It was an enormous coffee pot. Of all the coffee pots he had ever seen, it was of truly gargantuan proportions. It was a whopper and no mistake.
‘Coffee?’ said the Caffeine Shaman.
‘Erm...’ said Johnny, while the Caffeine Shaman held a bucket-sized mug beneath the tap at the base of the pot and filled it to the brim. He downed the bucket-sized mug of coffee in about three seconds. He then retrieved another bucket-sized mug from a shelf of bucket-sized mugs and started to repeat the process.
‘Tea?’ said Johnny.
‘Tea?!’ said the Caffeine Shaman. He looked like he had just been asked if he liked to have sex with aardvarks. ‘Tea is for weaklings, women and wandering wastrels!’ He guzzled his second gallon of the black stuff. ‘Red Bull?’
Before Johnny could even consider refusing, the Caffeine Shaman, in a move reminiscent of a gunslinging ninja, whipped out two thin red cans from the voluminous folds of his voluminous black cloak.
Johnny started to say ‘erm,’ but before he got halfway through the ‘r,’ he felt a whoosh as a can of Red Bull was thrust towards him. He then heard a crack, which at first he presumed to be the sound of his breaking nose (about half a millimetre in front of which the can came to rest), but which turned out to be the sound of a mini sonic boom caused by the thrusting can.
Johnny had previously drunk Red Bull only once. With vodka. At which he had experienced a powerful hallucination involving gerbils, giant vegetables and a hellish version of Sainsbury’s. He had vowed never to touch the stuff again.
‘Maybe just a little,’ he said, as he took the can, opened it and tentatively sipped at its loathsome contents.
‘Good boy,’ said the Caffeine Shaman, as he poured another gallon of steaming fluid down his gullet. ‘Now tell me what brings you here.’
‘My friend recommended you,’ said Johnny.
‘I thought you were called Johnny.’
‘So is my friend.’
‘Fuck,’ said the Caffeine Shaman, with a rolling of the eyes and a slurping of the Java. ‘Go on...’
‘My friend, Johnny,’ Johnny continued, ‘had just split up with his girlfriend, been sacked from his job and been mugged for £3.50 and a packet of fags.’
‘Rings a bell,’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘Only I believe he called himself Jimmy.’
‘Either way,’ continued Johnny, ‘he recommended you. Said you sorted out his head. And said he got a free cuppa and a muffin out of it.’
‘Muffin?’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘I think he’s mistaking me for Starbucks. Whatever... take this’ - he handed Johnny a carrot.
‘It’s a carrot,’ said Johnny.
‘Not just any carrot,’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘The Carrot of Truth.’
‘But what am I supposed--’
‘Shut up and listen. Now close your eyes and hold the carrot in front of you, like this’ - the Caffeine Shaman indicated how Johnny should hold the Carrot. ‘Probably best if you put down the can of Red Bull first.’
Johnny put down the can of Red Bull. He then closed his eyes and held out the Carrot of Truth in the manner in which the Caffeine Shaman had demonstrated.
‘Now imagine you are a Jedi Knight - Luke Skywalker, or one of those ponces from Episodes 1-3, if you like. The Carrot is your lightsaber. Before you stands your master - be it a tall bearded man or a very small green chap with big ears. Your master looks at you with intense Jedi Master eyes and says, “Feel the Force.” You look back at him and say, “I feel it, O Master.” And he says, “It is strong with you, Young One.” And you say, “I feel it coursing through my veins.” And he says--’
Johnny opened his eyes. ‘I’m sorry, all this Star Wars stuff is lost on me. I’m more of a Trekkie myself.’
‘Oh for God’s sake,’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘Give me the Carrot.’
‘Give me the fucking Carrot!’
Johnny did so.
‘How do you expect to be healed when you can’t appreciate the symbolism of The Greatest Story Ever Told?’
‘I hardly think that Star Wars--’
‘...has the power to heal the dark corners of the mind? Do you question the truth of this? Are you insane?’
‘Not in the slightest,’ said Johnny. ‘In fact, now that you mention it, my mind isn’t the reason I came here.’
‘What in the name of Dowe Egberts are you on about? Why else would yo come to the Mysterious Abode of the Caffeine Shaman?’
‘Johnny said you were also a dab hand with a TV aerial.’
‘I’ve not had a good reception for months. Can you help?’
‘With your TV reception...’
‘Hmm...’ said the Caffeine Shaman.
‘???’ said Johnny.
‘Take back the Carrot,’ said the Caffeine Shaman.
‘The Carrot of Truth?’ said Johnny.
‘Yes,’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘The Carrot,’ he continued, ‘of Truth.’
Johnny took back the Carrot of Truth.
‘Now hold it like this,’ said the Caffeine Shaman.
Johnny did so.
‘And shove it,’ said the Caffeine Shaman, ‘where the sun don’t shine!’
‘I only asked,’ said Johnny. ‘Jeez, you’re highly strung.’
‘Highly strung?!’ said the Caffeine Shaman. ‘I haven’t slept for three weeks, what do you expect?!’
‘Well maybe if you laid off the coff--’
Johnny did so. But not before munching on the Carrot of Truth, in a Bugs Bunny kind of way.
‘Caffeine Shaman, my arse,’ he said. ‘Ahh well, I was thinking of watching less TV.’
He tossed the half-eaten Carrot of Truth into a bin as he headed for the nearest Starbucks. He considered the varieties of overpriced froth therein.
‘Then again,’ he said, ‘perhaps I’ll have a smoothie.’
And so he did.
[ the end ]