Think ’em though first …


“Have y’ made y’ New Year’s Resolutions yet?”

I know that voice. The Sage has materialised alongside me—as the only person in Starbucks who can see him I now have a problem. Two problems—him, and his insatiable thirst for coffee, my coffee. I feel, as ever, singularly plagued.

New Year’s resolutions? No. I don’t do those. A resolution is just another way to lie to myself. And I don’t like the way he’s eyeing my huge coffee mug, freshly poured and richly aromatic. I draw it closer. Dammit, I slap my hand down palm first on top of it. Beat that, pest.



Hot hot hot—

Score one for The Sage but at least I get to lick my foamy palm—and catch the eye of the pretty girl behind the counter; I suddenly have to desperately fight the urge to wash behind my ears with it. Purr. Her eyes go wide.

Resolution? Perhaps I could resolve to spend less time in coffee shops and libraries?

“Do that, Lad, and they’ll carry y’ off on a stretcher inside a week. Flag it away.”

Okay. Plan B … spend more time with The Spouse?

“No, Son—y’ve trimmed them sails well enough. Hold y’ course, she’s happy.”

Bring her more flowers? Don’t ladies like flowers? The roses are splendid right now—

“Don’t worry, Lad. She’s long since forgiven you for that last lot.”

Gorgeous, they were. How was I to know that every splendid bloom was host to hordes of horrible earwigs? When they started dripping out all over her sinkbench … brrr! It took me ages running about with a matchbox to catch them all. Agile little buggers.

Damn. It seems that I’m custom bound to resolve something. Something valid, something realistic, achievable and not too difficult yet not too easy—but what?

A sudden reflexive glance at my mug disconcerts me even more, it’s missing … nothing. Nary a slurp nor suck has been surreptitiously sipped. Is he unwell? Can a disembodied spirit fall ill? Perhaps he’s stricken by a caffeine under-dose. Dammit, I’m beginning to feel a wee bit guilty, perhaps I do tend to hog my own coffee whenever I get the chance. Okayyyyy:

(Deep breath, and—) “I hereby resolve to always … always always always … share my coffee with you. Equal shares.”

Wow, that really hurt, I didn’t know I had it in me. Anyway, too late to retract it now, words once spoken can never be recalled—

“Thank ‘ee kindly, Lad. That’s a truly noble vow, ’tis indeed!”

He disappears himself with a gentle fizzying sound and immediately a goodly dose of my coffee does likewise. Bugger. Only I can hear the ungenteel burp and the soul-shivering softly spoken query that follows—

“Penalty, Lad?”

“Penalty?” Damn, I didn’t mean to croak like that.

“It’s all part of it, Son. If y’ breaks y’ vow it costs y’ a handsome forfeit.”

Eek. I don’t want to hear forfeit.

“And what … forfeit … are we suggesting, here?”

I sense his grin, wide, honest, open, wolfish; even though I can’t see it. I hate it when he goes under cover.

“Obvious, Lad—anytime y’ forgets your vow and hogs the tankard … ye forfeits the entire measure. To me.”


Wait—escape clause?

No, not a show in hell. He’s wrapped it up as tight as any lawyer. Hold on—

“Hey! What about your resolution, dammit?”

“Not right now, Son—our hearts is too full—”

I snort. I’ll have to go for the jugular, no more Mister Nice Guy; if he can’t match my resolution than all reverts to status quo and I’m off the hook.

“—but I did have one all ready for you. Can’t use it now, though—”

Hah! He’s stalling! He’s on the ropes! Time to press home my advantage.

A momentary pang seizes me but I crush it ruthlessly. If it were me dead in the water and going down by the bows he’d come alongside and give me a few more broadsides, he’s definitely the no-quarter sort.

“Come on! You had one—what was it? Give!”

“Can’t be used now, Son.”


There’s a silence that goes on for so long I begin to think he’s sneaked off under cover of invisibility, then comes a happy sigh. A contented happy sigh, the worst possible kind in an opponent.

“Me resolution, Son, which can’t possibly be used now, all gone, sunk, scuppered … was to resolve to never again half-inch any of your blessed coffee. Not a single drop, nary a gulp, sip, slurp, or lick.”

Too late a reflex kicks in and my hand clamps firmly over the top of the mug but it’s already empty. Wisely he quits the scene, leaving me to stare back in embarrassment at the too many sets of eyes startled by the sudden explosive sound of his departure from this realm, a sound somewhat reminiscent of a stepped on duck.

Grimly I make a new New Year’s Resolution—

“At all costs, however long it takes, and whatever it involves … I’LL GET HIM FOR THIS~!




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