Arturo peered through the screen window at Glen outside. Arturo was not spying, per say, nor did he consider himself nosy. These screenings were habitual, daily, routine, practically natural. Arturo doubted anybody could handle Glen the way he personally liked to think that he himself “coped with him.”
This Monday proved pivotal for both men. Arturo observed Glen take the first sip of his coffee. The coffee was always prepared the same. Dark roast with half a sugar and two counts of two percent. Arturo knew this because he prepared it. Glen’s first sip gave him pause. Here we go, thought Arturo. Glen’s eyes narrowed. He brought his cigarette to his lips. He closed his eyes. Oh dear god, thought Arturo. It was the recipe for a reaming. Any moment now Arturo was prepared for Glen- eyes still closed- to sit up, get up, walk over to the screen window and-
No reaming. No chance. But no matter because Glen was on his feet like a gazelle and running as fast as a cheetah. He was first to the crime scene, two hundred yards around the corner from Arturo’s Artistic Coffee Shop. Glen was not a bad tipper, he was an arrogant cheapskate. Glen didn’t smoke a pack a day, he smoked two. To say that Glen existed in a cloud of smoke was an understatement for dwelling in a carcinogenic chimney. To Arturo, it seemed Glen was incapable of being pleased, rarely was he satisfied, and explosive were his expressions of dissatisfaction.
Nothing could change these cold hard facts that Arturo accurately observed. Frankly, Arturo hated him. But- when he watched Glen leap into the flames like a firefighter- when he watched the smoke engulf him- when he saw him disappear- Arturo’s judgement was suspended. And- as he watched Glen emerge- as he saw the smoke part to reveal him- and he saw the girl in his arms- Arturo felt…something. The ambulances appeared, sirens whined, neighbors loitered, chaos ensued. Glen lowered the girl to the pavement and again he disappeared from view, swarmed by the good guys and their medical instruments and professional attention. Arturo waited a long time until the crowds backed off and gave the horrifying scene some space. Finally, he saw Glen stand up, step back and light up a cigarette. He saw a hero.