Group #1 that keeps hassling me at my job: furries, who want a big Werewolf Daddy
Group #2 that keeps hassling me at my job: the local werewolf gang, who want a new "pup" for their "pack".
Group #3 that keeps hassling me at my job: the Dragomirs, a werewolf-hating family of vampires.
Please, God, I just want to make coffee.
. . .
ding! The little bell above my coffeehouse door announced a new person.
"Hello!" I said, "Welcome to Knot Coffee! What may I g– oh, it's you."
Group #2. "Well well well if it isn't the wolf in sheep's clothing!" Red Claw strutted towards me. Red Claw is the de-facto alpha of the pack, although they don't call her an alpha because they're supposed to be a non-hierarchial collective. "Nah I kid, Little Fang. How you doing babe? Running a whole store all by your lonesome... you gotta cut loose, sugar! Full moon tonight, y'know!"
I gave her my award-winning smile of feigned politeness. "My name's Charles. And yes I know it's a full moon. Would you like some coffee, Red Claw?"
"You know it sugarbuns," Red Claw grinned, "We'll need lots of caffeine to get wild tonight. Get me four large cups of black for me and my pals, and one more for you, on me."
"I don't need the coffee, thank you. Four coffees will be $9.21."
"Here's $20. Keep the change, smoochie-kins."
I poured them four large cups to go, trying not to make eye contact. Shoot, I'd forgotten it was already full moon. That meant I had to close shop early, rush back to my closet-sized apartment, and prepare my time-release iron cage to stay in there for the night.
I gave Red Claw the coffees. She winked. "Remember cutie, full moon! Tonight! Come find us!"
Then the pack left, while Blood Scent and High Tail debated about whether their names were too similar to that of Native American tribes and if they were perpetuating colonialism by being culturally appropriative.
. . .
ding! The little bell announced another new person, this time a teenager.
"Hello!" I greeted the kid, "Welcome to Knot Coffee, wh–"
"You can knot ME Wolf Daddy! OwO!!!"
"GET–" I threw a cinnamon-raisin bagel at them. "–OUT OF MY SHOP."
"UwU daddy you're so rough!" They took the bagel and left. "Byeee!~~~"
God damn it.
Why do they keep talking about knots?
. . .
ding! A family all holding umbrellas, even though (because) it's sunny out.
"Hello," I went through the routine, "Welcome to Knot Coffee, what may I get you?"
"Mmmmm yes, do you serve any... human blood?"
Sigh. "No Mr. Dragomir, this is a vegan, fair-trade coffeehouse. Would you like something else?"
"Mmmmm what about... goat's blood?"
"No, sir. I have a wide selection of coffees, teas, and gluten-free pastries. May I recommend the Pain au Chocolat, I–"
Mrs. Dragomir cut in. "Oh dear, darling, your French sounds absolutely dreadful!" She laughed. "...and I listen to the wails of the Damned every night!"
Then Mr. and Mrs. Dragomir walked out without buying anything. I try to love this job – no, I do love this job. I get to set my own hours, create a whole business from scratch, I get to define who I am. That's important. I define who I am. I'm not some dumb beast to mock with your family, I'm not some new collectible to add your pack, and I'm definitely not your Wolf Daddy.
I'm my own person, damn it! A person who just happens to turn into a wolf once a month!
I placed my head in my palms. There was already fur appearing on them.
"I'll have the Pain au Chocolat."
I looked up.
"Is this enough?" Miss Elena Dragomir handed me a collection of coins and bills. "Sorry I can't leave a large tip, I just started college and I must save for–"
"Hey, it's okay." I gave Elena back her money. "Pastry's on me today, okay?"
"Elena!" Mrs. Dragomir yelled through the coffeehouse window. "You get out of there at once, young woman!"
Elena sighed. "I wish I could've gotten into a school out of state. Don't get me wrong, I love my family, but–"
"–well, I'll see you around. Thank you for the pastry! Charles, right?"
"Y... yeah. Bye, Elena."
"Call me Ellie!"
She walked out the door, biting into her pastry. Vampires aren't allergic to chocolate, right? I'm pretty sure that's just werewolves.
. . .
Five p.m. Time to close up shop before the sun sets and the moon comes out and any customers try to–
ding! I hate that bell so much.
"Sorry, we're closed," I said while putting up a chair, "please come bOH GOD"
"Hey babe." Red Claw stood right behind me at nine feet tall, claws as big as my face. "Think we could get another round of coffee, Little Fang?"
"My name's CHARLES and," I started pouring them as much coffee as possible, "and don't sneak up on me like that!"
"Why don't you roll with us, Charles?" She motioned to the pack. "Us wolves gotta stick together."
I said nothing.
"Look, I get that being a moody, broody lone wolf is your thing, but seriously hun. You live alone, work alone, I mean... when was the last time you spoke to someone who wasn't a customer?"
I said nothing.
"You're one of us, you know. We're family."
Oh that was a cheap shot, bringing up family. "Here's your coffees. On the house. Please leave."
ding! Oh for f–
"Now you listen here you beast," Mrs. Dragomir pulled Ellie behind her, while Mr. Dragomir followed. "I want you to apologize for forcing such a filthy excuse for a confectionery upon my daughter! I don't care if it's a 've-gane' bastardization of a classic treat, we demand–"
Mrs. Dragomir turned to Red Claw. "–who's this mangy mutt?"
Red Claw bared her fangs. "What did you say, bloodsucker?"
"Only service animals are allowed in locations that serve food. Are you this man's support dog?"
The pack gathered behind Red Claw. "You may need a support dog after I tear your eyes out."
"Sharp choice of words from a travelling petting zoo."
I rushed between them. "Okay, break it up! Or take it outside where I'm not legally liable. This coffeehouse is closed, you need to–"
"Not until you apologize to my daughter for that dreadful dessert, mister!"
"Mother, really it's alright it tasted fine!"
My head was hurting. "Coffeehouse's closed, please–"
"Hey babe, let's claw this old crone apart. Just you and me, honey."
"Young man, I demand a full refund for your miserable parody of a pastry!"
"It was free, Mother!"
My blood was rushing. "Would you all just–"
"Sweetie, you really gonna take it from this hag?"
"You brute, will you allow this beast to get the better of you?"
"Mother you can't call them that!"
My teeth turned to fangs. "KNOT COFFEE." My fingers turned to claws. "IS CLOSED." My spine cracked into an arc. "HOURS ARE FROM SIX TO FIVE ON WEEKDAYS." Dark, thick fur burst from my skin. "AND TEN TO THREE ON WEEKENDS." My clothes tore apart, as I grew to a full size of 20 feet, filling up the whole store and squashing the werewolf pack and Dragomir family against the glass windows. "NOW KINDLY PLEASE–"
I howled. "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SHOP."
The wolf pack rushed out first, tails between their legs. Red Claw gave me a smile, then trotted off.
Mr. Dragomir said, "Mmmmm it appears I have soiled myself." Then he and Mrs. Dragomir left the store. Ellie stayed behind.
"Elena darling," Mrs. Dragomir called to her, "we have to go h–"
Ellie cut in. "Eat my period blood you withered old cuss."
Mrs. Dragomir froze, then fainted. Mr. Dragomir caught her fall, and looked at Ellie. "Mmmmm be back before sunrise, young lady. We shall deal with you later." Then he flew off with his unconscious wife.
It was just me and Ellie in the wrecked store.
I slowly returned to human form. "Wow, you really called your mom the c-word?"
"She'll understand." Ellie rubbed her forearm. "We're family."
We both just stood there for a while, amidst the overturned tables and broken chairs.
Ellie winced. "So, uh, it appears you have a lot to clean up. Do you have any other staff?"
"Well... you can't clean this tonight by yourself, for you have to return home before the full moon's completely out."
"But if you had an employee, she could clean for you."
"Would be a lot of work to unfairly put on a new hire."
"Perhaps, but she may be a poor college student and need more money. And besides, she has no plans for the rest of the evening, and could start tonight if you wanted."
"That would be convenient."
"Moreover, she always wanted to work for a big, rough Wolf Daddy."
"I'm joking! I'm joking! Haha, wow, you should have seen your face!"
"Thanks. Thanks Ellie."
"Hey, you're welcome. And, thank you."
"...for being you."
"Well, it's inspiring. There so many things that want you to be not you – friends, family, society, in your case even the moon is against you. But despite all this, you're still... you. And, being yourself, isn't that the hardest thing in the world? Isn't that the most worthwhile thing in this dumb world?"
I had nothing to add. I smiled. We talked for a bit more, I gave Ellie the keys to the shop, and let her know to call me in case she needed help. (though I may be stuck in a time-release iron cage when she called) Then I left, swinging the door wide open, allowing the bell to announce one more new person.