I’ve been a playwright, a locksmith, and a legal aide. In none of these roles have I had to perform acts befitting the trade. I would merely be in a theatre, a workshop, or a courthouse. To what ends I couldn’t say. Perhaps to admire how well the spaces were defined. I’ll give my writer props, he can write a good picture. And once in a while sticks with it long enough to create scenes and, more rarely, something of a story—though I’d say sketches better describes his modest assemblages of scenes.
One such sketch had me in Carmel-by-the-Sea. I stayed in a motel on the highway. ‘On the doorstep of the great Big Sur.’ Waiting for a delivery of some kind. A delivery that didn’t arrive. Not while I was there at least. In the meantime, for 5 or 6 days, I wandered to the seaside during the day and sat in a dingy bar at night. The main things that happened were that I became mesmerized by the ‘windswept majesty’ of Monterey cypress trees and that I hooked up with Candy. Who I bought drinks for and threw darts with and let share my bed. Where I learned of her prolonged residence at a drug-crazed artist colony, from which she had recently dispatched herself, and of her longing to travel South America. I also discovered that she was tattooed from the waist down in faintly rendered fish scales. My mermaid. A bit dazzled by life and the throes of addiction recovery, but we got on just fine and had us some fun along the way.
Put this wise it sounds as though Candy was the item to be delivered. I don’t know from narrative devices, but in retrospect it does seem I was in Carmel to enable Candy, if that makes any sense.
Let me venture an aside here. My writer uses me to a) be the eyes in the spaces he constructs, and b) engage with and draw out relevant details from the other characters he deems fit to send in my direction.
In a sense, then, my chief function has been to collect stories.
Certainly an accurate description of my main calling. By default I tend bar. Previous to the whole Annabelle Ruthers deal I even ran my own shop. A narrow hole in the wall called The Tap. I had nothing to do with its name but I think it fair to say I made it the cozy establishment it was. Serving host to a handful of oddballs who, over time, became a closeknit crew of rambunctious regulars. Most nights The Tap was venue for all manner of topical debates: why we do what we do, how things are forever in transition, what the next controversy might be, how the stars feature in our daily interactions, etc. I had staff: generally transient souls, coming and going, and of course the indomitable and irreplaceable BeeBee (who’s spirited optimism and down-home motherliness overshadowed the trailerpark hair and the gritty vocals of a lifelong smoker). On weekends a philosophical piano player, Eddy, tinkled the keys between garbled monologues of contemporary profanity.
All-in-all a pretty decent room to call my own.
Til it burned to the ground.
I was there the night it happened. Smelled the smoke and saw the back wall of the main room ignite into a vertical sheet of flame. I kept my wits. Ushered everyone out and with a cluster of regulars watched from across the street as the fire took hold. Fiercely glowing against the dark night sky.
Then nothing. Another hiatus. For months. Til outta the blue getta call from Lorelei.
What can I say. My writer has his head in the clouds.
He clearly has designs on writing mysteries—me being prime among them. Only problem is he doesn’t seem all that interested in solving them.
And, you know, the thing of it is, I mean, if I’m honest, is that, well, I never had much faith in there being a future. For me, I mean.
Maybe that’s what this is about. Me writing.
Getting things down. Taking the reins. Having my say.
Wonder if Candy’s still out there somewhere.
Had I my way I’d make mine a story of finding her again.
And I’m thinking to myself, why not? Go looking for Candy? Sounds a solid thing to aim for.
But I suppose my first priority should be stitch together my own loose thread.