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The Rooster

It was bright and early in springtime Venice and Marcus was resting his tired arms on the handrail, looking over a small stream running past a cafe that was preparing to open. The morning dew blends in with the ecstatic flavor of roasted coffee beans and the sun was just about to shine its first beams onto the towering rooftops. The chirping and the distant accordion chimed in with the metal clanking of the tables and chairs being set up behind him. At times, a bicycle would zoom past the small bridge ahead of him. At times, an old grandma strolled along with a basket, heading towards the direction of the market. At times, even, a bird would perch on the handrails and started its morning symphony.

Signor Corsi?” The store owner tapped him on the shoulder and spoke in gentle Italian. “We’re ready, you can come in now.

Marcus hastily put out his cigarette and followed the old man in. The storefront was lit up with small bulbs and fairy lights and the old, dusty plastic plants that vined on the walls and doors and windows of the shop gave an antique feel to it. The old man slid behind the counter and filled the grinder with beans from two different glass jars. Marcus sat at the counter and rested his hands on the recently wiped countertop and patiently waited for his coffee. The owner was familiar with Marcus, of course, and his peculiar taste for coffee--a blend like no other. The richness and floral aromas of Arabica and the strong fizzy acidity of Kenyan ground. The smell of the ground is good, no doubt, but the owner must’ve wondered how Marcus came to acquire such a “strong” taste bud.

Buongiorno!” A newspaper boy came into the store and plops down a heavy stack of papers. The sour and powdery smell of the local papers permeated the store and the owner immediately took offense.

Bruno! What did I tell you last time?” He shouted over the loud noises from his hand grinder. “Leave them on your bike-” Then he noticed the bike tipping over on the ground, right in front of the entrance. “Bruno! Prop that up too! Give my customers an entrance, come on!

The kid hopped off his seat and muttered something under his breath while the owner screamed at him. It was just another day in this small part of Venice and even if the profane curses of these two seem to ruin it, the morning symphony wouldn’t be the same without their harmony.

The coffee brewed softly in the corner and its aromatic steam slowly dissipated the harsh morning paper smell. Bruno had just seated himself while grunting at the old man. Outside, one could hear the morning cock-a-doodle-doos of the district’s rooster.

Where do you think it’s perching today?” Young Bruno asked both the men in the store, probably trying to start a conversation.

Roosting.” Marcus answers. “Roosters roost. And my money says he’s on grandma Francine’s house.

Francine? I’d say Umberto’s! You could hear him West of here!

Marcus almost seemed offended by that, he leered at the old man as his coffee was being served. “Since when did you hear directions? Did losing 5 Euros the other day make you lose your marbles too?

The old store owner served Marcus his coffee and turned around to grind Bruno’s Robusta blend. “Marcus my boy! I’ve lived in this town for sixty two years! I know this place like the back of my hand! Watch… in the next five minutes, as Bruno’s coffee finishes, little Claudia will run in with the answer. And I will win back the 5 Euros I lost! As easy as that.

I doubt it old man.” Marcus laughed and shook his head. He then turned to Bruno and asked for the day’s paper. The kid ran outside and grabbed a paper while Marcus prepared a 1 Euro coin from his pocket. “What do we have today, kid?

There’s news about the Prime Minister, the secretary of foreign affairs, um… AC Milan lost-

That’s not surprising. Here you go, kid.” Marcus flicks the coin towards Bruno and goes back to his coffee while scanning the headlines. As everyone settled, a little girl came running into the store with a cute children’s farm hat.

Signori, signori! The rooster is on Umberto’s roof today!

The whole coffee store simultaneously groaned while the old man was laughing hard and slamming the counter. “What did I tell you kids, eh?! My senses never failed me.

You got lucky old man.

Say that to my face when you win five Euros next time. Ha-ha!

The air felt more lively now that the sun was fully up and its rays beaming onto the courtyard of the cafe. Canoes were now rowing across the stream outside the store and the women of the neighborhood were singing out the window. The vines in the coffee shop looked a little more lively from the morning rays and the place felt less dim. It was like a new breath of life had taken over the place.

“Marcus. It’s time for your therapy.” A ghostly voice called from beyond in plain English. Marcus smiled and put down his newspaper and stood up. “I gotta go, fellas. Doc is calling again.

We’ll miss you buddy. Come back tomorrow.

And just like that, Marcus reached for his head, clicked a button on the side and the display turned off. He took off the headset and smiled at the doctor standing by the side of his bed.

“You’re improving greatly, Marcus. Before long, you’ll be back in that cafe!” The doctor smiled back and helped Marcus to his wheelchair. “We’ll be doing some more walking exercises today. Gotta force your brain to make those connections you know?”

“I know. Wish the bullet didn’t hit my spine that day though.”

“It was unfortunate, yes, but at least you saved everyone in the cafe that day, no? I think they’ll be glad to see you again.”

“I hope so too, doc…”

The two wheeled off in the distance and just as fast as the sun had risen over the Venetian skylines, the two men were gone behind the closing doors of the physical therapy ward, both hoping for the day Marcus would recover and return to his daily routine in a quaint yet lively neighborhood in the corner of Venice.