May 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

Patricia Goodwin

The painting contractor, Jake, is the kind of guy everyone in the coffee shop loves, and I hate. He’s loud in an overly friendly way. I’m a quiet, bookish woman and I like to sit in the corner where I can see everyone, but work by myself. Jake is in great shape with a tight ass in his clean painter whites. He wears these pristine whites to show off more than his tight ass. He no longer has to paint walls; he’s boss of a crew. His long white ponytail shows how hip he is. Jake has been sober for twenty years and he is absolutely joyous over his sobriety. He holds the coffee shop hostage with his joy. Jake is like an advertisement for a TV show you never watch, leaving you with details you never wanted to know. For instance, I know he takes Salsa lessons because he broadcast that news over the café. Still, I can imagine him on the dance floor. He’d be incredibly sexy to other women. He must be the darling of his salsa class, I realize from my table across the room.

One time he sat with me, uninvited. He sprawled his long legs out over the floor. He blew hard about his crew, how they’d better be working while he drank coffee; about his investment houses, how much money those “bitches” (his word) brought in for him; and about his Corvette.

I have no love for Corvettes. I have no hate for Corvettes. Then he showed me the cut on his finger.

“It’s just meat.” He said, curling the cut open for me to observe the fleshy red goo. “Look, all meat.”

I made the mistake of saying, “That’s disgusting! I’m trying to eat!”

He turned to me with a face that could kill. Quickly, I excused myself from my own table and left.

Weeks later, Jake sat with me, again, uninvited. He was beaming.

“You know,” he confided. “When you drink, you lose your brain cells. You can’t think. I was driving today and I saw this sign ‘20 miles to Braintree.’ I thought, ‘Wow! Brain. Tree.’ You know? A tree with brains! My brain was working!”

I couldn’t speak. I’d had that same conversation with my brother when I was seven and he was six. We’d laughed our heads off about Braintree and other funny names we’d heard on the news, like Furnace Brook Parkway and Breakheart. I knew if I told him only little kids were amazed by Braintree, his face would change and I would see his rage again. I hesitated.

“Ah, you don’t get it!” he dismissed me, and looked around for someone else to entertain.


In Patricia Goodwin is a writer and poet. Her novella ‘When Two Women Die: An Historical Novella of Marblehead, Telling of Two Murders Which Happened There, 301 Years Apart’ (Plum Press, 2012) is available now on amazon. Please visit to view other works.

Image: Street Heart, By Leigh-Anne Fraser


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§ 2 Responses to Braintree

  • Love it! Living 20 miles from Braintree has nothing to do with it! Knowing people like Jake has nothing to do with it! Ha!

  • Gabriele says:

    Halway through the first paragraph I’m laughing out loud. Such a vivid description of what to me too would be an unbearable customer in a coffee shop. But very enjoyable to read about the encounter. The last line kills. Loved the whole thing, every word of it.

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