Mike thought the night was done. But was it? He sipped the Cabernet’s remainder. Kelly may have called earlier, from a restricted number, but he wasn’t sure. His phone, ringing, jittering again. Number, restricted. Mike lifted the phone off the new home winemaker book his sister just bought him, pushed Answer. “Hello?”
“Hey Mike, it’s Lonny, how’ve you been?” Lonny, Mike’s old friend from the winery, said. “Been a while. Where are you working now?”
“Oh, hey, Lonny. How’ve you been? You still at the winery?”
“Still pouring, still pouring. You need to come by. We just released this Cab I think you’d like. You like Cab still, right? We’re doing a vertical tasting you should come to, next week.”
[12/29/11, Th] Wrote 12:36p on the dry board. Took me a while to sit, as the café was completely packed when I landed. One lady, at this very table, the one most distanced to the back, my 2nd favorite table, left just as I ordered mocha2. This coffee house, the office. Not even opposites. More like unknown dimensions that don’t know each other. One flavored. The other, ovular. The lady who left, just returned. Would be a year’s worth of jokes if she demanded I return this space. She may have been writing, as I did see her with a laptop. Another lady, probably three years beyond me, sitting directly at 12, types on a laptop, one of the ridiculously small ones. I don’t mean to look at her screen, as I hate even the far vision of someone doing so to me, but it looks as thought she may be writing fiction, or in a typed journal.
Thought I was going to have to return to the office to write. I even asked the manager, who I used to think was the owner, or one of them, if he had any tables in the back. I could tell he felt bad in having nothing to provide an always-visiting writer, then disclosing he had drawn up a new floor plan which included booths, more accommodating seating, that it probably wouldn’t go through. This place, the only writing spot for my hour’d respite.
Mike couldn’t waste even one more button push on empty reflection. He listened to the manager fly up the aged stairs, thought of a written portrait about his caffeine temple, his Literary Lunch tavern. He sipped from his open-top mocha, with perfect whip motion, began his brush bustles. “Spaced wooden spaces, object accompanied by renewing scents, rich skips...” He just typed, like he didn’t see the screen. He only saw the walls, their paintings, the sipping, conversing guests, the possible writer in front of him.
He wanted to attend that reading he was invited to, here, next year, whenever it was finally held. He didn’t know about going to that vertical tasting Lonny invited him to, however. Those always took hours to get through, especially if you factored in all the conversations, food samplings and possible pairings, “networking.” Mike never understood that about the wine world, all the “networking” opportunities, and why he always tried to participate. Would wine industry networking, which was really just drinking, tasting and talking, help him finish a novel at all timely?
He thought of going for a walk, a brief trot about the chilled downtown Napa blocks. No, the portrait needed finishing. Well, it needed a start. Looking at his mocha, he knew wine would always have a presence in his day, his writing, but the presence perhaps needed perforating. He needed more characters. More of Kelly, more Jewel, his friends from the old winery, his coworkers at NewWineGig. More dialogue. He wrote all the conversations he could catch, muting his music, but appearing as though he were still connected with tunes from his laptop.
The people, 2, one older man, woman of same age, maybe a year or two his minor. Talking about fish, cooking it different ways. “The lemon’s always too punchy for me, that way,” she says.
“How long do you leave it for?” he asked.
“Different every time,” she said before a clearing of throat. “Sorry. It’s hard. I tried it with a kind of tuna, a couple weeks ago, but it didn’t turn out so good.” She rose, the man with her. They left, silent. Mike wondered why so abrupt? Didn’t they know he was recording? How inconsiderate.
The writer in front of him. Writing a memoir, more than likely. Her life’s worth research on sculpting, logging her creative process. The challenges she confronts, what she encounters; her failures, self-surprises, everything. Mike saw her there, in her black, slightly puffy jacket, black framed librarian glasses, typing madly. It was fiction, it had to be. Mike returned to his portrait. Spent three paragraphs on the blood-red wood seats, alone. Then, his beloved bean bar, with its sounds, accoutrements, machines with struggling navigators, the view of 1st and Main. This was Mike’s house, he craftily cemented. He needed others in it. His characters. Maybe he was a character in this caffeinated chest of characters. He looked to see her typing, again. Not as fast as him. Good, he thought. His short story collection would be done before hers. OR his novel. He still hadn’t decided.
1:13p. Another sip. He looked through his cubeNOTES. Just reiterations of his aims. What did that do, he wondered. “Instead of stating, why not just execute?” 1014 words. He couldn’t be happier. No way she reached such a word count in her sitting. Well, maybe she did, as she’s positioned in that chair as though it’s her day off, not in any shape of rush. Well, if she did hit 1000+, certainly no way she hit it with his fiery forward, his rate, his “Literary Leaps,” he wrote. This was where he came to leap Literarily, the only chairs that welcomed him. No condescension, obsession with order. These walls, the characters welcomed Autonomous pen movings. So there he was, looking up, then recording, penning portrait.
His phone displayed a text. From Lonny. “so can u come 2 that cab tasting??!!” Mike didn’t respond. He might not ever answer. He might kill his phone. What did that thing do for the page? Such a distraction. Why did he upgrade a couple months ago, anyway? Distractions in its banks, with social media, the applications, games, colors, what be. “Safe, here,” he wrote. “There’s no time, no speed, just you, your Your, it’s yours; your time, your coffee, your view.” He’d stop, for now, maybe finish at home tonight. Mike thought about the tasting. There’d be characters, there. Right? Maybe he should just go, pretend to “network.” Sip some wine, hang out with Lonny, eat free bites. Why not? He took his phone from the black bag’s deepest pocket. He always put it there, to forget about it; altogether out of sight, even more so of mind. “Yes. I’m there. Put me on list, please” he texted back, noticing the forgotten period at the end of his sentence. Was he really that writing-obsessed? Yes. He lowered the laptop’s screen, sipped.
5 more minutes. What can I write in such squished seconds? Actually, I only have two, as I’d prefer get back a second or 2 early. Last sips of mocha, last leaps of Literature, efforts. Vacation, soon, I hope. Need one. We all do. Wine, hotel Room, random travel writings; dishes, napkins, dinner, characters everywhere... Selfish, I know.