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Short story: <i>The Cafe Owner's Wife - A Parable</i>

Once upon a time; although admittedly not an overly distant time ago - in a land that is either far, far away or quite close dependent on where you are situated on the globe - there was a cafe. It was located in a strip amongst several other eateries and snazzy little boutiques, all of whose owners prospered fatly and happily. However, it wasn't an overly prosperous cafe. Its windows were dusty and smeared with the jams of sticky fingered time, its chairs and tables were old and uncomfortable, its floors were a grimy brown colour from continual coffee spills and no mop to be seen, and its staff were lazy and insolent to the customers.

And the owners were very, very unhappy.

Then, one day, a prospective employee turned up at the greasy front door, clutching a resume. The prospective employee, let's call her Steph, had a rather patchy employment history and no other cafe in the prosperous and fat town would employ her. However, the owners of the sad little cafe in the middle of the street - let's call them Jonah and Louise - decided what the hell, they didn't make any money to steal anyway. And furthermore, Steph looked eager to please, and all their other employees were shit.

Steph was so grateful she said: "Thank you SO much for hiring me. I'll totally make it worth your while. I couldn't help but notice that your cafe isn't doing so well compared with all the other stores around here. Well, I'm gonna help you turn it around. What do you think we need first?"

And the Jonah and Louise were so taken with Steph's dynamic, go-getter personality that they immediately made her the manager and gave her the responsibility of turning the place around.

Louise said, "Look, frankly, I think the first thing we need is some new furniture, and to clean the place up a little. But frankly, I just don't know where we're going to get the money!"

Steph said, "Leave it to me."

The next week the place was sparkling, and there were brand new chairs and tables, and the floor was restored to its natural colour (cream, if you're interested), and there were new signs out the front. The doors were opened invitingly.

Louise said, "Wow, that's great! But now we need a new coffee machine, cake fridges, and a better selection of drinks to serve. Oh, and the staff need to work harder, look nicer, and stop being so shit."

Steph said, "Leave it to me."

Sure enough, next week saw the new changes implemented. There was a bright and shiny new coffee machine, cakes in the fridge, and the staff wore uniforms and manic smiles, and worked twelve and thirteen hour shifts at less than minimum wage without complaint.

Louise said, "Yeah, that's good, but now we need customers."

Steph said, "Leave it to me."

The following week, Louise and Jonah went to check in on their little cafe. And sure enough, there were people queuing up to get through the door, and the register was ringing as steadily as a telephone.

"Wow!" Said Jonah.

"Yes, but..." Said Louise.

"What now?" Said Stephanie.

"I think we need to expand. It's just not big enough." Said Louise.

Steph said, "Leave it to me."

Within a month she had wrangled the two successful cafes on either side of Louise and Jonah's little cafe, knocked the walls out, and they had a fully fledged restaurant/cafe which was the biggest sensation in town. The money was flowing in so fast they couldn't keep count. Luckily, they had Steph to deal with all that for them.

"This is just amazing!" Said Jonah. "I'm just so happy!"

"Well..." Said Louise. "I think we should get a big, ostentatious house so we can parade our wealth around the neighbourhood."

"Can I make a suggestion?" Said Steph.


"Can I recommend putting the big, ostentatious house elsewhere? Like the Cayman Islands? Don't you feel like you have enough already? Don't you remember where you were a couple of months ago?"

"Look." Snapped Louise. "I hired you and I can fire you. Now just do what I say!"

Steph sighed. "Leave it to me."

The day after they moved into their ostentatious house in the wealthiest suburb in their city, complete with a boat and two luxury all terrain vehicles for running over curbs and toddlers, Louise still wasn't happy.

"I want something more..." She said.

"I think Steph is getting sick of us." Said Jonah. "Just leave it."

"No, I've worked it out." Said Louise. "I want a..."

There was a knock at the door.

"That was fast!"

At the door were two burly, running to fat policemen.

"That's not what I asked for!" Gaped Louise.

"Louise Smith? Jonah Smith?" They asked officiously, the fatter one stroking his moustache in an overly familiar and slightly obscene way.


"You're under arrest for burglary, fraud, worker's rights violations, drug dealing and tax evasion."

From the police station, Louise used her one phone call to call Steph, who was at work for the seventieth straight day in a row.

"Steph? What is going on?"

"Louise, how do you think I got all those things? The chairs, the tables, the coffee makers? How do you think I procured the shops next door? How do you think I was getting people through the door and making you a fortune? Not your shit coffee, that's for damn sure. And I TOLD you to move to the Caymans. It's called a tax haven. Honestly, I would have let you get away with the lot if you'd only given me a day off every now and then, but frankly, the other staff felt that we should complain to the union and then the shit just really hit the fan. Anyway, I've got customers. Gotta go."

On the down side, the avaricious Louise and her poor husband Tom were jailed for their insatiable greed for some time.

On the up side, their burgeoning business and house weren't repossessed and sold off by their various creditors, namely the tax office, because Steph had very kindly taken them off their hands when she was in charge of the books.

The moral of the story is, don't trust an employee with a patchy employment record, or, when that employee tells you it's time to get to the Caymans, do it.

This is the result of a thirty minute writing exercise. This week I have been given the seven deadly sins as themes and a corresponding set of locations for each one. Today's sin and setting were: greed/avarice, and a cafe.

Image courtesy of leandro_marco.

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Hey I really liked this one! Can you give me the titles of the 6 other deadly sins series stories?