I am in the writing groove, keying out several pages of the new WIP, knowing where the plot is going and what happens next. The TV is on but the volume low, serving as a white noise in the background. The other house inhabitant, Bill, is off to grocery shop.
Waking relatively early, I smelled bacon, fried onions, and potatoes emanating from the kitchen, and felt famished. Slipping into shorts and a tee, I took the outside staircase to Trixie’s kitchen.
“Smells great,” I said, looking at the stove where Abhita, one of the morning shift’s help, worked.
“I’ll fix you up a plate,” she promised. I poured myself a huge glass of grapefruit juice and went to the front to take a seat at the otherwise empty bar. Trixie’s was busy this morning. Nancy and Elena bustled from table to table, taking orders, delivering food, checking on customer needs, and busing dishes.
A seemingly ungodly loud noise pierces my concentration. Grabbing the phone I assume a pleasant voice and say, “Hello?”
“Hello!” Bill’s cherry melodious, greeting grates on my nerves, and a brief image of me as curmudgeon drifts through my mind. “What’s up?” I ask.
“Did you say you needed flour? There’s a great sale on it.” Good question. I make all our bread.
“All-purpose or bread?”
“Get ten pounds each.”
“You don’t want more? We could store it.”
“Weather is too warm. No, ten is fine.”
Usual adieus. Hang up. Where was I? I reread what I’ve written. Phone rings again.
No greeting. “I forgot to tell you earlier, you need to make bread.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll get to it a little later.” Adieus. Hang up. Reread section, fall back into my alternative world and start writing.
Passing me, Nancy said, “We been discovered.”
“Again?” I quipped. Trixie’s has gone in and out of fashion for decades. Murder and notoriety as a come-on somehow felt wrong, but both Eva and I would accept the resulting business. Abhita shouted from the kitchen, and seeing my plate on the pass-thru, I rose and retrieved it. Taking my first bite I saw Rhonda and the Elitist enter from the side door. Heat filled my face as I remembered the shouting from their apartment last night and returned my attention to my hash browns.
A familiar squelchy rubbing sound interrupts me. I look over at the upstairs porch door. My thirty-pound orange kitty dubbed Winston Churchill (he’s a dead ringer) runs his paws down the glass door as if trying to dig his way in. He sees me and I swear he smiles. As I rise from my chair, he sits down and waits for me to open the door. Win comes in; two others run outside. “And stay out,” I command to the tails already disappearing down the stairs. Before I sit down I fill my cup with the remains of coffee left in the percolator.
Back on my chair, I read the last paragraph. Was this the Elitist’s night with Rhonda? She is serially monogamous, one guy given a specific night of the week, exclusively his. Do I have the right one? Doubting myself, I double check my book’s fact book, which is bigger than the WIP. Yes. Okay, let’s go.
They slid onto the two bar stools to my right.
“Smells heavenly,” Rhonda said.
“Another treasure in visiting you, my dear, is the high quality of the food served so close by,” the Elitist said.
Rhonda and I both laughed at his compliment. I rose and found them menus. “I’m having the Friday morning special. What do you want to drink?”
“I’d appreciate coffee,” the Elitist said. I poured him a cup and plopped the sugar and cream next to where I put his cup. “I’ll have a large orange juice and a coffee,” Rhonda requested. “Early for you to be working, isn’t it?”
The phone rings again. I make an agitated noise, and may have even made an evil utterance, but my voice is resigned when I pick up the instrument of torture. “Hello.”
“Hi, Mom. Did you hear what xxx (name deleted as protection from libel accusations) that @%$x&! said?”
My discontent disappears. “You mean about…”
My son and I have ongoing and frequent political, cultural, situation rant fests. He must be driving. He has to drive a lot for his job, and while I don’t generally approve cars, phones, and long conversations, he always gets leeway. Before he hangs up ten minutes have passed.
I look at my computer screen, sigh, and reread the page again.
“Helping out is expected from the owner even when having breakfast.”
“Sit down and eat before it turns cold,” Nancy said, coming up behind me. I gratefully relinquished my waitress duties as Nancy took over. She served Rhonda and the Elitist before pushing another large grapefruit juice in front of my plate. I quaffed several swallows down, enjoying the tang of the tart-sweet liquid.
“Didn’t you have dinner last night?” Nancy asked.
“No, I forgot.” I mashed my eggs into the hash browns and stuffed a forkful into my mouth, savoring the mixture of egg yolk, butter, onions, and potatoes. Within minutes I’d polished off the potatoes and picked up the crispy bacon. It crumbled on my tongue. Some inner sense made me notice…
I hear gravel crunching. Living in the country or BFE as my daughter refers to it, the driveway always alerts me when someone is approaching. I run downstairs, look out, and see the Fed Ex man coming up the walkway. We share thirty seconds of chit-chat and he is gone. The address on the envelop excites me. I go into the kitchen, careful open the package and unwrap the bottle of Madagascar vanilla and put it away. Hell, while I’m in the room I might as well start the bread, so I pull out the sourdough starter. Soon I’m back upstairs in my chair. Taking a relaxing breath I look at the page I’ve accomplished so far. I get to the last unfinished sentence. What did Kate notice? What was I thinking…? I sit, my mind stewing for a minute before the idea returns. Oh, yeah. I start keying.
…the Elitist watched me with an avid expression of interest while Rhonda hid her grin and sipped her coffee.
I was about to lick my lips. Remembering the Elitist’s stare and what I heard last night, I used a napkin to wipe my mouth.
Phone rings again. Greetings shared. “Robin, I have a question about what we decided at the last meeting, do you have a minute?”
“Sure.” An hour later I’m back to my story.
“Looks good,” Rhonda said, as Nancy delivered her breakfast.
Nancy handed me the kitchen phone at the same time with a brief, “For you.”
And so it goes. Without a life, I would be unable to write because my experiences offer so much insight, and I love all those who interrupt me. If there ever was a choice between one of them and a book, the answer is simple: them. Yet somehow when I go to work in my alternative world, I often wish I could somehow, just temporarily mind you, erase myself TOTALLY from reality.