On Janet Reid’s recommendation, I recently read Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone. The result was a promise to myself I’d NEVER have the chutzpah to write again. Did I mention Lou Berney is a three-time Edgar-nominated author? Breaking my own word was hard, and I had to push myself to get any writing done. So make no promises, but if you haven’t read this book yet, order it now; thank me later. The creep will wait. https://www.amazon.com/Long-Faraway-Gone-Novel/dp/0062292439
The starring café staff:
Forest (eighteen!) – the bartender. His father is an Israeli poet, his mother is a Japanese healer, and he is an angel.
Paz – the server; an actress in the making. Sweet, brave, and opinionated, she always sits with me at the end of her shifts.
Mickey – the night-shift manager; a great problem solver. He is working on a project that will benefit many and is keeping me in the loop.
Thursday, midnight at the café:
I was sitting outdoors, struggling to write (after that promise). When I finished my coffee, I took the empty cup inside. I always put my dishes away. It makes Forest and Paz laugh, and they remind me it’s not my job.
The guy who was sitting behind me (thirty-something) with his friend, was gawking at me when I got back, just as he did when I left my seat.
He finally spoke up when I was seated again. “May I ask what you are writing?”
I turned around. He blushed. I told him.
Then Noam, the gawker, shared his interest in philosophy. Noam’s friend, Saul, a bald guy with soft green eyes (or empty? It was hard to tell), moved his chair closer. He asked Noam if he had ever run into me in the neighborhood gym (we all live in the same neighborhood).
“No,” Noam replied. “And I’d never forget her face if I saw her.” Then he blushed again.
We were the only customers left when a woman I knew from work ran toward me out of nowhere—or so it seemed—and hugged me.
“OMG, Lilac,” she cried out. “I spotted you from my date’s car. We were just passing by the café. I told him it was you and asked him to stop and wait for me.” She pointed in his direction. “I take seeing you as a good sign about this date.”
I wanted to tell her the only good sign was if her date behaved. But she’d already hurried back to him, leaving behind a gleaming trail of romantic promise.
Then the guys left, too.
As I walked home, the street was dark and empty. Suddenly, someone was riding his bike straight at me. I panicked, then realized it was Saul.
He stopped just before bumping into me and asked, “Did I scare you?”
“Yes, you did,” I replied.
He didn’t apologize, but rode right next to me. I stopped at the 24/7 supermarket, and he went on his way.
Friday, 09:00 p.m. at the café:
I was sitting indoors (it was raining), getting ready for a big writing night. Saul arrived with a new friend. They sat at a table right next to mine, talking to me as if it were a planned meeting.
I started to worry I’d never be able to write there again and shared my concerns with the staff.
Paz said Saul was never polite to her.
Forest listened in Forest’s way, making me feel nothing was as bad as it seemed because angels do exist.
Mickey said, “Use earphones when you write. If you see someone you know, take out only one earphone and say a polite, ‘Hi, how are you?’ Then put the earphone back in your ear immediately.”
I hate blocking my ears, but I bought earphones anyway (then forgot to use them).
Sunday, midnight at the café:
I was sitting outdoors when I spotted someone lurking in the shadows nearby and shooting strange glances at me. Then he walked back and forth by the café’s entrance, and then… he came straight at me and sat at my table.
I closed my laptop. “I was just about to leave,” I said.
I asked for the check. He asked for coffee and started to talk. He reminded me of Lana (only he was less of an endless talker and more of a creepy stalker).
I had to do something. But women are taught to be polite at all costs. Even when people are rude to us. (And even when they hurt us.)
I stood up and said, “I have to go now.”
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. at the café:
When I spotted Saul coming toward me again, I said abrasively, “I’m writing.” Then I hugged my laptop protectively.
Mickey, who was standing nearby with his back turned to Saul, clapped his hands silently and mouthed, “Good for you.”
Saul left, and I didn’t see him again.
But I did see Noam, the gawker, the blushing one. The one who had said he’d never forget my face.
He completely ignored me.
What do you think Saul told him?