The Coffee Wars
The Coffee Cave: Popular hangout of the more intellectual and artistic Neopians. Of course, neither of those adjectives could be used to describe me, but I liked to feel like I belonged with that set. Very often, I found myself sitting at a table in the back of the shop, peering over the rim of my coffee cup at the writers and artists, listening to their lively discussions of their most recent entry in the Storytelling Contest or their most recent painting that had gotten into the Art Gallery.
Now, I wouldn't say that I was envious of these Neopians. It's not really in my nature to be envious of anyone, no matter how many times they've been published in the Neopian Times. The only reason I go to the Coffee Cave at all is because I enjoy a good cup of joe. Although, I had to admit, it was a very interesting place to pass one's free time. On a number of occasions, I've walked away from the Cave with an extremely fascinating anecdote to tell to my friends. Of course, with such a motley assortment of creative people all in one place, curious incidents were the norm.
Now usually, when these things happened, I was the casual observer. That was the way I liked it. One day, however, that was not the case.
I had entered the Art Centre and made my way through the Deep Catacombs, with nothing on my mind but a simple Purple Juppie Java. The minute I entered the Coffee Cave, however, that Purple Juppie Java was wiped clear from my brain by the sight that met my eyes.
There seemed to be a full out war going on, with coffee cups flying to and fro so fast that they were nothing but blurs. Every few seconds I could hear one of mugs shatter over the din of shouting Neopets and their owners. Tables were turned on their side, being used as shields by various people in the angry crowd. The yellow Shoyru shopkeeper was running around, dodging all the ceramic missiles, yelling for everyone to stop. She may as well have been a Soggy Old Box, for all the notice they took of her.
After taking all of this in, I immediately decided that I wanted out. Before I could get my hands on the door, however, it was slammed shut by an enraged looking Lupe.
"Whose side are you on?" demanded the Lupe.
"I - I don't know what you mean," I stuttered out, feeling thoroughly scared and confused.
"Do you prefer drawing or writing?" asked an irate looking girl who I assumed was the Lupe's owner.
"Well, I don't know. Writing," I said. The pair looked even angrier. "Er - I mean drawing."
"Pick one!" said a blue Kacheek who was running by.
"Well," I started, "They're both - er - good... in their own way."
"Say drawing!" said the Lupe's owner.
"Okay, okay! Drawing! I like drawing!" I spluttered out.
"Ah! A drawer, eh?" asked a wily looking Pirate Aisha who was hiding behind a table. He took out his pen and threw it at me as though it were a spear. It missed by about a foot and landed with a thud in the wall. I thanked my lucky stars that the Aisha was such a poor aim and I promptly jumped behind the counter to shield myself.
"Hey!" said a voice to my left. I looked quickly and I saw a young Poogle staring at me. "This is my hiding spot!"
"I'm sorry," I said, "but there's really nowhere else to hide."
"That's alright, I guess," said the Poogle.
"Why aren't you fighting with all the others?" I asked him.
"I was at first." He sighed. "But it got pretty scary."
"Tell me about it," I said. I quickly peeked over the counter and saw a cup of Earl Grey Tea whizzing towards me. I ducked just in time and it shattered against the wall.
Just then the shopkeeper came behind the counter and spotted us.
"You two shouldn't be back here!" scolded the yellow Shoyru. "No customers behind the counter!"
"There's nowhere else to hide!" I repeated.
"Oh, I know," said the yellow Shoyru, sitting down sorrowfully on a crate. "I wish I had never started this."
"You started it?" I asked in disbelief.
"I didn't mean to!" wailed the Shoyru. "All I said was, 'I think drawing is harder than writing.' Then the writers started arguing that it wasn't. Then the artists got angry at them. Before I knew it, a huge battle had started!"
"Gee, that's terrible," I said, "They sure got mad, didn't they?"
"They all have artistic temperaments," the Poogle said smartly.
"They're destroying all my coffee, my furniture, and my walls!" cried the shopkeeper.
Before I could console her, a purple Lenny came tumbling over the counter, landing, with a loud thump, right next to me.
"Is that the best you got?" asked the Lenny, standing up and picking up his paint brush. He jumped onto the counter, brandishing his brush as though it were a sword, and vanished out of sight once more.
"How long do you think this'll go on for?" I asked.
"I don't know," replied the Shoyru. "They've had an awful lot of coffee. This could go on for hours."
The three of us sat in silence for a few minutes as the cacophony went on around us. Then suddenly, as though a light bulb had gone on in my head, an idea came to me. A wonderful, marvelous idea that was sure to save us all.
"I've got an absolutely brilliant idea!" I told the others. I quickly got to my feet and hoisted myself onto the counter.
"QUIET!" I shouted as loud as I possibly could. Everyone stopped and stared at me. The silence was so sudden and so absolute that it made me feel extremely nervous.
"Um - " I began, tugging at my shirt collar, "They're giving away... uh... free Frosted Doughnuts at the - er - Neopian Bank..."
There was complete silence for a moment before a Jelly Meerca at the back of the room spoke up. "Liar!" he shouted. "There's no such thing as free doughnuts!"
The hubbub started again and a Tigersquash Swirly Cake was lobbed at my forehead where it landed with a horrible squelching noise. I fell back behind the counter, feeling extremely depressed.
"Free doughnuts?" hissed the yellow Shoyru. "That was your brilliant idea?!"
"I'm not very good at thinking on my feet," I admitted, trying to wipe the cake residue off of my face.
"Here," said the Shoyru, handing me a napkin.
"Thanks," I replied, taking the napkin as another cup of coffee soared over my head and hit the wall.
"Got any more ideas?" asked the Shoyru. "They couldn't possibly be any worse than your last one."
"Nope," I said, wiping the last of the cake off of me. "That was the limit of my creativity."
"I think... I've got an idea," said the Poogle, who had been relatively silent so far.
"What is it?'" asked the Shoyru.
"You'll see." The Poogle grinned and proceeded to hop up onto the counter as I had done moments before.
"HEY, EVERYONE!" shouted the Poogle.
"What is it now?" asked an annoyed Eyrie, whose hands were full of Tigersquash cakes.
"Look at the time!" shouted the Poogle. "The Neopian Times goes to press in one hour!"
"Goodness me, he's right," said a green Krawk.
"I've got to get my comic in," said a boy, grabbing his Meerca and running out the door.
"My story isn't finished yet!" said the Aisha who had thrown his pen at me, and he promptly ran out the door as well.
"I didn't realize we'd been here so long!" said the owner of the Lupe who had slammed the door behind me. They both proceeded to follow the others outside.
One by one, everyone left, till there were only a few people remaining who had either already submitted their stuff to the Neopian Times, or weren't planning on entering anything this week. They were all staring around at the mess they had made, looking pretty ashamed of themselves.
"Good job," said the Shoyru, patting the Poogle affectionately on the head.
"No problem," replied the Poogle. "I gotta get going. My owner's probably worried about me."
"See you around," I said to the Poogle. He waved goodbye to me as he exited the shop. I turned around to see the yellow Shoyru holding a blue broom out to me.
"You get to help clean up, Mr. Free Doughnuts," she said, grinning. I grabbed the broom from her with a grin of my own and promptly started to sweep up the shards of broken ceramic that littered the floor.
After that, I seriously debated on whether or not to come back to the Coffee Cave again. I hadn't known what sort of dangerous people these artists were. Artistic temperaments, indeed. However, a week later I found myself at my usual table at the back of the shop, peering over the rim of my coffee cup as I always did. I really do enjoy a good cup of joe.