A piece written in 2006 for the unpublished book, Mutant Pets, Alien School Boards, and Yard Sales: Weekly World News Book of Suburban Legends:

© Paul Kupperberg

JITTERS, Wash. – Just when the residents of Jitters thought that the streets of their once bucolic little community had become saturated with fast food, retail, and specialty store franchise outlets, along came the Queequeg Coffeehouse chain.

“Understand, the whole town’s about three miles square,” said Mayor Bert Folger, sitting at his desk, shaking his foot while sipping an extra-foam half-caffe latte with soy milk and one artificial sweetener. “We were happy when the first Queequeg went in on the north side … the coffee’s real good, even if it is a bit pricey.

“Then they opened a second on the south side of town, then one on the east side, the west side, and then they started popping up on every street in town. Seems whenever an old business shut its doors, when next that location reopened, it would be as a Queequeg.

“Pretty soon, we had twenty-three Queequegs in town with a population of about 3,000. You can’t buy a slice of pizza or find a decent shoe store anymore, but you sure can get yourself a coffee.”

Walt Bundle, president of the Jitters Chamber of Commerce, a nervous man with a tick in his right eye and a penchant for triple-shot espressos, extra sugar, is quick to take exception to the mayor’s point of view.

“So what?” he said. “I mean, boohoo, okay? You want pizza, drive to Tessie’s Pie over in Maxwellville. It’s only sixty miles, you can drive it in no time! Okay. Okay?

“Queequegs has been good for Jitters. They do land office business, pay a bundle in taxes, sponsor a ton of community service work, and ever since they’ve expanded around these parts, we’ve become a twenty-four hour a day town, tripling manufacturing capability and doubling productivity.

“Heck, as far as I’m concerned, if they can find someplace else to set up espresso machines, I’m happy to have as many more Queequegs as they want to open!”

Elton Sanka, founder and CEO of Queequegs is happy to comply with Mr. Bundle’s wishes.

“Mr. Bundle isn’t the only one to feel that way. And since Queequegs is all about giving the customer what it wants, we’ve just approved the final design on our latest franchising concept … the Bathroom Barista!”

Only three feet square, this pre-fabricated coffee-bar-on-wheels can be quickly set up in the corner of a Queequegs’s restroom, plugged into an outlet and connected to the sink for a water supply.

“Within moments, the Bathroom Barista can be serving up piping hot coffee and steamed milk beverages to customers who may need a little extra boost between stops at one of our full-service Queequegs,” Sanka said

“It’s like the sign on the interstate into town says: ‘Welcome to Jitters, the City That Never Sleeps!’” shouted Mayor Folger, before sagging back into his seat and muttering, “Oh, god, I’m so tired. If I could just get some sleep.…”

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