“Which one’s free?”
John’d been around the café a decade. Hungarian. Tile Setter. Lived in a van, so he was entitled to his question.
“‘Best Ride’‘s $5. That’s almost free.”
I told him what it was about.
He picked up “The Schiz.” “And this one?”
“A black comedy about lawyers and doctors.”
“I like the cover.”
The Bode Broad.
“That’s nothing.” I showed him Shary Flenniken’s illo.
He gave me a twenty. I gave him change and threw in “Best Ride.”
I was leaving a message on David’s voice mail when Adele called, so I cut my message short to talk to her, and David called back. I finished talking to Adele and called David. I had begun talking to him when the fellow at the next table asked if I had written all these books. I told David I had a customer and would call him back, but by that time the fellow had taken a call from a cousin which went on for 15-minutes.
“What part of New York are you from?” he asked me.
“West Philadelphia,” I said.
“I was in Philly once,” he said.
“Me too,” I said. “For 25-years.
[No, I didn’t, but I’ve just seen “Chinatown” and wanted to give myself a good line.]
Russ was 72, white-haired, plump, patterned grey sweater, bag to catch his urine below. “That’s life,” he said about the bag. He said that too about his older brother dying at 57. He’d been in Berkeley, from Yonkers, since 1970. Real estate. If he hadn’t sold the houses he’d owned in San Francisco, he’d have a penthouse on Central park West. That was life again. We agreed we liked the café before the chandeliers and with the bare brick walls.
But he bought no books.
C’est la vie.