Slow Train's Ties to the Mafia


“Hello?” I called out. “Mrs. Costello, are you here?” I tentatively pushed open Slow Train’s door. The overhead lights were off, yet the moonlight illuminated an ominous array of abandoned chairs. Mrs. Costello’s email clearly stated that my interview would be held at midnight. It seemed rather odd to host an interview two hours after closing, but I was hardly one to question a potential employer.

A glow glinting off the milk steamer caught my eye. I followed the hum of fluorescents to the basement door. I thought, perhaps Mrs. Costello had forgotten about the interview while caught up in backstock. As I descended the stairs I heard the fragments of a tense conversation.

“I heard you were having second thoughts about our deal.”

I froze mid-step while a second voice spoke frantically.

“Of course not! I swear, ma’am, I’m as loyal as the day we met. When that student emailed to ask if CDS was working to improve the quality of dining hall coffee, I had to say yes. You know, to placate them for the time being. But we aren’t! The coffee is as burnt and violently hot as ever. It’s just empty politics.”

I peered over the railing. Mike Lansky, Director of Campus Dining Services, was tied to a wooden chair and was sweating profusely as café tycoon Frances Costello slowly circled him.

“After years spent cultivating and executing this plan, I’ve finally monopolized the caffeine in this town. Slow Train, the Local…nowadays you can make more selling a Dirty Chai than a bottle of Adderall. If the dining hall coffee were actually decent, students would no longer feel the need to come to my cafés. Do you understand my problem, Mike?” She placed her hands on the back of his chair.

“Of course! This was a complete misunderstanding, ma’am. I’m not getting cold feet, I swear on my mother’s grave,” he promised, his voice vehement.

“Good. Because if you want to keep the rest of your family above ground and make sure that stipend’s still showing up in your bank account, you will keep the coffee tasting like caffeinated mud. Don’t underestimate me. I won’t be as generous the second time.” She squeezed his shoulder and smiled, “Support your local businesses.”

As stealthily as I could manage, I hurried up the stairs and out of the café. I was still reeling by the time I reached my dorm. Of course, I knew the dining hall coffee was subpar; paradoxically as bitter as a conservative when someone kneels for a minority movement* and as weak as my nana’s bones riddled with osteoporosis. However, I had never considered that mob activity had downgraded from heroin to over-roasted coffee beans. In that moment, I knew I had to expose the truth. If the Slow Train Mafia sees this…may God rest my soul. Please pray for me or Venmo me at @Grace-Smith-100.


*credit Steven Cozzuli

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