Love is Chaos excerpt

Love is Chaos will be available 2024-2025

Rick Milone pulled into Taftville, a little sub-town of Lisbon, Connecticut, at eleven-thirty. He parked on South Third Avenue in front of the business district. Rick made a point of stopping here when he visited to grab a cup of coffee from the Taftville Beanery. A sign over the door in the shape of a large coffee cup read  
Taftville Beanery, Coffee, Friends and More  

The business district held a general store, a meat market, and a pharmacy, as well. He parked in front of the Beanery, and reached in the back seat to pet Flicka, his black and gray German shepherd. “I’ll be back in a few.” The dog whined, did a three-sixty, and lay back in the seat, putting her head down. 

As Rick entered the shop, a couple stormed out, almost knocking him down. “Whoa,” he said. The guy turned back and scowled, flipping him off.  

Rick looked around and saw a table tossed on its side, a puddle of coffee on the floor and Christine Miller, the woman who caught his eye each time he visited stood at the center of the melee; a regular customer he assumed having seen her each time he stopped in. Rick smiled inwardly at seeing her. Her eyes were tear stained and more streamed down her face. This did nothing to dissuade Rick’s attraction. Her eyes whether tear stained or not drew him in. Hazel with green specs, and her blond hair cut in a pixie made it difficult to look away. Today she wore a tee shirt with The Spring House Block Island emblazoned on the left side. 

Other customers did their best to ignore the ruckus. Some Rick knew the same way he knew Christine, as frequent visitors. Steven Floyd, a news reporter for the Norwich Bulletin and Karl Davis a local realtor. Rick walked up to the counter where a Red Sox game aired on a television, David Ortiz at the plate.  

The owner, Lisa Anderson helped Christine stand the table right side up again. Lisa looked up and smiled at Rick. 

Not knowing what else to say, Rick laughed. “Poor service?” 

“Something like that. You know Christine Miller,” Lisa said, gesturing to the woman standing at the table.  

Rick held his hand out to Christine, saying, “yes indeed. Nice to see you again.” He looked away not wanting to draw attention to his gaze. 

Christine sucked back a sob while Lisa patted her shoulder. “I’ll be right back, and I’ll get you a fresh coffee.” Lisa guided Rick to the counter. 

“What really happened?” Rick wanted to know. 

Brenda, the cashier, smiled at Rick.  

Lisa tapped her cashier’s hand. “Can you watch the register for a moment, Brenda?” Lisa walked to the kitchen behind the counter and Rob; Lisa’s husband came out. Embracing Rick, Rob said, “It’s good to see you, Rick.” He swept his hand through his hair. “Guessing you saw the mess out there. I feel so bad for Christine.” Rob looked down, shaking his head. He looked back up at Rick. “You know Luke cheated on her.” 

“Was that Luke who raced outta here?” Rick wanted to know, scratching at his beard. Then, smiling, he said, “You gonna cut that hair soon?” As long as Rick knew Rob, he grew his hair long. 

“That’s why I own my business,” Rob touched Lisa’s hand. “Well, our business. I don’t have to cut my hair.” 

Lisa gave Rob a smile, then turned to Rick. “So, Luke comes in with the girl he’d been with and sits down at the same table with Christine. Whispers something in her ear and the next thing anyone knows, Christine throws her scalding coffee at the both of them. So, yes, that was Luke who left when you arrived. Too bad it hadn’t happened an hour earlier.” Lisa sighed, glancing at Rob. “Jon Pardo stopped by for a coffee before work.” 

Jon, another regular was a close friend of Rick’s. Jon looked more like Rick. That may have been one thing that drew them together. He wasn’t exactly big, but he wasn’t small either. He had a mop of dirty blonde hair. And he didn’t really fit the mold of a police officer. Jon didn’t carry the air of authority unless you crossed him or the law. That’s why Lisa felt disappointed that he hadn’t shown up as Luke upended the table on his way out of the Beanery. 

“Good for Christine.” Rick pressed his glasses back, then looked out where Christine sat now, and a new admiration rose in him. 

“Next thing I know,” Rob says, sweeping his hair away. “Luke flips the table over, nearly knocking Christine off her chair. That’s when I had enough. I walked out and told them both to leave and not to come back.” He hugged Rick again. “We take care of the people we love. Get out there and help Christine. She could use a friend right now.” 

Rick walked out and Lisa followed. “Visiting your grandparents?” she asked him. 

“I’m visiting for a couple of months before I head out again.” He adjusted his glasses and scratched at his beard. “I have a few jobs in Norwich and New London that I can take if I want, and I figured it would be easier to stay in Lisbon.” 

“Oh, look at you,” Lisa said. “No. Seriously. We’re so happy you’re doing well. Besides, you need a break after Wyoming and Florida. Where you going this time?”  

“Pompeii. It’s been a lifelong dream. Leaving the end of July. And I can do those jobs any time I’m here if I want them.” 

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have a time constraint to worry about. By the way, Lisa noted. “Hope we get some prints from your Pompeii trip to hang.” He’d been exhibiting his photography here for a while, providing a commission for each photo sold. 

Rick was a photographer after his grandfather introduced it to him. “I’ll plan on it.” 


Rick glanced at the room. With all the tables taken, Lisa grabbed his elbow and guided him to Christine’s table. “You two know each other. Sit here, Rick. I’m sure Christine won’t chase you away. I’ll get your iced coffee.” Then turning to Christine, she said, “And I’ll get your refill too. You want any food? It’s on the house today.” 

Rick shrugged. “Don’t go to any trouble.” 

Christine agreed, saying, “I’m fine.” 

Smiling now, Lisa returned to the register. 

Christine peeled back one of her hands. Sighing, she sipped from what coffee she had left. A melancholy smile. “I’m fine,” she said again. More sobbing. 

“I know that’s not true.” Rick reached across the table to take her hand, perhaps a little forward. At this point he didn’t care. Something passed between them, but Rick pushed it away.  

She hid her face again, but not before saying, “I’d like to be alone.”  

When he didn’t move away, she peeked between her fingers. “You’re still here.” 

“Yes, indeed.” 

This brought back that melancholy smile. “Yes indeed,” Christine repeated. Rick used that phrase often, and she always heard it. Almost a clarion call. In fact, she started using the phrase herself.  

His brown hair cut short, and his neatly trimmed salt and pepper beard turned her head each time he visited. Rick wasn’t tall, but he wasn’t short either. Christine guessed five-seven, maybe five-eight. He carried himself taller, though. In pretty good shape, he looked like your average guy. Not one to turn heads, but Christine found it difficult to look away. At thirty years old, Rick made a name for himself as a photographer around the same time. Christine created her reputation as a chef. She had just turned thirty herself in April, a month earlier. Even now, in her distress, Christine felt her heart flutter at Rick’s attention or presence.  

“Listen, Christine, if you really want to be alone, I understand.” He made to stand up. 

When she realized he moved, she reached across the table and grabbed his arm, keeping him rooted to the spot. The shock of that intimacy surprised both of them and it sort of broke the air. A spark passed between them again and they chose to ignore it. 

She pulled away, growing quiet, her face turning beet red. Finally finding her voice, she whispered, “Don’t know where that came from. Sorry.” 

Waving her away, Rick eyed the room, nervously darting from Lisa to the door, to the coffee bar, then finally landing back on Christine. “It’s—” he paused here, attempting to wrap his head around what just occurred. “it’s—it’s fine,” he stammered. But it wasn’t fine.  

The jolt of electricity still stirred. And he continued to ignore it. He felt something different now. Something shifted in their superficial relationship. Maybe Lisa’s right, he thought. Is there something here to pursue? 

Christine glanced at him, and his blue eyes again mesmerized her. Even though she knew Rick in passing, she wasn’t sure she wanted to share her emotional turmoil with what was ostensibly a stranger. Continuing to stare at him, almost measuring him up, she shifted in her chair. 

“What?” It felt like no one else was in the coffeehouse. The business buzzed with activity, however. Four people in line, the ten tables still occupied and more people entering. But his attention only on the young woman sitting opposite him; an odd sense, because he planned on leaving in a couple months for God knew how long and he hardly knew this woman.