughnuts after 3pm. The cinnamon and bow-ties were her favorite choices.
“The usual, Autumn?” Andy asked with a smile.
“You bet.” Autumn smiled back, as she put a five-dollar bill in his hand, and plunked a golden dollar into the tip cup. She wasn’t well-off, but after spending years scraping by in the service industry of diners, coffee shops, and retail, she knew tips mattered. Plus, joints like this one had a je ne sais quoi about them, and were a treasure for story incubation. Maybe Sunday was one of the last gems in a city, that had been all too quickly overtaken by gentrification and chasing trends. Autumn vowed she would protest and chain herself to the doors, if the city ever sought to push her “office space” out of business.
Andy would chuckle, when Autumn would say these things. “Well Autumn, you and a few of these other customers still believe certain things are worth preserving.”
Andy was the son of the original owner of Maybe Sunday. His father had come to the city seeking a better life, after escaping the war. He wasn’t much good when it came to door-to-door sales, and didn’t want to handle work at the stockyards or factories. He choose to make doughnuts and brew coffee instead. Turned out, he had a natural knack for powdering fried dough and sourcing great beans. Business thrived, and after the old man died, Andy decided to keep a family tradition going.
“So what you writing about these days, Autumn?” Andy asked with a lighthearted curiosity. He was wiping down the counters with a damp rag, and moving the napkin dispensers and sweeteners around.
Autumn enjoyed watching Andy and the other staff work. Everyone at Maybe Sunday operated with such precision, that the coffee shop ran like a fine-tuned machine. No matter if business was slow, or the number of customers swelled and created a line out the door, everyone got ample attention and quality service.
“Well, I just picked up some work on the changing face of real estate in the area.” Autumn replied. “I’m also juggling some side assignments on pet ownership, and the struggles of dating for 20-somethings in the city.”
“Sounds interesting,” Andy responded. “Hope you put in a good word for us at Maybe Sunday, if you can. Maybe the city will one day make us a landmark. That would be something, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes, that would be fantastic.” Autumn then paused before speaking up. “Well, as long as the prices don’t go up too much for one of your favorite customers?”
“You’ll always get something for loyalty.” Andy assured Autumn with a wink.
“And hopefully no terrible food trends or diet police come in, trying to make you offer fat-free or sugar-free doughnuts!” Autumn chuckled while clapping her hands in amusement. She imagined some emaciated health-critic storming through the doors of Maybe Sunday. Their face turned up in disgust, and with slits for eyes, they would vilify Andy and the offerings of Maybe Sunday with a pointed finger.
Andy went to the back to grab some more doughnuts to restock the front. Autumn went back to writing in her notebook. Customers would occasionally file in, shaking off the rain from their umbrellas and coats. Orders for coffee with two sugars – no cream, old-fashioned, jelly-filled, and eclairs were called and filled. Autumn decided to call it a day around 8:20 pm. It was ten minutes to last-call and closing time for Maybe Sunday.
“See you around Andy,” Autumn said, as she gathered up her belongings. She placed her notebook back into its plastic bag, despite the rain finally tapering off to just a drizzle.
“Have one for the road, wordsmith.” Andy replied, placing a paper bag filled with doughnut holes into Autumn’s hand.
“Thanks Andy, you’re the best!” Autumn shouted over her shoulder, as the door closed behind her. The bell in the corner jingled gently, announcing her departure. As she made her way across the street, she turned back to look at Maybe Sunday. The sign at the entrance was flipped to show ‘Closed’ and the lights had been turned out. Only the steady glow of the neon, with its persistent low hum, was the only light left.