book of days serial #6

Drive. He then forded Broadway in the striated crosswalk and went over to 18th Street Café. It was one of those clear, white summer mornings in Los Angeles that is left over from the early spring just as the high fog sets in. The rains were over. The hills were still green and in the valley across the Hollywood Hills you can still see snow on the high mountains. In Beverly Hills the jacaranda trees were just beginning to bloom. But in real time, it was white, the high fog was still, the lawns were brown and summer was petering into decay. The French doors of the café were open in the alcoves, Patsy Cline hummed softly yet clear through the leaves of plants by the entrance, a sparrow stood on a tile table near the door, and she was behind the counter. The usual: he ordered a bagel to be toasted and a cup of coffee to be dispensed. While he smeared marmalade on the bagel she smiled over at him from the counter. Her thin upper lip disappeared into her olive skin and her hair bobbed. The seconds of interaction ordering coffee from her promised made being exiled from home immediately after dawn almost a blessing.

She said, “You read a lot. Did you ever try writing a book?”

That did it. From that moment on he was a writer. “I’m writing a book now,” he commented.

She wanted to know what kind of book.

“My prose is not for sale. I write for the people.”

She said, “I didn’t know that. What do you write? Stories? Or plain fiction?”

Finding an ambiguous difference between these types, as he was convinced that the definition of ‘fiction’ had something to do with the definition of ‘story’, he replied, “Both. I am ambidextrous.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

As if sensing her disbelief, he went to his bag that was sitting at a tile table in the alcove and brought out a pencil and notebook. She wanted to know what he was writing now and cautiously bused the tables nearby. He said, “Nothing. Merely taking random notes for a future work on the bourgeoisie coffeehouse culture of the Westside. The subject interests me curiously, a sort of dynamic hobby I have picked up.”

That did him in. He spent the next two cups of coffee struggling through a description of the cast iron ceiling that was adequate at best.

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