The Fallen Minaret

The car slowed to a stop and parked next to the small corner shop. There were several tables near the entrance occupied by friends and neighbors enjoying a relaxing drink in the fresh air. The driver turned to speak to his passenger in the front seat, “You said you wanted coffee, here’s a coffee shop.”

The bright noon sunlight beamed through the windshield which made Michael squint. His tired old eyes were going to need a moment to adjust to the sights that most people take for granted.  “Thanks. This looks like a real nice place to get a cup of joe.”

“There’s a thousand of these, they’re on every block,” he replied. The driver reached over to the back seat and moved a thick shoulder-bag stuffed with paperwork into his lap.  He unstrapped the well worn leather buckle and flipped through the files within.  “I’ve just got some paperwork for you to sign before I can let you start the next chapter in your life.”

Mike grinned and shook his head, “The final chapter. I’m 87 years old, how much life do you think I have left?”

The driver smiled, “You’ll have to answer that for yourself.”  He placed a thick stapled document on top of a clipboard and handed it to Mike.  “Sign here … here … and here.”

Mike’s shaking hands struggled to hold the pen firmly, “Sorry, I haven’t had to sign my signature in a quite a long time.”

“That’s alright, you’re doing fine.”

Mike finished putting his name and date on everything and he handed the document back. The driver then gave Mike an envelope to keep.  “Now we don’t do cash any longer. You have what’s called a debit card in there. It’s worth $1,000. That should be enough to buy a change of clothing, some meals, and catch a bus to wherever you want to go.”

“Much obliged. You’ve been very kind to me. God bless you son.”

The driver hopped out, and ran over to Mike’s side of the car. He opened the door and helped Mike lift himself out. Mike’s wrists gripped his cane tightly and his knees struggled to support the rest of his body as he cleared the door’s threshold.

They both shook hands, then the driver pulled away. Mike moved slowly into the coffee shop to get his first cup of coffee as a free man.

The variety of things to order was overwhelming. And he decided he would just get a basic cup of coffee. Mike was sure they would have that.

A young couple came into the store, and walked right up to the cashier ignoring Mike’s place in line. But he didn’t get angry like he would have in his younger years. He just shook his head and thought to himself, “times haven’t changed much.”

After ordering the coffee and using the strange plastic card to pay for the drink, he went and grabbed a seat at a small table by the front window. He wanted to look outside and see what life was like.

An irritated manager rushed up and started to yell at him, “Not here old man. I don’t want you taking up this table.” He pointed to the rear of the store by the creamers and sugars. “You can sit back there. Got it?”

Mike understood, “Yes, of course. I’m sorry son, It won’t happen again.” He started to get up slowly but his knees bucked under and he fell back into the seat.

The manager slapped the table loudly with his hand, “I said get up now! Or else I’m going to call the cops!”

A young man from behind the counter heard the commotion and ran up to try and smooth things over. “Don’t worry boss, I got this.”

The manager’s angry expression didn’t soften as he turned and stomped away.

Jerome spoke with a gentle voice to the old man, “Don’t worry about him. You know, he just don’t like us.”

Mike was grateful to encounter a bit of kindness, “thanks.” He extended his hand to the young man, “I’m Mike.”

“Jerome,” he grinned. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Mike. Now let’s get you seated somewhere that won’t land you back in jail.”

Mike laughed, “Amen to that,”

Jerome walked Mike gently to the back of the store and got the old man settled and as comfortable as possible.

“How’d you know I was in prison?”

“The government debit card,” Jerome explained. “We get a lot of people getting their first cup of coffee here.” His expression became serious and he couldn’t contain his curiosity, “So can I ask what you were in for?”

Mike rubbed his forehead and took a long labored breath, “It’s a long story. There was a woman…”

Jerome chuckled at the thought of this old man with lady troubles, “I bet you were quite the lady’s man back in the day.”

“Oh no, nothing like that. But there were also these FBI agents. Told me I was a threat to America. And they even tried to brand me a communist.”

Jerome looked puzzled, “there’s laws against that?”

“Back in the 60s, there was a whole stack of things they piled up against me,” Mike sighed. “But I did it for Yoki, They threatened my family, my reputation. I didn’t want her to go through that mess and all. They had me back up against a wall. What could I do? Take on the entire government?”

“No sir, nobody could ever do that.”

A beautiful impeccably dressed blonde woman came into the coffee shop and scanned the crowd before making eye contact with Mike. “Thank god almighty, You are here!” She made a bee-line towards Mike.

Jerome’s mouth dropped open at the sight of this gorgeous woman coming over to talk to the old man. “You old dog. You still got it.”

The woman walked up to their table and paused for a moment … speechless. She stared at the elderly man as if she was about to meet the most famous hollywood star on the planet. “I’m Katie with CNN. You’re Martin aren’t you?”

Jerome stammered an answer for him, “um. No maam, this here’s Michael.”

Mike patted Jerome’s shoulder, looked at the reporter and nodded, “Indeed, you’re right on the nose.”

The blonde pulled up a chair and sat down at their table before she was even invited. Her thousand-watt smile beamed with excitement, “Dr. King, it is truly an honor to meet you. I have so many questions to ask.”

~ end ~

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Balancer by Patrick WongWhat if you had the power to control Life? But in order to heal you had to harm to maintain balance in the world. Find out what happens to Nicole in The Final Deity Series. Available for sale at Amazon.

A suburban teen finds herself caught up in a series of inexplicable miracles, until she is forced to confront the startling truth about herself: She has the power to give life or take life from every living thing around her. As Nicole explores the extent of her powers, her activities attract the attention of government agents. The concepts of right and wrong will be blurred in this new urban fantasy novel as Nicole struggles to maintain her innocence in a fight for her life.

BALANCER is also available for download for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Genre: Middle-Grade/Young-Adult, Urban Science Fiction, Coming Of Age