Alan Conner deviated from his regular routine and turned left into the coffee shop, instead of crossing the street.
The barista behind the counter greeted him cheerfully, but he ignored her for the moment and concentrated on taking in his surroundings. His phone beeped at him quietly to remind him of an important appointment, but he ignored that, too.
“Sir, can I help you?” the barista asked again, mistaking Conner’s silence for indecision.
“Yes, thank you,” he replied. “Coffee, please.”
She looked at him strangely. “What kind of coffee?”
“I was just thinking about how I’ve never been in here before,” said Conner.
“We have light, or dark roast on, or we can make you any kind of latte that you want,” said the barista helpfully.
Conner’s phone began to ring. He fumbled to silence it.
“Busy day?” asked the barista.
Conner smiled. “No, not really.”
A line was beginning to form behind him, but he didn’t see it.
“I’ll tell you what,” said the barista. “I’ll get them to make you a latte. You’ll like it. It’ll be on me, today.” She directed Conner to the other side of the counter.
“Really nice place you’ve got here,” he said as he made his way over. Then he collapsed.
Somebody in line screamed. The barista ran around the bar to Conner’s side. “Call 911,” she yelled at her colleague who was near the phone.
“Hold still,” she told Conner. “Are you ok?”
“I’m awfully glad I came in,” replied Conner dreamily. “It’s not what I usually do.” Another alarm on his phone began to ring, and he managed to summon the strength to throw the device towards a trash can. It didn’t make the distance, and it shattered as it landed on the tile floor short of the target.
“What’s your name?” he asked the barista. “I’ll have to come by here again, sometime.” Then he passed out.
The barista continued to kneel beside him, and watched the slow rise and fall of his chest.
The paramedics arrived and Conner was soon on a stretcher and out the door to a waiting ambulance.
“They forgot his briefcase,” said the barista to nobody.