Rogue taxidermy griffin, Copenhagen. All images: Wikimedia.
I had been to bed, but not to sleep, for at least 24 hours. I’d done some “smokables and snorables” I hadn’t in quite a while. So, when I rounded the corner, and saw a customer waiting for the café to open, I thought I was reliving the weekend. A shake of the head made things clear; there was a griffin looking at the hours, and peaking through the windows.
I was early since I figured it would take longer than usual to get set up. What do you say to a griffin, I wondered. I’d studied mythology, but . . .
“Hello sir. We aren’t open yet, but you are welcome to come inside and wait.”
A garbled something echoed inside my head. “Please translate griffin to 21st century American.”
“Sorry, I forget sometimes to make sure the communication goes both ways. I do accept your kind offer,” the griffin said, now that I he was thinking my language.
I took a quick look up and down the street, but it was pretty quiet at this time in the morning. The homeless folks came by for coffee later, just before I officially opened to the public.
So, propping the double doors open, and with his wings as close to his body as possible, and his head and shoulders bent down, he skittled into the café. I was thinking I could reorganize the comfy corner to some sort of griffinesquese retreat when . . .
“Standing is better, bad back and all. If you don’t mind, I’d like to watch you work.”
“No problem. Fine with me.” I got things whizzing towards the twilight zone of opening hour.
“To which wizard were you apprenticed to learn mythology,” he asked. (Remember, all this dialogue is going on inside my head, while I’m doing the set up and a griffin is towering over me with a quizzical look on his face.)
I wasn’t sure if he only heard what I was “saying,” or if he picked up on my other thoughts. So, I hummed to myself as I thought of an answer. I made my mythology professor’s name sound more “wizardish.
“Ah, a woman – the profession is finally moving into the 21st century. I assume she is American, which is perhaps why I do not recognize the name.”
“Um, she just finished the 13th stage of her teaching certification, and I am her first student.” I hoped this was a reasonable response.
“Thirteen stages – that is rigorous training. I am always saying that we must look to the Americas for fresh ideas and new standards.”
“Have you met my friends, Mr. Roc and Mr. Phoenix?” he inquired.
“No, though I have been to Phoenix, his namesake I believe. Actually, you are first mythological beas. . . creat . .. character I’ve met,” I answered honestly.
Silence inside my head, as I went over the written opening check list. I won’t have trusted my fried brain this morning, especially not with a griffin apparently trying to make pleasant conversation.
Seemed like everything was ready to go. Treats in the display case. Coffees ground. Day old baked goods bagged up for the street folk; I’ll put a pot of coffee on early for them.
The griffin had been eyeing the coffee menu. “Any questions?” I asked.
“No,” he replied in his genteel voice with an English accent straight out of Masterpiece on PBS. “Café Americano with extra shots. I want the dark richness without the drink tasting like espresso. Whipped cream, of course. Do you have any of that espresso whipped cream?”
“No, but I do have a nice caramel I can drizzle on the whipped cream. But, I do see a problem . . .”
“The decorative bowl on the shelf will do nicely.” The ceramic piece was part of the décor dreamed up by the owner.
As I was cleaning it up, I tried to figure out how to create Café Americano on that scale. Luckily, griffins are excellent at math – both imperial and metric. All I had to do was follow his formula.
While concocting his beverage, I noticed him definitely eyeing the generous, gorgeous slices of pecan pie. “How many,” I imagined he’d want more than one serving to go with his gargantuan coffee.
“How many do you have?” He had a rather hungry gleam in his eye. I tried to remember if griffiths ate people. “Pardon. I should be more specific – pies.”
“Two more in the cooler outback.”
“Excellent,” was his response, “and please cut them into griffin sized pieces.”
Humming again, and counting on my fingers, I totaled up the Griffins bill. I was not about to hassle a 8 foot beast with talons AND claws over his tab. My bank was close – I’d get the money, but how to work it into the daily take – and explain two whole pecan pies. I hummed louder.
I came out front with the pieces of pie on a tray – no need for a fork. Magically, money had appeared on the counter. I hoped it was real cash, not a chimera. When I counted it later, it was exactly what he owed including tax and a more than generous tip. He had an imaginative/ingenious way to cover his presence, and appetite. The ruse might just work.
What would you do if you had a giffin standing at your coffee bar with whipped cream smothering his usually neatly groomed feathers and fur? A giggle popped out. Then two. I moved to the other end of the bar, busying myself with cups and spoons. Making sure I put the extra pot of coffee on. But the giggles wouldn’t stop.
From the other end came a sound — a cross between an amorous cat, a machine gun, and fingers on a chalk board. Turns out, griffins have a sense of the ridiculous, and a very strange laugh.
Bending down, closer to my height, I helped him get clean. That’s when I saw my watch and noticed the time. Soon the street people would be casually hanging out a few doors down, waiting for breakfast. Then, I’d open the doors, and the paying customers would pour in, groggy, grouchy on their way to jobs they hated.
I hadn’t hummed, and besides the look on my face probably indicated time had become an issue. I just wasn’t sure how either crowd would react to a griffin.
“I understand perfectly,” he said, sadly nodding his head, “Always a problem when you step out of your time and out of your myth.”
“I’ll let you out by the larger, non-customer back door”
As I pulled open the heavy double doors, the griffin paused, “I have a favour to ask of you.”
“Favour?” I nervously asked. He seemed okay, but with mythical folks, you just never knew.
“Could you come in an hour earlier tomorrow. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and my breakfast.”
“Meet me at the back door,” I answered, “and let’s make it an hour and a half earlier.”
Written for Tale Weaver’s Prompt #37, A Griffin Walks Into a Bar
An interesting book with bar in its title is: Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar . . . * * * Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein.