This is where I'm posting excerpts as I'm going along, so keep in mind that everything on this page is very Rough Draft. --G
“I’m telling you, buddy, you need to just go over and talk to the girl.”
“Yeah, right. What would I say?”
“What do you ever say?”
“My point exactly.”
“C’mon, man. Just be yourself. That worked with Maria, didn’t it?”
I leveled a look at him. “Maria turned out to be gay.”
Pi looked back at me. “So?”
I sighed. “Nothing, man. Nothing.”
Pi brushed a few of his dreadlocks out of his eyes and tucked them behind his ears. They stayed there for approximately five seconds before they came free again and swung back down in front of his nose. “The point is, you ain’t never gonna get the girl if’n you don’t go up and talk to her.”
I looked at Pi. “There are some things that are best left admired from afar.”
“Maybe.” He leaned across the table, pulled his sunglasses off his nose, and stared at me with those bright blue eyes of his. “But a woman isn’t one of them. A woman is a thing best experienced right up close. The smell of her as you nuzzle her neck first thing in the morning. The taste of her lips right after the two of you have shared a peppermint stick. The feel of her waist against your bare arms as you wrap them around her, when you’re watching the sun set out over the Pacific, and the feel of her arms as they come down and hold yours there.” He pauses for effect. “Women are not meant to be fantasized about, to be admired from afar. Women are to be experienced, up close and personal. Women are to be cherished, right there in your arms.”
I stared at him. “That’s got to be the best speech I’ve ever heard.”
“Daddy was a speechwriter for the mayor of Cincy. Now go get her.”
I stood up, nodded solemnly at him, and snapped my heels together. “Aye, captain!” I barked, then grinned. “Thanks, man.”
“Don’t mention it, man. I’ve gotta get going myself. The Inflatable Sheep are calling.”
I raised an eyebrow at him. “You mean there really is a group called the Inflatable Sheep?” He grinned. “Hell, no, but it makes a good excuse to leave you to your hunting.” He pointed a finger at me. “Don’t forget, though, you do have a meeting in the morning.”
“What, the meeting about the web site?”
“Yeah. What, isn’t that tomorrow?” “Hell, no,” I shot back. “It just made a good excuse to take off.” I broke into a grin. “Thanks again, Pi.”
“Yeah. Gimme a call. Lemme know how this works out.” H shot a glance toward the bar. “Hell, if she doesn’t go for you, maybe I’ll take a crack at her myself.”
I looked over at the bar, and when I looked back, Pi was gone. I glanced around to find him, but he was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, I tugged on the cuffs of my windbreaker, ran a hand through my hair, and sat back down in the booth. Who was I kidding?
I leaned back and watched her work. She really was beautiful. The barista could only have been, like, two years younger than me, but she carried herself with the mannerisms of a woman who’d been around the world. Her hair was long and light brown, pulled back into a ponytail to keep it out of her soft, golden brown eyes. Her skin was a light tan, and when she moved I could see the tan line appear at the edges of her shirt-sleeves. She kept a paperback copy of HOWL tucked in the back pocket of her black jeans, and the side pockets bristled with the tips of pens and colored pencils. This was not a sunbather, but the kind of girl who would sit out in the sun and read or write or listen to music. The baristas in this place wore those little self-made nametags, the ones that they’d glued together from little bits and pieces of old magazines and what not. Hers had a picture of Billie Holliday on it, with a black squiggly line running around the outside, and in the middle of it was written in blue ink, Anna.
I felt a chill run up my back, and suddenly the room began to do funny things.
Do you know the way you can get sick in a hurry? The way the entire floor can just fall out from under you? It’s happened a couple of times to me, and each time the best thing to do was close the eyes for a couple of minutes, and when I opened them again, everything would be all right. Everything would be just fine.
I closed my eyes and put my head down on my arms.