FICTION – Black Coffee by Adam Wolfsdorf

The light from the sky cut through the nebulous clouds, hit the window of the café, and spread out across her face. In her coffee colored, wool turtle neck sweater and tightly formed black skirt, Claire had never looked more beautiful. The rising fabric extending from her collar bone to her chin, and the falling fabric, pulling down from her torso to her navel, had the effect of accentuating what were already beautifully round, firm, and fertile breasts. He sat at the other side of the circular table and looked at her- looked at the way her thick, wavy, amber hair lifted from the top of her forehead, flowed down past her earlobes, moved past her neck and straddled, almost perfectly, along the ridges of her shoulder blades. He examined her face- the peachy, ivory texture of her cheeks, dappled with hints of raspberry blush; the subtle turquoise and lilac shades above her eyelids; the black eye-liner penciled calligraphically below her eyes, and the narrow, delicately sloping curve of her nose. He studied the moist exotic, cranberry depth of her pursed, pungent lips, and then, leaning back in his chair so that he could take it all in one final, solitary time, the following thought drowned all of these microscopic observations: he hated every last drop of her, and couldn’t believe that his will to fuck her had so powerfully outrun all of his deeper senses of reason.

“How do you take your coffee?” the plump, pear shaped waitress cut through.

“I take it black,” he said, without shifting his eyes from her face.

“No cream? No sugar? Nothing?”

“Black means black,” he said, his voice neither rising nor receding.

Magda- that was the waitress’ name- raised her eyebrows and turned her chin towards Claire, who, as usual, seemed blithely unaware of anything. “What do you want?”

“She doesn’t want anything,” said Toby. “She never wants anything.”

“I’ll have some water,” Claire said, not noticing that he had spoken for her.

“That’s not nothing,” Magda hovered over him.

“It’s nothing. It’s enough nothing, that it’s nothing.”

Claire neither responded nor failed to respond. Her lips curled up towards the sides of her cheeks, breaking into what was almost a smile, but a smile related to nothing- almost like a fixed action pattern. A bug lands on your arm, and you raise your hand to swat it. The bug flies off your arm. It doesn’t think. It just does it. It’s not premeditated. It’s in the bug’s DNA. It deserves no credit for saving its own life. A bug that doesn’t fly when a hand is raised to swat it, is not a bug at all. When Claire smiled- half smiled- the way she was currently half-smiling, it was pretty clear to Toby and to just about anybody in the world with exactly or approximately 46 chromosomes in each cell, that she had no idea whatsoever, nor particularly cared, why she was ‘smiling’.

“That’s all you’re ordering? You don’t want an omelet or nothing?”

Toby wasn’t hungry. He knew Claire wouldn’t eat anything, but he also didn’t know how long this would take, and he didn’t want the waitress pressuring them or urging them out before it was done.

“I’ll have steak and eggs,” Toby said, folding the menu and presenting it to the waitress.

“Steak and eggs, one black coffee- no sugar, milk, splenda, or cream- and one glass of water,” Magda blurted out like a drill sergeant, while scribbling the details onto an order pad. Then, turning to Claire, “Ice?”

“What?”

“She’s asking if you want ice in your water?”
Claire’s gaze shifted down towards her lap. The furrow of her brow wrinkled, and her eyes began to shift thoughtlessly back and forth.

“I don’t know,” she stared up at Toby. “What do you think?”

“What do I think about whether or not you should get ice in your tap water?”

“Yeah,” she was really looking at him- vacantly searching his face for the answer.

“I think this is a really complicated decision.”

“It is, right?” her beautifully curved navel jutted out suddenly, as she let out a sharp, unanticipated laugh.

“If you decide to get ice, your water will be colder, but then you’ll have to worry about whether or not you chew the ice, or push it away with your tongue when you sip. If you don’t get ice, the water probably won’t be as cold as you like, and then you’ll feel upset because I know how much it bugs you to drink lukewarm water.”

Claire’s eyes widened suddenly at the mention of the word ‘lukewarm’.

“So, it’s basically which you think is the lesser of two evils- the physical annoyance and effort imposed on your mouth and tongue by floating ice cubes, or the unfortunate agitation of imbibing water that’s just not quite as cold as you wish it were.”

The waitress inhaled heavily, and her pattern of breathing changed. “I’ve never heard anybody talk like this about ice water.”

“Well, we’ve got a unique person over here….. Magda,” he read her name tag, “and…. well…. unique people think about traditional problems in unique ways.”

Claire turned her head sharply to the waitress, her chin tilting up, so that she was staring, diagonally, into the waitress’ agitated eyes.

“I don’t think it matters. How about if I bring you a glass of water, then bring another cup with ice on the side?”

Claire turned her face happily to meet Toby’s, an unforeseen twinkle gleaming in her eyes. Yes, there was indeed a solution after all.

She then looked back at Magda and nodded, self-satisfied.

“Ok. Steak and eggs, one black coffee- no sugar, milk, splenda, or cream- and one glass of water with no ice, and a glass with ice….. on the side.”

Claire smiled, feeling understood.

Magda pirouetted weightily, and b-lined through the swinging doors into the kitchen, leaving boyfriend and girlfriend alone at last.

Claire was undoubtedly and exquisitely beautiful. It was the type of physical attractiveness that caused both men and women to stop in their tracks along a busy street, and stare an extra beat or two. For many, the beat or two turned into a look away, resume walking, then turn back to verify the exceptional specimen they had just seen. She was a once in a lifetime type beauty- not just in face but in body, as well. She was the type of girl a guy imagined when he first began to enter the initial stages of puberty- a woman airbrushed by God to perfection. Every curve, every fold of skin, every proportion, and every dimension. If you used a scanning electron microscope, it would have been hard to locate more than a few subtle deviations from flawlessness.

Toby knew all this- he knew that beautiful women wasted men’s time. He knew that the pursuit of sex, whether attainable or not, distracted even great men from their deeper pursuits. His father had referred to it as “the power of the P”. Toby remembered sitting at the dinner table with his father, and listening to his father pontificate about the dangerous “power of the P”.

“If you’re trying to figure out whether you like a girl,” Arthur had said, “masturbate before the first date”.

“Arthur!” Sarah had exclaimed, while looking up from her plate.

“Masturbate before the first date. If you still like her after that, then it’s possible there’s something real there.”

“You want me to masturbate, dad?”

“Not at the moment, no. But before the first date, yes.” There was no hesitation in Arthur’s voice.

“Interesting.”

Sarah had gotten up and left the table.

“I can’t tell you how many good men I’ve seen go down in a ball of flames by chasing after the wrong type of girl.”

Toby had hesitated, trying to take it all in. “So….. you’re saying I should marry a dog.”

“No. She doesn’t have to be a dog.”

“She just has to be ugly?”

“No. You just need to make sure that you’re with her for the right reasons.”

“And what reasons would those be, dad?”

Arthur had hesitated for a moment, himself. “Because you like her. Because you value her as a person. She should be your best friend.”

At the time of that conversation, Toby hadn’t fully understood his father’s advice. But in recent months, while trying to extract himself from the seductive clasp of Claire’s vagina, Toby had re-examined and internalized his father’s advice. As he had allowed his research projects in astronautical physics to deteriorate, and official deadlines to pass unsuccessfully, Toby had become highly self-analytic, and the only thing he had been able to pin his recent distractibility on were the smooth hips and perfectly rounded breasts of Claire Robeson.

While lying with his naked body pressed against hers, he had wondered what might have become of Martin Luther King’s dream, had the civil rights leader been sucked into the lascivious temptations of a brothel. He had thought about Mahatma Gandhi, and wondered if his hunger strike would have buckled under the force of a lactating nipple. The thought caused the blood in his veins to burn with acidic electricity.

“Where’s my black coffee?” Toby’s eyes scanned the room. Magda was at the other side of the room, taking an order from an elderly couple in the corner. He raised his arm and waved it back and forth, but he failed to catch her attention. Magda then turned towards the kitchen and disappeared behind the swinging doors.

“Is everything ok?” Claire had taken out her compact and was examining herself, her head tilted slightly.

“Is everything ok….” His voice trailed off. “How, exactly, do you mean that question?”

He had enjoyed their first date. She had wanted to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It had been a crisp, clear blue day, with a slight, easterly wind and no more than a few, wispy clouds. He could still recall the way the February sun had driven down from the sky, pierced the vertical windows of the skyscrapers surrounding 601 5th avenue, and careened down onto the ice-skaters below. He recalled the smooth feeling of frozen water beneath the blade of his feet, as he dug his heal into the ice. Claire had huddled close to him while they circled the rink, her downy, sable-colored fleece nestling into his long, navy overcoat. She had worn Joy by Jean Patou. A woman’s greatest hypnotizer is dissolved in her scent. Toby remembered his knees almost buckling, when the first hints of her sensuous fragrance wafted over him. Everything had seemed so worth it then.

They had followed ice-skating with lunch at Serendipidity on 60th. They had shared a single frozen hot chocolate. Noses red and cheeks flushed, Toby and Claire had leaned across the table, hips perched slightly above the seat. That was the first time he had allowed himself to look at her completely- to take in all elements of her beauty. There was simply no other way to describe it. She was perfectly molded. Her cyan blue eyes seemed to extend infinitely in depth, like a mirror positioned opposite a second mirror. The more he looked into them, the more he was amazed by each of the luxurious levels.

“You’re quiet today.”

“I am.”

“What are you thinking about?”

“Us.”

“What do you want to do for New Year’s?”

The waitress returned- carrying a glass of water and a separate cup of ice. She placed these down in front of Claire.

“The coffee’ll be up in a few minutes. Sorry about that. We had to brew a new batch.”

Toby nodded. “What kind of coffee do you use?”

“I’m not sure. Some Italian roast, I think.”

“Nobody ever asked you?”

“Nope. You’re the first. You want me to find out?”

“If you want.”

“Well, it should be up soon, anyway. And the steak and eggs are coming, too.”

Toby didn’t say anything. Magda shrugged her shoulders and left. He followed her with his eyes.

“There are thousands of types of coffee, Claire.”

She was still admiring herself in her small compass.

“Thousands. You’d think a place like this would know what type they serve.”

“I suppose so, yeah.” Claire didn’t care about the coffee.

“I’m a coffee man, myself, Claire. I’m….. particular about what I’ll drink and what I won’t drink.” He paused for a minute. “Want to know what type of coffee I like best?”

“Ok,” she said after a slight pause. And then, as though it were sort of an after-thought, she continued: “You’re acting weird.”

“A great cup of coffee-” Toby began, and then stopped. A younger guy in what appeared to be his college years was sitting at a nearby table.

“See that kid over there?”

Claire was confused.

“The kid with the hoodie?”

Claire scanned the room until her eyes landed on a girl near the back. She was wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt. She looked back at Toby, smiling.

“Not her. She’s female. I’m talking about the guy two tables to our right.”

Claire’s eyes looked up towards the ceiling, as she attempted to get her bearings. She counted softly under her breath, then, figuring it out, nodded and turned sharply to face a curly haired young man, who was trying to figure out how the sugar dispenser worked.

“You see him?”

Claire nodded.

“He’s on the verge of fucking up his coffee.”

Her face pulled back.

“Before you got here, he drowned the thing in milk- probably poured half a cup in there. What’s the point of coffee, if you’re gonna kill it with milk?”

Claire had no reaction.

“He’s about to figure out how the sugar dispenser work, and at that point he’ll finish off the assassination for good.”

“He’s going to assassinate his coffee?”

“He’s gonna murder it. It’s not even gonna be coffee by the time he’s finished with it.”

Toby looked over at him, and watched as the kid gripped the dispenser tight. The kid didn’t realize that all you had to do was tilt the thing, and the metallic fold would lift, allowing the sugar to dispense.

“Rookie,” Toby mumbled.

The kid tensed up. He began to shake his head and then, suddenly, a new idea occurred to him. He placed his right hand on top of the dispenser and began to twist off the top.

“Oh Jesus,” said Toby. “I didn’t think he’d go that far. This is about to get really bad.”

The kid used the muscles in his forearm to twist off the lid, and then placed the top on the table’s surface.

“3-2-1,” Toby counted down, shaking his head.

The kid lifted the dispenser and titled it over the coffee. The sugar, which had been trapped in the container, gushed out and careened with a thud, into the mug.

“Shit,” the kid said, throwing up his arms and dropping the dispenser.

“Told you,” said Toby, his eyes still on the kid. “Now he’s gonna try it anyway, because he doesn’t want to admit defeat. But deep down he knows his coffee’s over.”

The kid smirked to himself, but it wasn’t a self-satisfied smirk. It was the smirk of a loser- a loser who, because he has lost, digs in with an intention to win. I’m gonna enjoy this cup of coffee, anyway, his demeanor broadcasted. The kid pierced aggressively at the mug. Then, he reached his right hand forward and wrapped his thumb around the handle. He raised it to his lips and tilted the cup. The milky, saturated substance viscously drained into his mouth and ran slowly down the back of his throat. He cringed, but that didn’t stop him. He was now determined to enjoy what was utterly impossible to like.

“Now it’s really got him. He’ll do anything, now, to convince himself that this is what he’s wanted all along.”

Claire took out her compact again and began to admire herself again in the small mirror.

“That’s what young people do. They justify even the stupidest choices, because they’re too weak to internalize the power of learning from their mistakes.” A subtle smile crossed over Toby’s lips. “How’s the coffee man?” Toby said loudly, lifting his chin and raising his eyebrows.

The kid turned and looked at him. The kid pointed his right index finger towards his chest, as if to say, Me?

“Yeah. You. How is it?”

The kid sniffed. He then wiped his nose, as the sugary syrup rolled down the back of his throat and down past his lungs.

“It’s good.”

“Good,” said Toby, “because I’ve got some coming my way. I’ve never been here before. You?”

“Yeah. I come here all the time. It’s my spot.”

“Cool,” Toby nodded his head up and down. “Thanks.”

“Cool,” the kid nodded his head up and down, too, then turned back to his mistake.

“This is his spot, and he doesn’t even know how to use the sugar dispenser,” Toby muttered, half to Claire and half to himself. “People are unbelievable.”

He turned back to face Claire, who seemed confused by what was going on.

“You’re in an unusual mood today.”

“I suppose I am,” he said.

She reached her hand across the table and placed it on top of his. The warmth of her smooth palm radiated through his knuckles and moved up towards his finger tips. She perched up and leaned over, her ambrosial scent accompanying her movement across the table. Her torso angled down, as she placed her other hand against the side of his cheek. She kissed his forehead with her soft lips.

“You think too much, honey.” She moved back just enough, so that they were now face to face. “You always think too much, but especially today. I think you’re breaking records today.”

“We’re not very much alike in that way, are we?” he asked, rhetorically.

“Not in that way, no.” She returned her hips to her chair.

“You don’t care what I think about coffee, do you?”

She paused for a moment. “It’s not that I don’t care.” She hesitated for a moment and lowered her eyes to think. It was the first time he had seen her thinking all day. “I care that you care.”

His mind began to think more about coffee. It became, for the next several moments- perhaps longer- the only thing he wanted to think about. He thought about the richness and complexity of a well-drawn cup. He thought about the various textures and depths of a Guatemalan blend verses an Iranian blend, verses an Ethiopian blend, verses a Columbian blend. He thought about the hints of caramel and berry endemic to Fazenda Santa Ines coffee. He thought about Blue Mountain coffee, which was harvested on Jamaica, and whose beans cost $45 per 500 grams. But there were much more expensive beans. For instance, Kopi Luwak could run up to $590 per 500 grams for this Indonesian blend which is secreted from the Luwak animal, because it cannot digest the raw coffee beans it eats. Toby thought about La Esmeralda, priced at $100 per 500 grams; these beans were produced on the farm Esmeralda Jaramillo in the mountains of West Panama. It was known for its intensity and strong taste, which experts attributed to the cold climate and careful harvesting of the bean. Toby was hardly a barista, but he knew how to distinguish mediocrity from excellence. He could taste the difference between Kenyan and Arabian, but he couldn’t tell you the exact region the beans came from, like some coffee aficionados. The barista, Greg, at his favorite coffee shop- the Blue Bottle Coffee Company in Williamsburg- Greg could tell these differences. He could tell the temperature at which the beans had been harvested. He could predict the potency of a cup based on the beans aroma, before it was even brewed. He could tell you what made Hacienda la Esmeralda Geisha Panama’s finest blend. He could tell you that El Injerto was overpriced, especially for a Guatemalan bean. He could tell you about Neal Stephenson, who had picked up his coffee-making technique from Chris Young, the acclaimed food scientist. He could tell you had to use a French Press if you wanted to make an exquisite cup of coffee; and that you had to “skim” the grounds from the top of the coffee before plunging. Greg would tell you about the importance of the brewing ratio. He’d say that 70 grams of ground per liter of water is ideal. He’d tell you that brewing time needs to be consistent- “about four minutes,” Greg would say. He’d tell you not to cover the press during steeping. “That’s a rookie mistake most ‘experts’ make,” he’d say. But, in the end, he’d emphasize that skimming makes the most difference. He’d tell you emphatically that “by skimming the cake of swollen grounds before plunging, you throw out a lot of these fines, so you end up with less overextraction and a cleaner mouthfeel”. Greg knew his coffee. Toby appreciated coffee, but there was more he needed to know. If he was going to get to Greg’s level, he had to get to the point where he could overcome his superficial knowledge and truly understand all the levels of depth and clarity so obviously apparent to a master barista.

Toby looked up from his thoughts, and turned his eyes squarely on Claire.

“I’m breaking up with you,” he said suddenly, without a hint of vacillation.

“What?” she said, seeming to barely hear him.

“I’ve been thinking for a long time, about how wrong we are for each other.”

She paused for a moment. “You and me?”

“Yes,” his voice trailed off. Then, after a moment, he added, “Us.”

“Us?”

“Yeah….. yes.”

Her eyebrows collapsed and then rose. Her shoulders relaxed, and she leaned her forearms against the tabletop. One by one, her fingers began to tap against the wooden surface, as he sat watching her.

“Why?” she uttered, after a minute.

He considered lying to her, but then decided against it. He had lied to her for too long- had lied to himself. Had lied about everything. So he would tell her the truth, as much as it was an awful truth. He would tell it like it is- straight- like black coffee. He would give her the bitter reality.

“I don’t love you. That’s number one.” He could see the blow landing against her stomach, as he watched the lump in her throat lift, tighten, then drop. “I never loved you, but that’s not even the real reason.”

He watched her lips begin to draw back, and her tongue move out towards the edge of her jaw. He could see the moisture draining from her mouth.

“Should I stop?”

Her eyes honed in and seemed to gain focus, the way somebody looks when they’re staring down the barrel of a loaded shot gun.

“Tell me.”

“You want me to tell you?”

“Tell it straight!” she yelled, causing his ears to perk up and his eyebrows to rise. A few customers turned to look at them- a fact which Toby took in, but Claire seemed to ignore or not be aware of.

“Tell me the fucking truth, you pussy.” There was a dry, venomous clarity in her voice- something distinct from anything he had previously heard protrude from her lips. “Or are you too much of a pansy coward? Like you’ve always been,” the beginning of her rant ended in a punctuated stop.

Toby’s brain began to swirl.

“You think you’re the only one with feelings?” she continued. “You probably think it’s been perfect on this end?” She really dug into that word, ‘perfect’. “Together for over a year, and not one conversation about the future- about where this is all going. About us.” Her hips rose from the chair. “You talk about your philosophy- about your physics,” she said, as though physics was something he was capable of owning. “About your career and your ‘intellectual pursuits’….. but never once have you looked at me directly and said, ‘Claire, let’s talk about our shared goals’. And I keep sitting here, like an idiot, relentlessly hoping that at some point you’re going to open your mouth and say something positive about where this is all going. But it doesn’t happen.” Her eyes narrowed and then widened, as though they were refueling for her final line: “You never had the balls to look at me directly and give it to me. You never had the balls to give it to me like a man,” and with that final exclamation, the base of her stomach heaved, vertically, and a clot of repressed energy thrust forward into her throat, where it stuck, temporarily, like a wounded animal attempting, somewhat successfully, to free itself from a intensifying trap.

Toby sat and stared at her, as her chest continued to rise and fall, heavily, under the powerful expansion and contraction of several weighty, compelling breaths. The breaths soon gave way to semi-audible moans, and the moans were accompanied by a further tightening in the throat, and the tightening by a flush of scarlet rushing into her cheeks, and then, to culminate the entire progression, the bottom of her eye lids filled with tears and began to fall down over her swollen cheeks.

At was at this point, when actual tears began to pour from her sky-blue eyes, that Toby wondered, somewhat compulsively, whether perhaps he had pushed it too far, after all, he had no interest in breaking her. He simply wanted to extract himself from her clutches- from his clutches- from the way that he allowed her to clutch him. After all, this wasn’t altogether her fault. He was complicit in it. He had allowed her beauty and his wishes for what he hoped she would be to color his better judgment, and in that delusional fantasy world which he had created, she had come to represent all the myriad possibilities which his creative imagination could summons. At one point, she had even seemed to be his personal Helen of Troy. But how mightily that weighted fantasy had crumbled under the cold and careful scrupulousness of time’s realistic equation. And now, as he sat- momentarily deciding whether or not the God’s honest truth might actually kill her altogether- he struggled to come to terms with the potential repercussions of 13 peculiar months of tangled despair.

“Do you want me to be honest?” he began, sort of hating himself for requiring himself to ask her permission for the impending blow.

“Yes,” she said, her voice trapped in a sea of tears.

“We are utterly and totally wrong for each other,” he began, feeling a rising power balloon into his own chest, though, at the same time, feeling it tighten.

“Wrong how?” she asked, doing her best to support her anguish with two trembling elbows.

“When this all began, I was infatuated with your beauty,” he began, her beautiful face staring up at him, though mired in pain. “And that beauty lasted a long time. When we’d first kiss or touch each other- when I first lay naked with my body pressed up against yours- I’d often envy even myself for being fortunate and blessed enough to have access to your exquisiteness.”

She gulped.

“But as things began to move forward, and as I allowed the dizzying haze of my hormones to quiet down enough to see what lay behind your exotic surface, I started to realize how hollow you are, and how porcelain.”

She seemed confused by the word porcelain.

“And once my mind began to shed a touch of light into discovering who you are behind the exquisite surface, my own sense of self-esteem and self-worth began to plummet, uncontrollably, because within six weeks of knowing you, I have known whole-heartedly that you mean nothing more than sex to me, and how can a man of my capabilities possibly respect himself, when he is cashing in all of his intellectual, emotional, and karmic chips in exchange for a lustful, guttural act such as this.”

“Such as what?” she asked, clearly confused.

“Such as fucking you,” he said, without any hesitation.

Light pierced through the window and cut across his eyes, causing Toby to shift in his chair.

“Is that all I am to you?” she said, the dimple in her chin deepening, as she stretched her neck up from her collar bone.

“No. That’s all you are.”

Silence followed. A numb, deep, protruding, deafening, toxic, transmuting, beleaguering, slow, audacious, disconcerting, rancid, purifying, and hypnotically fatal silence. Beyond the magnetic orb of Toby and Claire’s terminal cocoon, spoons clanked against ceramic bowls, knives cut into medium cooked steaks, hands grasped for greasy chicken fingers, and Magda, hustling, moved from table to table, writing down orders, collecting tips, and pouring long cups of coffee for desperately ordinary and mundanely eager customers. But inside the former couple’s cocooned sphere, all that could be heard was the sterilizing progression towards the utterance of the last words the previously attracted lovers would ever speak to each other. Their chests continued to rise and fall, in rhythm, under the weight of the terminal, impending split.

Claire made the first ostensible move. She reached her right hand over the back of her chair and grabbed her scarf, which had been lying partially concealed within her carry bag. Lifting it into the air to the extent of an almost fully extended arm, she bent her elbow towards her left shoulder and proceeded to wrap her neck round with the silken garment. Avoiding his eyes, she next clutched her jacket and placed one arm at a time through the wool, navy colored thick sleeves. Faster now, she placed her compass in her hand bag, fluttered her head back and forth sharply, pierced her eyes, scratched her temple, shuffled her right heel, and then, with the finality endemic to somebody who has no choice but to be final, b-lined with almost equine clarity to the exit of Ernie’s Famous Upper West Side Diner. Toby watched her shuffle through the front entrance, and then followed her as she waved for a cab, succeeded in acquiring one, flung open the door, and drove out of his life forever.

At precisely that moment, Magda arrived with a plate full of hot steak and eggs. When he had ordered it, Toby had not been hungry at all. He had only wanted the coffee. But suddenly and unexpectedly, he found that he was excited for the food and ready to eat and eat well. Lifting his fork and knife with a strange sense of triumph, Toby began, what he spontaneously believed, would become one of the most enjoyable breakfasts of his young adult life.

Adam Wolfsdorf is a doctoral student in English Education at Columbia University.  Adam did his undergraduate work in English Literature at Harvard University with an emphasis on Shakespeare.  He currently teaches Shakespeare, American Literature, and Writing.  Adam is developing a novel called “The Greek Apology”, which is a doomed love story set in New York.  His featured piece in Catch and Release, “Black Coffee”, is about what happens to a couple when physical beauty is the only thing binding them.

Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.

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