Captain Cappuccino and Miss Mocha
In a world of far away lands, Kings and Queens, Faeries and evil, was a small piazza located under the city of Neopia Central. This place was a haven to all Neopians interested in art and literature and featured many cultural venues.
This was the Deep Catacombs: home to writers and readers alike. Aspiring painters filled the benches, storytellers kneeled in circles, spinning yarns, and ‘Times reporters paced the dusty floor, looking for inspiration.
There was a cluster of attractions that occupied the underground square, such as the How-To-Draw lessons, the Poetry Contest, and the Coin Shop. One of the most popular, however, was the Coffee Shop, where Purple Java Juppies, Cobrall Coffees, and Bubble Teas were only a sip away. After all, without the Coffee Shop, how would the Neopian artists be able to get through their art-filled days?
Of the Neopians that crowded into the Catacombs every day, two modern heroes rose above the rest. Diligent, brave, and unwavering, the dynamic duo faced monstrous, Defenders-of-Neopia-sized problems and rigorous interrogations...
“Would you like cream or sugar with that?”
The pink Kacheek who had been standing at the counter for five minutes contemplated the inquiry. “Uhh, just sugar,” she said after a while.
“Fantabulous,” said the yellow Gelert, the Kacheek’s server. He grabbed a packet from under the counter along with a coffee stirrer. “There you go. And if you need anything, just ask for the Captain. Captain Cappuccino.” He grinned toothily and slid the drink towards her.
“B-But your nameplate says ‘Edward’,” the Kacheek remarked, pointing.
“Ah,” said the Captain, glancing down at his white apron. “Well, I’m Edward by night and Captain Cappuccino by day... but if I’m working the night shift, then I’m Captain Cappuccino by night, too.”
Forcing a smile, the Kacheek nodded meekly and went to sit by the window with her House Blend Coffee.
To say Edward loved his job at the coffee shop was an understatement. The Gelert often thought that preparing hot drinks, wiping counters, and mopping floors was what he was born to do. Serving coffee to the aspiring artists that came in the little shop every day was an honor.
A grey Aisha sat in a booth by herself, extra set of ears drooping dejectedly. The pencil in her hand slowly tapped the edge of her paper and she looked even sadder than normal. Captain Cappuccino didn’t seem to notice this, as he was reviewing the list of all teas known to Neopia in alphabetical order as he worked.
“What rhymes with ‘darkness’?”
Captain Cappuccino stopped wiping and looked over, pausing between Breakfast Tea and Bubble Tea. “I’m sorry?”
“‘Darkness,” the Aisha repeated, in the same, monotonous voice. “What rhymes with it?”
The bells on the door jingled and a blue Usul skipped in.
“Good morning, Captain!” she chirped happily, throwing him a friendly smile.
“Good morning, Miss Mocha,” the Gelert returned the greeting and grin.
A tsk-tsk sound came from the corner of the coffee shop. “You’re late, Sherry.”
Miss Mocha frowned at their boss, a yellow Shoyru named Thelma, and smoothed her apron in embarrassment. “Yes, the ‘Catacombs were quite busy today, and well, being so small, I had a hard time getting over here.”
“See that you leave your home earlier next morning,” Thelma snapped, her voice dripping with venom. She turned swiftly and disappeared into the store room.
Thelma was one of those strict Neopians that insisted on hard work and even more on top of that. Her face was weathered from countless years of fighting with the Espresso machine and taking orders from caffeine-deprived customers. There were deep lines in her forehead from furrowing her brow at all of the previous employees. Captain Cappuccino and Miss Mocha did not want to cross Thelma on one of her bad days.
“She’s quite terrifying,” said Miss Mocha, once sure that the haggard Shoyru was out of earshot.
“Oh yes,” said Captain Cappuccino, nodding his head vigorously, “more so than a Sourmelon Brew!” The yellow Gelert recalled the first time he had sampled the tangy drink and shuddered at the thought.
Miss Mocha did not have time to answer because a raucous voice reverberated from the back room. “Edward! Less jabbering; more cleaning!”
“Yes, ma’am!” said the Gelert and he hastily began to wipe the tables again.
“Captain, we need a Pinanna Cappuccino and a Thornberry Tea, right away!”
Even with Thelma retreating out of the storeroom to help, the mid-day rush of coffee drinkers seemed to come even earlier. Two long lines of anxious Neopians waited their turn to order with a small babble of speech circulating amongst them.
Captain Cappuccino swiftly filled the Pinanna and Thornberry cups and passed them over to Miss Mocha at the counter. His forehead beaded with steam from the hot drinks and he wiped it away with a yellow paw.
“A Tigersquash Iced Bun and an Ummagine Tea to go!” Thelma called out yet another order, causing Captain Cappuccino to pivot on the spot and fill another Styrofoam cup.
The early afternoon raced by at a similar pace and by two o’clock, the Captain sank into an empty chair in the storeroom. He decided that his break would only be for ten minutes... just enough time to wolf down a homemade sandwich and then back on his aching feet.
“That was some nice work today, Edward,” said Thelma, looking up from her magazine, Neopian Delicacies & Fine Dining.
“Thanks!” said Captain Cappuccino, excited to have received a compliment. “I’m going back out again real soon.” He waved the half-eaten ham and cheese. “Believe me, if I didn’t have to eat, I’d be out there all day!”
The Shoyru wasn’t smiling at this; just being friendly, which Captain Cappuccino knew was a difficult task for her. Before either of them could say any more, Miss Mocha burst into the storeroom looking bewildered.
“Where’s the fire?!” Thelma demanded, shooting up like a jack-in-the-box.
“Mr. Lynch is coming!” Miss Mocha breathed. “He’s just entered the ‘Catacombs and I’m sure he’s on his way!”
Thelma jerked the sandwich out of Captain Cappuccino’s paws. “Get out there, Edward! You know Mr. Lynch is a very important customer.”
Oh, the Captain knew, all right.
Mr. Peter Lynch was not just an important customer, but perhaps the most important customer. He co-owned the Neolodge, Neopia’s grandest hotel, located just a skip away from the Deep Catacombs. More so, he ordered all of the Neolodge coffee machines and large sacks of coffee beans from this very shop. Losing his business would be like losing the entire café and neither Captain Cappuccino nor Miss Mocha was keen on letting that happen.
The door bells jingled and the royal Scorchio entered, blue cloak grazing the floor.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Lynch!” The blue Usul managed the most chipper tone possible. “What can we do for you today?”
“Just a double shot of Espresso, please,” the Scorchio wheezed, clasping his hands together over the counter. “To go.”
It felt like something inside of Captain Cappuccino had exploded. A queasy feeling settled into the pit of his stomach Oh Fyora, why did it have to be an Espresso?
“Did you hear that, Captain?” called Miss Mocha, from the register. “A double shot of Espresso to go for our friend here.”
“Yes, thank you, Miss Mocha, I heard.”
Please, please, don’t bug out on me, he silently pleaded to the daunting machine. The yellow Gelert turned the machine on and placed the Styrofoam cup in its exact spot. The only thing left to do was wait. He could feel their eyes on his back as Miss Mocha made small chat with Mr. Lynch. After half a minute of standing around passed, Miss Mocha skipped over to the Espresso machine.
“What’s the problem?” she whispered through a big smile.
“My name is Captain Cappuccino, not Captain Espresso!” he hissed.
After a few more inching seconds, something gurgled to life and the cup began to fill with a dark liquid. Captain Cappuccino breathed a sigh of relief when it reached the top of the cup. Happy enough with the results, he set the Espresso on the counter and knocked into a bag of coffee beans as a result. A handful came crashing to the floor like a sudden rainstorm.
“Oops,” he said a little too giddily and carefully stepped over them. “I’ll get that...”
“There you are, sir, a double shot of Espresso!” Miss Mocha carefully slid the coffee beans into a pile with her foot, unwilling to take her eyes off the Scorchio. “Would you like anything else with that?”
Mr. Lynch held up his Styrofoam cup to toast us. “No, thank you. This is fine.” He turned and shuffled out of the Coffee Shop just as a small group wandered in. Miss Mocha and the Captain exchanged grateful glances that the ordeal was over.
“Do you really call yourself Captain Cappuccino?” a young Mynci asked me upon reaching the counter.
Captain Cappuccino finished sweeping the coffee beans off the floor and rose to his full height. “Yes, that’s my name.” The Mynci was wearing a studded collar, I Love Sloth T-shirt, and had multiple silver hoops in each of his ears.
“Dude,” he said, shaking his head. “You’re weird.”
It was a good thing Miss Mocha gasped right before his statement otherwise the Captain might have said something regrettable to the Mynci punk.
“Miss Mocha!” he exclaimed, putting his yellow paws on her shoulders. “What’s wrong?”
“Mr. Lynch...” the blue Usul choked out. Her eyes filled with the utmost terror he had ever seen. “He... he forgot... his coffee stirrer!”
And sure enough, lying on the counter in plastic wrap was the lone utensil.
Captain Cappuccino knew what he had to do.
“Move! Move! Move!”
The group of young Neopians hushed at the sudden upheaval and swiftly parted; some pushed their way to the front while others stumbled towards the back. Using his powerful hind legs, the Captain bounded over the counter and down the crowded street.
A royal, slow-moving Scorchio shouldn’t be too hard to find, he thought to himself, but the ‘Catacombs were packed. He tried to locate a green head in the sea of artists but unfortunately, green was a rather common color. A blue cloak, however, was not. Climbing the steps up to Neopia Central and holding a Styrofoam cup was Mr. Lynch.
“Mr. Lynch!” Captain Cappuccino called, knowing that his voice couldn’t possibly be heard. “WAIT!”
Elbowing past sauntering Neopians and mumbling apologies as toes were treaded on, the Gelert continued to hurry after the Neolodge’s co-owner. Once above ground, he scanned the area. A royal Scorchio with a Styrofoam cup was climbing into an Eyrie Cab.
The green head turned. The massive Eyrie already in the harness looked over, too.
“Mr. Lynch!” Captain Cappuccino gushed, “you forgot your coffee stirrer!”
The elderly face broke into a wide grin. “What remarkable service!” He took the utensil from the cab window and tucked it into his robe. “What is your name, son?”
The Captain hesitated... “Edward, sir.”
“Thank you, Edward, thank you.” He waved a little with his stubby fingers. The cab began to ascend so Captain Cappuccino scooted back towards the entrance of the Deep Catacombs, watching the flying vehicle until it was only a speck in the cloudless sky.
Miss Mocha still looked like she had seen the Ghost Lupe when he came panting through the Coffee shop door. “Did you... did you find--?”
“Crisis averted, mission accomplished, task completed,” Captain Cappuccino sucked in a breath of air and nodded slowly. “Everything’s fine.” The Gelert opened the second register thinking about Mr. Lynch’s wonderful compliment.
“Thelma doesn’t need to know about that incident,” Miss Mocha whispered before taking the order of a purple Chia.
I nodded in agreement and faced forward. The Mynci punk stepped up to the counter.
“Wow, Cappuccino, you are one straaange dude.”
“The name is Captain Cappuccino,” the yellow Gelert corrected him and flashed a cheesy grin. “May I take your order?”
Author’s Note: Thank you for reading and feedback is always welcomed. Thanks to beewitched2 for editing.