A Small Story

The woman sat by the long window of the coffee shop, making ridiculous and exaggerated faces at her laptop screen. I sat at least ten feet away, studiously not looking directly at her. Her hair was dyed a deep jade hue and tied into a ponytail, one which seemed to be centered on nothing except perhaps imagination. She wore a red shirt and had a long blue tie loosely around her neck. The tie was thrown over her left shoulder.

My coffee was too hot and as a result, I found myself furiously blowing on it. I realized that this was largely ineffective, given that the lid was still on the cup. I laughed. As I did, I looked briefly toward the green-haired woman. She was looking directly at me. I quickly looked away. And then back. She was still looking in my direction.

She motioned with her hand for me to join her at her table.

Not sure about what might happen next, I took my laptop and coffee and walked to the window, pulled the chair away from the table, and sat down.

“Hi, I’m Sue,” the woman said, smiling. “You must be John,” she said.

I hesitated. “No, I’m not John at all. I’m Kirk.”

“You look like a John. Are you sure your name isn’t John? Take a moment and think about it.” She continued to smile.

“Uh… No. I’m Kirk,” I said. I knew I sounded a bit stupid.

She reached her left hand across the table, presumably to shake mine. I thought about putting a sugar pack in her hand. Instead, I grabbed her hand as she shook it.

Sue turned her laptop around and showed me the screen. On it, a picture of me from a few years ago was displayed. My mind went blank for a second as I tried to bridge the gap of just meeting her and seeing my picture on her laptop.

Sue laughed. “Relax, Kirk. This is something I do.”

“For a living?” I asked.

“No, as a hobby. I write freelance to pay the bills. That and buy and sell nonsense on the internet.” She turned her laptop back in her direction.

“What kind of writing do you do?” Writers always fascinate me.

“All kinds. I even write dialog for screenwriters. That’s fun. Want to hear an example?” She quizzically titled her head, knowing I was going to say yes.

“Okay. A couple of years ago, a writer for an ABC sitcom needed an excuse to get someone to a cemetery. So I had the character say, ‘Anytime I need to cry a lot, I go to the cemetery, because no one questions someone crying there.’ That’s pretty good, huh?”

I was already nodding my head in agreement.

“Another one? I had the idea that the character should put a greenscreen inside his car, so that everyone would think he was at home, instead of driving to Dallas.” She laughed. “But that’s been done six hundred and two times now, thanks to the pandemic.”

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

“I accidentally burned down the neighbor’s house when I was 14,” Sue said.

When I looked at her face to gauge her sincerity, she winked.

“That is some secret, yes,” I told her.

“It’s not a secret now, though, is it?”

“No, but I also meant what’s your secret for success?” I smiled.

“I have no clue. It’s mostly been luck and being in right place at the wrong time and sometimes vice versa. But you know that.” She smiled.

“Well, I guess I’m in the right place at the right time now, aren’t I?” I laughed.

“Touché! Ha! But yes. We have a lot to talk about, don’t we?”

I leaned back in my chair, not questioning her assumption. It turned out she was right.

Two hours later, I knew both nothing and everything about her. It seemed like the best start possible.

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