Second man in coffee shop.

I used to be a movie character.

No, not Hero. Not Villain. Not even Quirky Secretary with Loud Clothes and a You Go, Girl! Attitude or Nerdy Best Friend Who’s Constantly Joking About Sex but Secretly Just Wants His Buddy to Be Happy in Love.

I was Second Man in Coffee Shop.

It was a good gig, really. Decent hours. Sure, we started early, but it was a coffee shop, after all, and I was always home by two or three in the afternoon. Regular pay. Good benefits.

OK, so as jobs go, it wasn’t as glamorous as, say, Sassy Judge or Spy Agency Boss or Grizzled Cop One Day Away from Retirement. My family never had the money for college, let alone Sexy Lawyer school. So I did what most folks like me do. I enlisted in the Expendable Background Solider Army, did a couple tours, got killed eight times (it’s easier than it sounds; the real rough stuff is always done by Inexperienced Private Who Has a Picture of His Girl Back Home, and thank god I never got stuck doing that), used the GI Bill to pay my way through junior college.

I majored in Chatty Witness. My friends from high school were surprised, since I wasn’t really the talkative type growing up. But the real motormouth stuff is for your Bosses and Suspects and Plot-Specific News Reporters, and none of that stuff interested me. Also, I barely scraped by in all my exposition classes, so I knew I wasn’t going to land a prime gig.

A couple interviews later, there I was. Second Man in Coffee Shop. Most days were easy. You’d spend a couple minutes talking to Detectives about how yeah, she was in here yesterday with this guy had a scar on his face right here, but she didn’t look like anything was the matter, why, did something happen to her?

Other days, it’d be a Cop, or a P.I., or maybe even an Amateur Sleuth, but the gist was the same. Yeah, he was in here yesterday, got into an argument with some lady, made a big scene, why, did something happen to her?

Once every few weeks, we’d get a nice change of pace and make wisecracks in a romcom. The Brokenhearted Guy would try to impress the Adorable Girl but everything would go wrong for him, and I’d get to jump in with something about hey, he needs to try the decaf! or hey, and I thought I had issues! or hey, check, please!

When I started, First Guy in Coffee Shop was this guy named Jerry. Big guy, older, thick Boston accent. Real nice fella. Always had a smile.

The way a coffee shop duo works is, Second Guy handles the general details while First Guy offers up the specifics. Had on a Red Sox hat and a name tag that said Mark, stuff like that.

Jerry was great at that sort of thing. Real generous, too. When we got to the romcoms, he always let me do the punchline. He was just happy doing the double takes.

He was so good at double takes, he wound up getting a job in sitcoms. You’ve probably seen him. These days, he’s Lovable Fat Guy. Yeah, the what’s everybody lookin’ at? guy. He got his own catchphrase.

When Jerry left the movies, I figured I was all set to move up to First Guy in Coffee Shop. They hired this skinny guy named Eric instead. Eric’s nice and all, and he’s decent at giving the details about the suspect’s hat, but we all know he got the job because his uncle is Old Man at Newspaper Stand.

Still, I stuck it out for another year before finally putting in my two weeks’. That sort of work, it just gets too repetitive after a while. I stuck around long enough to train the new guy, and he does alright. I saw him do a couple romcoms after I left. Eric didn’t let him do the punchlines, but he was pretty good with the double takes.

As for me, I’m in comic books these days. Man Pointing at Flying Superhero, that’s me. Every once in a while they even let me yell a Wow! or a Gosh! or even a Look out! Not a bad way to make a buck, you know?

copyright 2014 David Cornelius all rights reserved


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