Luigi expects the quaint little coffee shop to be abandoned when he arrives.
He doesn’t expect it to be…busy .
A line is snaking out from the front entrance, customers of all species growing increasingly irritated by the long wait. It could be his imagination, but in the time it’s taken for the plumber to gather his supplies, it seems as if the line hasn’t moved at all. He finds the situation rather peculiar. It was the lunch rush, so the crowd wasn’t that unusual, but he’d been called here about a Boo problem. Surely if a spirit was causing trouble, the occupants would have fled, right? Maybe Luigi had the wrong address. Maybe there was more to the situation than he had initially been led to believe.
Whatever the case, he’d find out.
Luigi shoulders his Poltergust. Before he starts toward the building, he inspects the device’s Boo radar to get an idea of what lay in store. A single, weak blip chirps back at him.
So there was indeed a Boo on location. That at least confirms he’s at the right place. Still, he can’t help but feel something’s off.
With a flip of a switch, the Poltergust shimmers and warps until it looks like an ordinary back pack—a camouflage feature the professor had installed in a recent upgrade. It proved useful for times where he needed to catch his targets off guard, but Luigi found it was more valuable during situations like these. Walking into the unknown with a ghost hunting device on full display could make a spirit become hostile, escalating an encounter that might have otherwise been benign.
The plumber casually walks past the growing line of customers. He receives a few curious looks—some of recognition, others of suspicion (perhaps thinking the man was attempting to cut ahead)—but otherwise no one makes a move to halt his progress. Luigi slips through the propped open door and moves off to the side to gauge his surroundings.
As anticipated, the shop is just as crowded on the inside. Every table and bar stool is occupied, and the long line has been split between two registers. At one a haggard looking Koopa frantically darts between several machines and stations, nearly tripping over themselves to complete orders. At the other…
Oh. That explains…a lot actually.
At the second register, a particularly small Boo hovers just beyond the counter, face flushed crimson and buried in their stubby little paws. Even from here, Luigi can see the spirit trembling under the intense scrutiny of the agitated masses.
The plumber feels his heart pang with sympathy. Luigi was nervous in crowds at the best of times; he could only imagine what this Boo was going through. Who in stars name thought it would be a good idea to make the naturally shy spirit work the lunch rush?
Luigi shakes his head, making his way over to the inert specter. It didn’t matter. He didn’t have control over employee shifts, but he did know how to handle bashful Boos.
“Look, pal. My order is very simple. All I want is a black coffee. How hard is that for you to understand?!”
An orange Pianta is leaning over the counter, bearing down on the quivering spirit. The Boo offers no reply—no indication that they even heard the man. Their unresponsive behavior only further infuriates the customer. Before he can voice his growing ire, Luigi gains his attention with a tap on the shoulder.
“What do you want—?!” the Pianta does a double take, staring back at the plumber with surprise, “Luigi?”
“That’s me,” he replies, shrugging off the outburst. “I’m here to offer my help.”
The Pianta gives the plumber a perplexed look.
Luigi flicks his wrist, a green business card seemingly snapping into existence. He hands it to the stunned customer.
“This stuff is kinda my thing. I’ll take care of it. You wanted a black coffee, correct?”
The Pianta, still staring at the card, nods mutely. Luigi silently pats himself on the back. He found that small tricks like sleight of hand had an odd way of distracting people.
Luigi gently guides the quiet customer off to the side and takes their place at the front of the line. He turns so he is facing in the opposite direction of the register and leans back against the counter, taking care not to put too much weight on the disguised Poltergust. The Toad waiting next in line spares him an odd look.
“Hey, I’m Luigi. What’s your name?”
The plumber glances over his shoulder, checking to see if the Boo had noticed the change. Sure enough, the little spirit slowly peers up from their paws—perhaps curious of the new voice.
“I…I’m Boorista,” they stutter.
‘Aptly named,’ Luigi thinks with a smirk. He offers the Boo a backwards thumbs-up.
“Nice to meet you Boorista,” he says. “Rough day, huh?”
Luigi hears the spirit heave a weary sigh.
“That’s an understatement. I’ve never had to deal with so many customers before.”
The plumber hums, inclining his head.
“I take it this isn’t you’re normal shift?”
“Yeah, I’ve always worked closing,” they affirm. “But we have five people out sick, so they had to call me in to help cover.” Boorista groans, sounding dejected. “Some help I’ve been.”
“Hey, give yourself a break. Going from closing shift to opening is a big change, especially in a coffee shop. It’s not easy, but I know you’ll get it.”
“Yeah? What makes you so sure?”
Even though he knows the Boo can’t see it, Luigi smiles reassuringly.
“Because I’m going to help you.”
“What? How? ”
The plumber waves a hand absently.
“You’ll see. How about we start with a black coffee?”
Luigi shifts minutely so he can see Boorista in his peripheral. The Boo seems unsure at first, but then they zip off out of sight. The plumber takes notice of the orange Pianta watching him with something akin to awe. He responds with an acknowledging wink and throws in a dorky finger gun for good measure.
“Okay, that’ll be five coins.”
Luigi barely catches himself from turning completely around. His eyes widen when he spies the piping hot cup just within sight.
“Wow! That was fast! ”
The plumber glimpses the Boo puffing up with pride.
“I’m good at my job when I can actually do it,” they preen.
“I should say so.”
Luigi slides the necessary tender back toward the register and carefully retrieves the cup of coffee. He hands it off to the waiting Pianta.
“Here you go!”
The Pianta blinks rapidly at the plumber, surprised.
“…Oh! You didn’t have to pay for that…”
“No, but I wanted to.”
The Pianta accepts the cup with a polite incline of his head.
“It was no trouble.”
Luigi turns to the Toad waiting next in line after the man departs.
“What do you want to get?” he asks.
The yellow Toad gawks, initially taken aback by the question, before their face lights up with a look of understanding.
“Oh! Um…I’ve been really wanting to try the mint flavored hot coco…”
Luigi relays the order in the same manner as before. Boorista procures the beverage just as swiftly, and, once again, the plumber covers the bill. The Toad accepts the drink with a cheerful “thank you” and takes their leave. This process goes on for another eight customers before Luigi needs to excuse himself, the Poltergust beginning to dig unpleasantly into his spine.
“I’ll be right back,” he assures, “I just need to go put my bag back in my van.”
Boorista seems nervous about his brief absence, but nods back with a look of determination.
As the plumber goes, he advises the next customer on the best way to relay their order. This information finds its way to the end of the line by the time Luigi is back outside the building.
Luigi shuts off the Poltergust’s camouflage setting and carefully stores it in the back of his van. He then retrieves a small plastic sign from a storage bin tucked behind the driver’s seat. When he makes his way back to the café, he is amazed to find the line no longer trails outside the door. Entering the establishment reveals that less than a dozen customers remained.
Either he was slow or the Boo was incredibly fast.
Perhaps it was a little of both.
The plumber walks back to Boorista’s register, pleased—if slightly amused—to see that the Koopa placing their order is facing away from the counter. It sets him at ease to know that others can be so accommodating. He stands off to the side, seeing no need to intervene.
In five short minutes, the line finally clears out. A tired but satisfied Boorista takes advantage of the lull to quickly wipe down their station. When Luigi approaches, the Boo tosses the rag aside and offers an eager little wave.
“There you are! I was afraid you’d left before I got the chance to thank you for all your help.”
“No worries, I wasn’t about to leave until I made sure everything worked out okay.”
“It was more than okay!” the Boo exclaims, somersaulting in place. “After you covered so many tabs, people started paying for the folks next in line. I even started getting tips!”
“That’s great! I’ve never seen a line thin out so quickly; you earned those extra coins.”
“Stars yeah I did! My manager says I’m his fastest employee.”
“I don’t doubt it.” Luigi peers past the Boo searchingly. “Where is your manager anyway? I need to give them something.”
Boorista points to a spot on the ground behind the other register. Luigi cranes their neck to see over the counter. The Koopa he had seen earlier is sprawled out in a pile of discarded receipts and crumpled napkins. They appeared to be unconscious.
“I think so,” the Boo shrugs, not looking particularly concerned.
Luigi mirrors the action. Good enough for him, he supposed.
“Well, I’ll just give this to you then. You can talk to your manager about it later when he…recovers.”
Luigi hands off the small plastic sign he had brought in from his van. The Boo accepts it with a curious look.
“Businesses are required to provide accommodations for spirits that work day shifts. Have your boss put this sign at the front entrance. That way if you or any other spirits have to cover during this time again, customers will know how to adapt accordingly.”
Boorista examines the posting with an unreadable expression. They set it aside, giving the plumber a grateful smile.
“I did not know about that. Thank you, Luigi. For everything.”
“No problem. I’m still learning about this sort of thing myself.” With a flick of the wrist, Luigi procures another green business card. “If you have any more problems, you can call this number and I’ll see what I can do to help.”
The Boo takes the card with an impressed hum.
“Thanks. I…probably spend a little too much time practicing it.”