Three Coffees and a Crueller

FROM: “Full of Woe” (fanfic) Chapter 10/17

This covers the reason behind Dr. Valerie Kinbott living in Jericho. It’s got four parts, covering a few decades: from just after college; after medical school; about five years after that; and finally about a year or two before the events of Wednesday. The other player in this little saga is Eliora Constance Jorgenson (Eliora being the female equivalent to the name Uriah), the fish-out-of-water who later becomes the proprieter of Uriah’s Heap.

Notes:

It took me a little while to recognize the actress of Dr. Kinbott as half of the duo of Garfunkel & Oates. But once that happened, this story unfolded in my head. From being a music-playing duo (and on-and-off again friends w/benefits) in college to life after graduation and then reconciling after years of being apart. I laid out where Connie/Eliora’s dislike of hipster swill came from and included a little inspiration for Dr. Kinbott’s hobby of taxidermy dioramas. I hope in the time between this story’s setting and the end of the Wednesday series, Valerie and Connie/Elly got some of the happiness that they deserved. I unabashadley love my coffee chain, FreudShadenFreude and their odd menu selection.

AM NOW ADULT?: Coffee, 2 sugars, black

“Hand Warmer?”

Val looked up from her crocheting. “Winter scarf.”

Elly frowned. “What’s that… the sixth for your grandma?”

Val sighed. “Eighth. But she says she likes them and I’m poor.”

“Eli… Elly… El-eye… dora?”

Elly frowns again. “The siren call of the barista.”

“I don’t think Dunkin’ Donuts calls them baristas.”

Elly snorts, amused. “Can I get you anything?”

Val puts down the knitting. “ Yes . Oh god, please. A cup of coffee and … maybe one of those cinnamon twist things?”

Elly nods and goes over to the counter. Val watches her leave, smiles, but then hides it. Elly comes back with a latte, a coffee, and two cinnamon twists.

“Thanks.”

“Not a problem.”

“God, this is so good.”

“Yeah.” Elly paused “I’ve been thinking…”

“Hmmm?”

“What if… what if we moved in together?”

Val freezes. “Like… together, together?”

Elly hides her reaction behind a cough. “Like… friends sharing expenses. Me, girl from small town with a little expendable income and you, girl from big city who could… use a hand maybe?”

“Oh.”

Elly looks hopeful. “We could do that band thing we used to talk about. Maybe do some music together?”

“I mean… sure… that. I was thinking of going back to school. Maybe get an art therapy degree…”

“Oh, sure… that would be… I mean we both know how quiet I am. Quiet as a mouse. Except…” Elly stops herself.

Val blushes.

“It could be like our first year in the dorms except, you know, well… not…”

Val waved off the comment. “Yeah. Roommates. No, I mean… I get it. I… I really do. And I’m… flattered? That you thought of me. And I’m really, really broke. ” She sighed. Then she straightened up. “Yes. Yes, let’s give it a shot.”


DR. ADULTING: Moka pot, 6 sugars, cream

The mug shattered against the wall, and the smell of coffee punctured the impact. Val noted it was the Tim Horton ’s cup with the picture of that twisty donut on it from that trip to Toronto about four years back. “That could constitute abuse.”

Tears were pouring down Elly ’s face. “ Don ’t you try and turn this back on me. I am upset and I needed to break something. How could you do this me ? ”

It took every ounce of strength Val had to maintain her composure, to not instinctively reach out and try to comfort Elly. “You know we’ve been drifting apart for ages.”

You said we were going through a rough patch. Something all couples go through.”

“What happened was unexpected.”

“He was your post-doc advisor. How cliche is that?”

“We waited until my internship was done.”

How does that make that any better for me?”

“Now calm down.”

“Calm down?” Elly pulls herself up to her full height. “I put you through your doctorate. I gave up music for you. Hell, we were practically married.”

“I made no promises.”

Elly looked at her, stunned, and then threw herself back down in her seat, head in hands. She took a moment and then looked back up. “No. No you didn’t. Even back in college, when all this …” She waves her hand at Val. “—started up, you never made any promises. And I noticed . I really did. I noticed when you went off on all of your other tangents and obsessions. When you’d get lost in your head. How you’d lose sight of yourself and I’d be the one to rein you back in.”

Val frowned. “That sounds unhealthy. For you.” She clarified.

Elly scowled. “Doesn’t it, just?” She stands up. “I’m done. I’m done with letting you run over my heart. Go stuff your pain and your obsession with making it big and your grief over your mom not being there somewhere else.”

Val stands. “Fine. I’ll just go pack a few things.”

Elly glares at her.

Val sighs. “I’ll send someone for my things. Have a nice life, Eliora.”

“Wish I could wish you the same.”


IS ADULTING, NO: All the caffeines, please

The world is just a dull buzz around her and the ache in her neck just won ’t go away. Val looks at the menu at the coffee shop with a bit of dismay since the words keep swimming in front of her.

“What the hell is hirschhörner?”

The barista launches into the pre-trained presentation with all the gusto of a hound swallowing medicine. “It’s German for ‘deer’s horns’. It’s a hand-crafted baked confection made fresh in our shop. It comes with a complimentary cup of one of our torschlusspanik line of gourmet coffees. ”

“Jesus. For that price it’d better.”

“Would you like instead to upgrade to one of our sturmfrei specials? That’s a double-shot, coconut-milk, hazelnut-infused caps with a caramel drizzle and a rock-salt sprinkle.” The barista notes the large bags under Val’s eyes. “Or maybe just the weltschmerz. That’s a quad, low-foam, no-sugar, vanilla substitute.”

“She’ll take the erbsenzähler.”

Val turns to see Elly behind her in line.

“It’s a black coffee served in a sixty-four ounce cup.”

“Oh, hey Connie! The usual?”

“Yep.”

“M’kay. One kummerspeck coming right up.”

Val rubs her forehead. “Thanks.” She looks over Elly. “You… look good.”

Elly snorts in amusement. “You can’t lie worth shit.”

Val sighs. “It’s… yeah… it’s been a while.”

“You look like shit.”

“I… yeah. It’s dealing with the kids.”

“You’ve got kids?” Elly moves to the end of the counter for her order.

He’s got kids.” Val frowns. “I’m just the one left raising them.” She makes a grab for her coffee and misses it. Elly picks it up for Val and guides her over to an open table. They sit.

“That sounds like… fun.”

Val tries to rub the sleep out from her eyes. It doesn ’t work. “I mean… I guess… it’s part of the contract, but… jesus fuck Elly, I’m a doctor. I have a practice.”

“He does too, right?”

“Yeah… sort of. I mean… most of it’s at the college, still.”

“With all those hot young interns?”

“Ha ha. That’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair is leaving you to raise the kids.”

Val takes a sip of her coffee. Frowns. “Life’s not fair. And what’s up with the ‘Connie’ thing?” She waves in the direction of the barista.

“Middle name. Decided I didn’t want to be small-town dutch name anymore.”

“Oh.”

“And Leilu likes it.”

“Leilu?”

Elly points outside the cafe. There ’s a woman there, buried in shopping bags, arguing with a street vendor.

“Oh. She looks like me.” Val winces as she realizes she said that aloud. “Sort of.”

“She’s nothing like you.”

Val slumps. “I suppose that’s good.”

Elly looks wistful. “Not always.” She taps her mug. “I’m thinking of leaving.”

“Her?”

“The city. My uncle just died and his place is up for sale.”

“Jebediah?”

“Nah. The other one. Uriah.”

“Oh. Did we like him?”

“You never met him. But I was his favorite niece. His only niece… I think.”

“I thought you hated that town.”

“Ah well… you know what they say. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. And all that shit.”

“What does Leilu think?”

“Leilu thinks city shopping is just fine, thank you very much.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. ‘Oh’. We’re having the conversation this afternoon.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well… you never know. Maybe it’ll turn out fine.”

Val looks towards Leilu. “Maybe.”

“Anyway. Nice catching up with you.”

“Yeah.”

“You maybe want to exchange numbers.”

Elly shakes her head, a little sad. “No. Not really.”

Val deflates. “Ok. I mean. Fair. You… have a nice life?”

“Yeah. Good luck with yours.”


AM ME: Cruller & herbal tea

Val looks up from her chamomile and smiles. The cafe is kind of an outlier in the small town of Jericho. A conversion from some sort of breakfast nook, now a Starbucks-lite with a indie vibe. There ’s a light dusting of snow on the ground and people shopping in that sort of leisurely way that just invited relaxation.

“Holy shit.”

Val turns her attention from the window and there ’s Elly, larger than life, at the counter.

“Did not expect to see you here.”

Val gets up from the table and walks towards Elly. “I’ve got a conference in Manchester. ‘On the impact of dialectical behavior and schedule 1 psychedelics therapies in Oregon’.”

Fascinating.” Elly sticks her tongue out.

“Well… it’s a living. And I figured I had the time to drive… and you had always talked about this place.”

“You never seemed interested.”

“It seemed… it seems… quaint.”

“Quaint.”

Val sipped her tea. “No, not in a bad way. Just… nice for a change.”

“Nice to get away from being Dr. Mom?”

“Oh… divorced. Three years now. Problem with an intern. A couple of interns actually.”

“How cliche.”

“I know. But it did force me to re-evaluate my priorities. I like quaint. But what’s with the goth kid?” Val motions towards the barista at the counter.

“Oh, that’s Tyler. Sheriff’s kid. It’s a phase. His dad’ll beat it out of him.”

Val raises an eyebrow.

Elly sighs. “Not literally . Well … pretty sure not literally. Dad’s kind of an asshole and the kid could use some serious therapy.”

“Are you volunteering me?”

“Couldn’t hurt. Mom was Dad’s childhood sweetheart who got out, came back, got pregnant, stuck around just long enough to cause a fuss and give birth and then fucked off again to wherever. Kid’s got abandonment issues.”

“I see you’ve got all the juicy gossip.”

Elly laughed. “I do . ”

Val took another sip, trying not to look too furtive. “How’s ‘Leela’? How’s she like the place?”

Elly frowned. “Leilu. And she didn’t make the move.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. You’re not the only one who got to reevaluate their priorities.”

“And the verdict is?”

“I like it here. Weird though it might be. Take a look at those folks…” Elly pointed at a group of women dressed in black frocks. “—cosplaying a bunch of religious bigots for the tourist trade. And them…” She indicated a group of students. “Private school kids from an exclusive boarding school. Talk about basket cases.”

Ooo. Private school kids? Now there’s a wealth of therapy sessions waiting to happen.”

Elly tensed. “We don’t… I mean… it’s hard to explain but we don’t mix with the kids up at Nevermore. They are different . Not bad different, I guess. But they certainly … well… it’s a townie thing. I guess that doesn’t make much sense.”

Val pointed to herself. “Big city girl, remember? We definitely understand the nature of boundaries.”

Elly snorts. “Sure.”

“So… you’re here for the coffee?”

“Oh, shit no. I don’t drink this hipster swill. But I do go for a cruller.”

Val looks at the cinnamon twists. “Oh so that ’s what those are called. ”

“Yup.”

“Can I buy you one?”

“Hell yes. You owe me one.” Elly then pauses. “Val, what the hell are we doing?”

Val gets the shakes, just for a moment, then reins it back in. “What do you mean?”

“You’re just ‘passing through’? What are the odds of me coming in here for coffee?”

Val hides her guilt behind her tea. “They increase when you wait from when the place opens to, oh, now. And also if the barista knows you.”

“Yeah, Tyler knows me. I order his goth gear for him. But, why, Val? We were done what… a decade or more ago?”

“More than a decade. And what if we… weren’t?”

Elly scoffs.

“I mean… I’m not saying we like, move in together. Oh god, just hear me out. What if… what if… I mean. I could open up a practice here. Get my own place.”

“Val, this place would drive you nuts.”

“No. Not anymore than where I was. And I… I kind of need the peace and quiet. I need to be away.”

“Mm.”

“I need you.”

“I can’t guarantee that. You take up a life here and who knows what happens? You and me? Didn’t work well the last time.”

“Well…” Val sighs. “I’m more mature now. How’s that?”

Elly looks incredulous and then laughs. “More mature? Well, how about that.” She shakes her head. “I might not even give you the time of day. And this place gets weird.”

Val nods. “I like weird. You should see what I got into since you were gone. Dioramas.”

“That’s odd, but not weird.”

Val reaches out and gently takes Elly ’s hand. “Let me show you one. Then you can be the judge.”

Elly gives Val ’s hand a gentle squeeze. “This… is probably a mistake. I mean… what if you don’t even like it here.”

Val pulls her hand back, takes a sip of tea. “Or… counterpoint… what if I liked it so much that I stayed here for the rest of my days? ”

Elly laughs. “Touche.” She gives Val a small peck on the cheek and then turns and strides towards the door.

Val tries very hard not to beam with happiness.

Elly looks back. “Six pm. I’ll meet you outside the Heap. Bring your diorama and I’ll order up pizza.”

Val nods quickly.

Elly opens the door, looks down, but then looks back to see the expression of hope on Val ’s face. “And, Doctor Valerie Kinbott… welcome to Jericho.”

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