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Writing Fiction - Chapter 23
Here's where Chapter 22 left you.
Heavens. It seemed like there were as many responses to that question as when I googled “What to do about depression”.
Apparently all I needed to do was write what people wanted to read, ask questions on my blog, talk about interesting things, join memes (whatever that is), visit other peoples blogs, join blog hops, be witty, be consistent, don’t have too big of pictures, don’t use too small of font, etc., etc. etc.
I didn’t really know that blogging was going to be this complicated.
I definitely needed caffeine. And what better place to get it than the cute little coffee shop on Main Street? Surely Walden wouldn’t be working today. I could just sneak in there, get some coffee, and then come home and sort through all the blah, blah, blogger’s do and don’t’s.
And now Chapter 23 continues...
I know what you're thinking. But it's not true. I am NOT wanting to go back to the coffee shop to see if Mr. Grumpy is there. I just feel the need for a fancy coffee drink.
I run upstairs to fix my make up and comb my hair. My mother, God rest her soul, had raised me to take care of my appearance and never leave the house with uncombed hair. Actually my Mother had also raised me to never leave the house wearing old underwear, too. I never actually understood the underwear thing. She would always tell us, "Do you want to be wearing old underwear if you're in an accident?" I never understood her reasoning for that. Would the paramedics not help me if I was wearing torn, stained underwear? Would they so busy snickering and pointing that I would die trapped inside my mangled car before they could get around to using the jaws of life to rescue me?
Since I had been married for about a 100 years to same man, my underwear had pretty much degenerated to plain white granny panties. But since they were almost brand new, I figured it would be safe for me to drive to the coffee shop. I promised myself, though, that someday I was going to live on the edge and wear the old, ripped pair I had stashed in the bottom of the drawer for some reason. It wasn’t going to be today, though.
Today I was going to avoid Millie, see Walden and get coffee!
Avoiding Millie had been successful since I snuck around the side of my house and made a quick sprint, quick for me anyway, to my car. The rest of my plan went awry, though, because when I went inside accompanied by the jingling of the bell on the door, Walden wasn't working. Instead, there was a young, scruffy looking guy behind the counter. His muscular arms were covered in tattoos. I hesitated for a few moments, slightly afraid to approach the counter. After a second, though, he looked up and smiled at me with a happy, white smile that automatically made me smile back at him. He seemed really nice, too, so I put my fears aside and approached the counter.
"Hi," I said, "I thought Walden might be working today."
"Nah, Walden has class this morning. Can I help you?"
I couldn't quite recall what amazing coffee drink Walden had made for me and I must have had an incredibly blank look on my face. "So what do you like? No, wait, let me guess..." He put his palm dramatically to his forehead and thought for a moment, "OK, I've got it. How about a white chocolate caramel latte?"
Wow, that sounded great. "I'll take it!' I said and he made the machines hiss and make all kinds of funny noises and then he handed me the same kind of over-sized white mug filled with magic that Walden had given me. This drink was just as amazing as the peppermint thing I had tried the day before. I started seriously thinking about going on a coffee diet. These drinks were absolutely astonishing.
I sat in the warm sunshine at one of the wooden tables again. The coffee shop seemed pretty empty and after a few minutes the tattooed coffee guy came over, pulled out a chair, and sat at my table. "So how do you like it?" he asked, and I told him it was wonderful. I asked him how long he had worked at the coffee shop and he just started talking away. "Yeah, I've been here about a year now, and yeah, I really, really like it. I can go to school and work on my class stuff when we're slow, so it works out really great, ya know?”
“I’ll be honest…ummm….ummm…” I looked in vain at his muscular chest for a nametag.
He glanced down and then his face lit up with that blinding white smile. “Oops, forgot my name tag…again! Yeah, I’m Griffin.” Just as I was wondering if there were any people named Bob and Susan left in the world, he held out his non-tattooed hand to shake mine. "I'm Pearl," I told him.
I asked him what he was going to school for and he told me something called Social Media Marketing. Since I was unsure exactly what that was, he went on to explain, "it's a lot of stuff like commercialization of virtual space, global brand management, blah, blah, blah.” I had no earthly idea what he was talking about, but somewhere in the midst of the white noise, I heard the word blogging and my ears perked up.
"So…ummm… Griffin, I have a blog," I told him.
He looked surprised. "Wow, that is so cool," he said. "Let me get my laptop and we'll take a look at it!"
When my first little post popped up onto the screen I quickly saw there were no new comments.
Embarrassed, I explained, "Well, I just started my blog yesterday, but I wanted to do it so my daughter could keep track of what I'm doing."
"What are you doing?” he asked. "What are you planning on writing about?"
"I'm not totally sure yet. I was going to write about this dog I found, but then the nasty owner took the dog back and then I was going to..." I just started babbling. Griffin's eyes started glazing over a bit so I wrapped it up quickly by concluding, "OK, I guess I don't really know what my blog is going to be about."
Griffin sat for a moment and then mused, “Just listening to you talk it sounds like you are really just going to have a 'stream of consciousness' kind of blog.” He went on to explain that was kind of like an on-line diary of day to day happenings.
"What if there aren’t very many day to day happenings in my life?" I asked him. For a guy covered in tattoos he was really, really nice and easy to talk to.
"Just keep it real, Pearl. Write about your hobbies and your interests. Don’t like…ummm… ladies your age put all kinds of pictures on that fancy looking paper and make those blankets out of little pieces of material and stuff like that? My Mom is always doing stuff like that.”
“Griffin,” I told him in a haughty tone of voice, “All ladies my age don’t necessarily spend all day scrapbooking and quilting. In fact, some of us…”
Just then the little bell over the door jingled and Griffin hopped up from the table to help the customer.
I looked up and almost jumped out of my chair! Yes, you guessed it. The customer was HIM!!! HIM!!! The dog thief!
Our eyes met…and not in a good way.
It was like a shoot out at the OK Corral. His hand froze on the door. My hand froze on my coffee mug. My eyes narrowed. His eyes narrowed. His nostrils flared and then, before I could say a word, he turned around and stomped out of the door. The jingling bell chimed incongruously in his wake.
I watched his back disappear down the sidewalk.
I looked at Griffin.
“Wow, that was really weird,” he said.
I looked at Griffin some more. I think my brain was frozen from shock or something.
Finally I managed to stammer out, “What was weird?”
“That. Maybe he had to run back to his car to get his wallet or something,” came his unhelpful reply, and then he set to polishing the fancy machines with a coffee stained white rag.
I calmed myself down and then in a casual, nonchalant voice, I inquired, “Do you know him?”
“Jay? Yeah, I know him. He’s been coming in here since right after I started work here. Man, that guy has really had his share of troubles!”
Jay? Moron Guy was named Jay? Shouldn’t he have been named something like Hatchet? Or Machete? I puzzled over this as Griffin infuriatingly stopped talking and continued polishing the coffee machines and wiping down the counters.
I waited a few long moments.
“Yeah, weird,” he finally continued, “Looks like he’s not coming back today. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him miss a day. Really weird.”
It was working very difficult to refrain from interrogating Griffin, but finally I blurted out, “What do you mean his share of troubles?”
My tattooed friend looked a little uncomfortable. “I probably shouldn’t say, him being a regular and all.” His face looked sad for a moment.
I just sat quietly.
One thing I learned when my kids were younger was, if something was bothering them, my silence would usually make them start talking. So I just sat quietly sipping my coffee.
It was hard to be patient. I felt like a bottle of pancake syrup in the microwave. You know how the bottle kind of explodes if the lid isn’t left open? My silence was making me dangerously close to imitating that particular mess.
Finally, after what felt like an hour had elapsed, Griffin cleared his throat.
“I just feel bad for the guy, you know? And I mean all the stuff about him was in the papers, right?”
Although my heart started beating faster, I simply murmured a little sound into my coffee cup and finally Griffin continued.
To be continued, Tuesday, February 15.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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