Despite his all-black attire, flowing cape, and pasty face, the barista still gives him a signature “Welcome to Starbucks!” smile.
“Hi there,” she greets. “Can I interest you in any of our new lunch items today?”
“Those cake pops do look tasty,” the vampire says, gazing greedily into the pastries display, “but no thanks. I’ll take a Venti iced triple-shot soy white mocha with no whip, added caramel drizzle, and extra blood.”
The barista chuckles, thinking she misheard.
“Yeah, it’s a bit much, I know. Normally I do a double-shot of espresso but I didn’t sleep much today. I got this new coffin and the polyester lining isn’t as comfy as the old one’s velvet material, so it’s gonna be a triple shot night for me.”
“No, not the triple-shot part. Did you say ‘extra blood’?”
“Oh, yeah. Why? Are you out today?”
The barista’s signature smile turns into a cordial cringe.
“Like, blood blood?”
“Sometimes the Starbucks down the street runs out in the evenings too. If you’re out it’s no big deal, I just thought I’d ask. Gives the coffee an extra oomph.”
The barista’s eyes narrow. She tilts her head, confusion on her face.
“So you’re not joking?”
The vampire stares blankly at her. Blinks. “Why would I be joking?”
“Are you a vampire or something?”
“I prefer hemoglobitarian or plasmaphile or even vegan-plus.”
“That label’s fairly new in the hemoglobitarian community.”
“Isn’t drinking blood, like, the opposite of vegan though?”
“Well, yeah, I know it doesn’t really make sense, but I didn’t come up with it.”
“If it doesn’t make sense, then why would you use that label?”
The vampire takes a deep breath. He rubs his temples. “Look, I’m just trying to order a coffee. Why does my dietary identity even matter?”
“You’re asking for blood in your mocha.”
“Yeah, and? Are you out of it or not?”
“We don’t serve blood.”
“Do you know the closest location that does?”
“Starbucks doesn’t put blood in their coffee,” the barista sneers. “That’d be weird.”
The vampire frowns and the tips of his fangs peek innocently out from beneath his pale upper lip. “Are you sure about that? I’ve had it before at other locations. Maybe you’ve just never had anyone ask for it before. It’s a secret menu thing.”
“We don’t have a secret menu.”
“Starbucks definitely has a secret menu. Everyone knows about the secret menu.”
The barista huffs. She shakes her head, annoyed, and glances at the small crowd of people lining up behind the vampire. “Sir, you’re holding up the line. Do you want coffee or not?”
“So you do have blood?”
“No, we do not have blood. Do you want the coffee without blood or not?”
“I think you have blood and you just don’t want to serve me because I’m vegan-plus.”
“No, that’s not–”
The vampire throws his arms up in frustration. “I face this kind of discrimination all the time. The second you tell someone you drink blood, they start freaking out on you. ‘Ew, blood? That’s so gross!’ ‘Whoa there, you’re not gonna drink my blood now, are you?’ ‘So do you, like, drink other vampires’ blood, or just normal-people blood?’ It’s all so demeaning. Makes me feel less-than. I didn’t ask to be bitten. I was born this way. Plasmaphiles are people too, you know.”
“Oh my God,” the barista mutters, annoyed.
One of the coffee aficionados in line clears her throat. “Um, he’s right, you know. Plasmaphiles are people too. Plasmaphile rights are human rights.”
The vampire raises his eyebrows at the barista. “See?”
“I’m going to go get my manager.”
“Please do. And what’s your name? Your nametag is just a bunch of scribbles.”
“It’s Erin. Why?”
“I’m very active on Yelp and I want to make sure I include you in my next review.”
The barista rolls her eyes as she turns and leaves the counter. The vampire pulls his phone from his cape and lets his thumbs go wild.
“One Star: So I went into this Starbucks location asking for a simple order with extra blood,” he types, pointy black fingernails clicking against the screen, “and the barista—Erin—rudely REFUSED to serve me. She insisted that there was no blood and kept asking really personal questions about my dietary needs. Super creepy. Would not recommend going to this location AT ALL.”
The barista returns. “Here’s the manager,” she says, gesturing to the man beside her.
“Hi there, sir,” he says. “Is there an issue I can help resolve?”
“Yes. Erin says Starbucks doesn’t serve blood. Is that true?”
“Of course not! We always keep some extra bags in the back.”
The barista furrows her perfectly-plucked brow. “Wait, what?”
“See, Erin. Blood. In the back.”
“We serve blood?” she asks the manager.
He nods. “Yep. It’s a common add-in on our secret menu. I’ll show you where it is. Meet me in the back and I’ll finish up here?”
The barista hurries toward the storage room, utter disgust all over her face.
“So sorry about that, sir,” the manager says, making lots of eye contact. “Erin’s only been here two weeks and is still training. I’ll brew that right up for you, free of charge for the inconvenience.”
The manager zips off to make the coffee while the vampire pulls out his phone once more.
“EDIT: the manager got involved and showed the newbie where the blood is stored. I got my drink for FREE and everything was resolved nicely. Hopefully Erin has learned her lesson and won’t be DISCRIMINATING against those with unique tastebuds in the future. Still one star, though. Their music is too upbeat to get anyone in a coffeehouse mood. Needs more light guitar.”
The manager returns, cup of coffee in hand. “Here’s your drink, sir. Sorry again for any misunderstanding.”
“Thank you. And actually I think I will take a cake pop. Do any of those come with blood?”
Lawrence Silveira is a writer originally from a California town called “Lard”. Some of his other work has been featured in The Lab Review, Habitat Magazine, and Hair Trigger 40. He also serves as the Acquisitions Editor for Mental Papercuts, an online flash fiction and nonfiction magazine. When he’s not writing about caffeine-consuming vampires, you can find him stuck in L.A. traffic, talking about goats, or writing other absurd stories.