The Javarocks Incident
So, a church minister walked into a Javarocks coffee lounge one evening and ordered two tall lattes.
The manner of this customer — this man of the cloth, wearing a stiff pastoral collar and powder-blue shirt — was jovial and avuncular.
But it’s not the minister’s manner that disconcerted Mott, the slacker behind the Javarocks counter. It’s more the fact that this apparent preacher looked not even 10 years older than Mott the Javarockista — yet this young minister was acting like some kind of wise old senior on the mount!
Mott was twitchy.
The lounge was empty of customers until the minister entered, and Mott was dying to slip out back for a much-needed joint.
But the minister spoke again:
“Another thing, young man. Those two lattes—low fat. Bless you, son.”
The minister snapped a $100 bill open in Mott’s face. The portrait of some dead statesman gave Mott’s ill-fitting Javarocks uniform a judgmental once-over.
Mott: “Uh, like, sorry, sir—um, Father. We don’t accept one hundred dollar bills.”
Mott thumbed over his shoulder to a sign on the wall. The sign, a print-out, backed up his claim:
“DUE TO RECENT COUNTERFEITING INCIDENTS ACROSS THE CITY JAVAROCKS REGRETS TO INFORM CUSTOMERS THAT IT CAN NOT ACCEPT ANY 100 BILLS. WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.”
Minister: “Oh dear. These paranoid regulations could try the patience of Jesus Christ Himself.”
Mott: “Real sorry, your worship, but I’m jes’ following orders. My boss went home couple of hours ago.”
The minister played with his collar, and he grinned at Mott condescendingly.
Minister: “Just following orders, eh? Now, there’s an original excuse.”
Mott missed that one. He stared back in silence. He twitched — two hours overdue for a smoke or drink or something. This felt like the longest evening shift ever.
The minister handed Mott the $100 bill with both hands, as if it was a ceremonial sword.
Mott instinctively accepted the bill. He looked it over: it looked like a typical $100 bill. Sure, there was some kind of red blotch in one corner, probably ink, plus a couple of pen etchings. But you sometimes saw that on bills that changed many hands over time.
Minister: “Look, young man, I don’t mean to cause you trouble, but I’ve got a dreadfully busy evening ahead. Heartbreaking things I must attend to.”
Mott: “Sorry to hear.”
The minister coughed. Mott twitched.
The two young men stood off in eyeballing silence.
Minister: “See, I’m counseling a couple. Their twenty-year marriage is on the verge of failure. They have three children. Dreadful.”
Mott stared, eyes glazed, stone-faced.
Minister: “Okay then. After that I’ve got to go to the orphanage. Terrible accident. I must explain death to a bunch of poor kids who’ve known nothing but suffering all their short lives.”
Mott remained silent — a tough nut.
Minister: “Yeah. Hm. Well, after that I’ve got to bury three dead orphans.”
Mott: “In the middle of the night? It’s past eight.”
Minister: “Hm. Yeah, well, daytime funeral services are for those lucky enough to have parents and family mourning for them.”
Mott: “But why are you telling me all this?”
Minister: “I don’t have to explain myself to you, young man. I still have ten sermons to write for tomorrow.”
Mott: “Like I said, I’m, like, sorry. That sucks, your Holiness.”
Minister: “Well, it would suck far less if you’d simply accept my bloody money so I can enjoy my two lattes before my dreadfully long night begins.”
Mott: “Why don’t you just pay with a smaller bill? Your two lattes won’t even come to ten bucks, Pastor.”
Minister: “You know and I know the banks are closed—it is night. And no one accepts one hundred dollar bills these days. But I want my two lattes now—not tomorrow. Don’t make me overturn your tables.”
Mott stared blankly.
Minister: “That was a joke.”
Mott twitched in silence.
Minister: “Surely Javarocks has one of those machines for reading and verifying bills.”
Mott: “No, we don’t.”
Minister: “Okay then. Just go by how the bill looks under the light.”
Mott: “What do you mean?”
Minister: “Watermarks. Or, maybe, I think there are holographic bars on legitimate money notes. You just hold it up to the light, and you’ll know.”
Mott: “I dunno.”
Minister: “Look, Mott, if you do me this favor and accept my bill—”
The Javarockista’s eyes widened.
Mott: “How’d you know my name, man?”
Minister: “—I’ll put in a good word for you.”
Mott: “With my boss?”
Minister: “With our boss.”
With those words, the minister rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling, pointing in a covert gesture.
Mott: “Oh. You can do that?”
Minister: “Not only that—I can inform your boss of the herbal supplements you enjoy out back while you’re on break. Not even Cherry Javaccinos smell so sweet.”
Mott: “No way, man! How’d ya know, dude?”
Minister: “The Lord works in mysterious—and omniscient—ways.”
Mott silently mouthed the word ‘omniscient,’ but pronounced it wrongly.
He shrugged, plainly resigned.
Next, Mott carefully placed the $100 bill on the till. Then he made two tall lattes. Then he set the two lattes down on the counter in front of the minister. Then he punched a couple of touch-keys on the computerized cash register, twitched, and changed the $100 bill.
Mott: “And your change is ninety-three dollars and thirty-one cents.”
Mott handed the exact change to the minister. The minister grinned (condescendingly) and promptly pocketed the money. The minister grabbed the two lattes, nodded, and then started for the exit.
* * *
So, just then, a police officer entered the Javarocks coffee lounge, presumably to order a coffee.
Policeman: “Well, well, well! What have we got here? If it isn’t my favorite rascal, Shamus O'Cleirigh, who always gets up to rascally things!”
The policeman was talking to the minister.
Mott had a weird feeling about this cop.
It wasn’t just that his police uniform looked a few decades out of date — it looked exactly like Chief O’Hara’s uniform from the 1960s Batman TV series. Nor was it the impossibly bad Irish accent with which the cop was talking to the minister. And it sure wasn’t the fact that this cop looked way more Arabic than the Irishman he was trying to pass for.
Something seemed weird. But Mott’s senses were probably scrambled by pot.
And because of the pot (read: paranoia) Mott was definitely not going to question a cop.
Policeman: “Oh, you rascal you! Stop in your tracks! Are you at it again, Shamus?! Up to your rascally things?!”
Minister: “Excuse me, police officer. You must have mistaken me for someone else. I really must go. God bless you, my son.”
The minister set his two lattes down on a table. He made for the exit.
But the beefy cop stopped him. The cop punched him in the stomach and put him into a headlock.
Then the cop turned to Mott.
Policeman: “God save me, young man, but did this con artist I have in the grip of justice right here purchase anything from you?”
Mott: “Sure. Those two lattes on the table beside you.”
Policeman: “Awright, Shamus. You sit your ass down and don’t move a muscle. Silence is your code for the next few minutes, while you’re sitting your ass down there not moving a muscle.”
Mott: “What’s going on?”
Policeman: “Shamus here is a first rate con artist. Let me guess—he gave you one of his expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bills?”
Mott: “Whoa, dude. Yeah.”
Policeman: “Ink blotch in the bottom right corner of his expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill?”
Policeman: “Awright, young man. You look like you’ve already had a long day, so I’ll speed things along. I just need you to sign a couple of forms, to speed things along at the end of a long day, and then we’ll come back tomorrow and talk to your employer about pressing charges.”
Mott: “Sure, sir.”
The policeman put on a pair of latex gloves.
Policeman: “First, give me the expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill. That’s evidence—we’ll need that.”
Mott handed him the $100 bill.
The cop then produced an old 110 camera, and began snapping pictures of the $100 bill, the cash register and Mott.
Policeman: “Awright Shamus, c’mon o’er here. I want you to pose with the kid. Now you, Mott, hand Shamus the expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill, but make it like he’s paying you with the expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill.”
Mott and the minister did as ordered. The cop snapped a couple of pictures.
Policeman: “No, no. Listen, Mott—smile. Look natural.”
Mott smiled, accepting the $100 bill again. The cop snapped a couple more pictures.
Next, the cop had Mott sign a couple of non-descript forms that Mott couldn’t be bothered reading. Then the cop handed Mott a small slip of paper with what looked like a serial code.
Policeman: “That’s your receipt in regards to the case of the expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill. If you have any questions, you read off this number to the police commissioner and he’ll connect you to the case of the expertly counterfeited one hundred dollar bill. Understood?”
Policeman: “And one more thing, Mott—”
Policeman: “If we ever catch you smoking drugs behind the coffee lounge again, we’ll throw you in jail for possession of those drugs you were smoking behind the coffee lounge, see?”
Mott twitched, and began sweating.
Mott: “Yes, sir.”
Next, the cop seized the $100 bill from the minister. The cop put the minister in handcuffs.
Policeman: “Oh, Jesus, Mott—I almost forgot. Here’s the six dollars and sixty-nine cents for the two lattes.”
Mott: “Thanks, officer.”
The cop grabbed the two lattes, kicked the minister in the ass, and the two men left the Javarocks coffee lounge.
* * *
Two hours later …
The minister is bellied up to the stage at The Golden Pole, a strip bar downtown. He’s finishing his fourth pint and pondering a third lap dance. A young woman, platinum blonde and fantastically endowed, is gyrating and dry-riding not four feet away.
The policeman approaches the minister with two pints in hand. The cop is in plainclothes this time, and his bad Irish accent has been replaced by a vaguely Arabic one.
Policeman: “There you are, Don. Where do you want to eat?”
Minister: “Feel like Chinese?”
Policeman: “Fine. But take off the priest’s collar, okay? This isn’t a good place for us to stay. Last time was dodgy.”
Minister: “Not quite yet. I’ve got a good lap dance grift happening. Working like a charm tonight.”
At that point, some twenty feet away, a furious exotic dancer is waving her arms at two massive bouncers, both of them all muscle and no neck. She’s pointing at the minister, and gesturing to The Passion Pit, where she performs lap dances for VIP patrons in private.
A few minutes later, one of the hulking bouncers rejoins his thick-necked colleague and the exotic dancer. Together, the three of them consult a photocopied series of photographs, looking up repeatedly at the minister, scrutinizing his profile.
The two bouncers and the exotic dancer nod.
Dancer: “Yeah, that’s him. That’s the asshole.”
Bouncer #1: “Should we call the cops?”
Bouncer #2: “Naw, let’s deal with this old school style. Out back by the dumpster.”
At that very moment, the minister and the cop are innocently debating which dancers could provide them with the most exciting lap dance.
The massive bouncers are moving on them from behind.
The third lap dance would have to wait.