the case of the forlorn finger

July 20, 2007 – 11:06 am

one in a series: tales of coffee woe you, too, could experience were you enough of a self-flagellating masochist.

in one of those desert scrub towns that huddle, no more than five buildings total, along the colorado highways south of denver, nate the finger checked into a motel. on the internet, it was known as a best western. in person, the sign read, “movie manor.”

the finger was doing some contract work, had time to slaughter, and had noticed that nearly every dusty outpost along the drive boasted a cafe of sorts. he took care to note this in his head — “of sorts.” as he unsealed his room, nate flipped a wall switch and immediately heard the voice of bruce willis. not someone like bruce willis, or the distant sound of a patron playing his bruce willis movie too loud. it was bruce, from “die hard,” piped directly into his room via loudspeaker.

this wasn’t entirely incompatible with the movie manor, which used a wallpaper border that prominently featured marilyn monroe and elvis presly. minutes later, the finger discovered that if he opened the curtains on a large, rear picture window he could see — ahhhh — the rockies. also, a drive-in movie theater. with the proper hotel-room chair positioning, he could watch “die hard” on at least 100 feet of screen, and get the sound directly above his head. clearly, this was a place of aesthetic wonder and modern innovation.

as such, the coffee options were diverse, and he tried them all. there was a place of russian import with a faema, whose barista steamed milk like a farm hand might churn butter, plunging her screaming steam wand vigorously in and out of a milk pitcher to create bubbles the size of potatoes. there was also a joint that sold prayer rocks and incense, which used only organic patchouli and offered three ounces of raven’s roast coffee, completely devoid of bubbles or crema, as “espresso.” he could see the bottom of his cup through the liquid.

last we heard, the finger was sitting in his hotel room, waiting for “die hard” to come on again.

UPDATE: the finger informs us that such western desert ignominy was merely a dramatic foil for a trip into denver, and a heady experience at cafe novo. lines of aricha snorted off the counter? check. a clovered cup of the blog-favored panama bambito estate? check. the redemptive grand coffee narrative salvaged from the colorado wasteland? check.