The previous chapter A Girl To Remember
I awoke in a daze while still in the coffee shop. My head had been resting in front of my keyboard lying on my folded arms. I remember wondering about the length of my nap. It wasn’t narcolepsy, but from time to time I fall asleep following several hours of writing or typing. Every night I write for hours and into the next morning in my small studio in Astoria while listening to music, mostly oldies, classical or classic rock. Around four, five or even six in the morning I sometimes pass out like I did in the coffee shop. I also enjoy listening during the early hours of the morning to the sounds of passing vehicles outside my first floor window. Trucks changing gears make me happy knowing life is continuing outside my place. In the past I have enjoyed going across the country traveling by bus, train, or car and often late at night those sounds make me smile because some diligent human is earning an honest wage doing a job that demands difficult hours. Knowing that passing out during the night or early morning is a distinct possibility, I make sure to set my cell phone alarm before I start writing. Falling asleep during the day was a new one for me. Freelance gigs had been drying up on me and so was my money. So, I spent much of my time researching and applying for jobs online.
As a struggling writer, freelancing is the only way that I can work and still have enough time to write. I have never made much money but I am writing and that is all that counts. However, freelancing has been getting more difficult. With the economic downturn, fewer jobs are available which makes the freelance world very competitive. Finding work at this time is not easy. In fact it is damn near impossible especially when I need the money right away. Everyone has told me to just go here or there but times have changed and experience matters more today than in the past. The problem with this is that if you can’t get hired, you never get any experience. Even lower waged jobs such as department stores and fast food places require hours of filling out information over the Internet. In the past you could just go into any place and ask if they were hiring. Nowadays businesses often make you jump through hula hoops for eight bucks an hour, if you are even lucky enough to get a reply. It was going on a couple years since I had moved back to New York from California and I was barely surviving. Other than freelance gigs I relied on temp jobs, and credit cards. Many urged or advised me to move away from such an expensive city. I was often told to “try another career instead of the starving artist.” My love of and desire for the arts continued to inspire me, especially writing which drove me everyday, night and into my dreams where I often wrote. My subconscious affected my dreams from my insane and adventurous reality and I kept heavy note of it. I especially loved dreaming and remembered many of my vivid dreams from years past dating back to childhood. Some of my dreams I turned into short stories.
Readjusting my sleep filled eyes I noticed something that had seemed unreal and dream related. It was the man from my dream standing too confidently and casually over me. The unmasked hero who had saved Anya and I the previous night. My subconscious and its effect on my dreams were spooky but so was this man. I knew it was he but at the same time I closed and reopened my eyes three times to make sure. The man handed me his business card, turned and walked over to wait for his coffee. What ego I thought. All it said on his card in twelve-point times new roman non-bold font was his name. I flipped it over and it said nothing. I remembered laughing with my mouth closed as only air whistled through my nose. Turning back around I saw that his coffee order brought a few more minutes for me as he headed to the men’s room.
It was 6 pm and I decided to check my Internet history to see how long I had been passed out. I last used it at 2:35 p.m. but questioned how long it took before I closed my eyes. I decided to ask the people working at the coffee shop. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me sleeping and thus was looking at me with concern or curiosity. My eyes refocused while my ears had trouble adjusting properly to the pop music playing in the store that I dislike and continue to have difficulty listening to, mainly since the year 2000. Sometimes I feel like an old soul not only because of the music I listen to but also my favorite movies and cars are from many decades ago including most of my favorite authors. Looking around no one was looking at me, which seemed odd but at the same time a relief. I wondered if they had all looked away the second I woke up to make me feel less embarrassed. I ordered an ice blended mocha even though it was winter. The flavor kept me happy and that drink never gave me the feeling of pure caffeine. I often went to coffee shops but almost never ordered a coffee. Earlier when I first arrived I only ordered water. The girl who served me was named Claire. She had dark black hair and the way she moved so freely while she worked made me smile. Unawake, I only smiled in my mind but I at least tried. “Here you go”, she said and handed me my drink. “Thanks”, I said and started to put my wallet away when she hit me with it. “How was your nap?” Claire asked while smiling. “Long overdue” I replied and walked back to the table. I packed up my things by the time the mystery man returned. His first name on his card read Francesco. “Sorry about the wait”, he said. He sipped a part of his cappuccino and then kind of laughed while attempting to swallow his hot drink. Francesco continued to speak. “I bumped into an old friend back there who gave me some important insight into his world. He is a banker from another time period.” I turned in the direction of where he was looking and no one was there. “He just left”, said Francesco. I remember thinking what other time period? Was he just joking?”
Francesco requested that I follow him and led the way. He led me to a nearby restaurant, which seemed miles away because of the unbearable low temperatures outside. So cold that the wind cut through my wool gloves and made my hands shake. That morning was in the mid twenties but now it was much colder by comparison. It had felt like it was below zero. Attempting to run was no help because the wind cut right through my face and felt like the result from a punch after a fight. Then again, walking wasn’t much better. We walked together but never exchanged any words. This could have been because of the extreme numbing weather and he was just trying to get to the restaurant faster to get warm and talk. We arrived and the place was packed with only two open seats. We choose the one furthest from the door. After sitting, a quick uncomfortable silence was felt on my part. He just sat their reviewing the menu while I was thinking about why I was here and my money problems. I wondered how many more nights I would be staying at the hostel. He called for the waitress and said, “trust me”.
Then it happened only differently this time. I had met another girl except she wasn’t Anya. She had a simpler, kinder and gentler side to her. Her name was Jenna but to me she wasn’t your average girl holding a pink collar job, or maybe she was and that is what I liked about her. She was a hard worker from what I could tell as she worked the room, waiting on several tables. I often liked to guess things about people, not necessarily assumptions but more based on curiosity or wonder. She was beautiful and had dark blonde hair. It was her smile that made it hard for me to resist. She had specific differences from Anya such as an almost too sweet voice. She was caught off guard when I asked for her name. Francesco ordered for both of us but at that moment I decided that I would come back sometime soon just to talk to her, money or no money. I had no idea what he ordered but that was hardly my concern. I broke the silence by saying, “thank you, but you did not need to buy me lunch.” Halfway though my sentence his phone rang and I was again by myself as he stepped away. This wasn’t going great but it wasn’t going horribly, I just felt indifferent. I would directly ask him one important question when he came back.
By the time he did come back the food had been sitting on the table for ten or fifteen minutes and I was half way finished with what he ordered us, some delicious salmon and rice plate. Francesco began to eat when I tried to speak. There were plenty of questions rumbling through my mind but at that moment there was only one that I needed answered. I kept thinking why me and why am I here. I just need to convey it to him. I began to speak when he spoke. “New York can be a lonely place, millions of people walk the streets of this incredible island but most miss out on any humane connection with others; I have been here for decades and I can grasp people at first sight. I chose you to document some interesting events that lie ahead. You can make your decision based on your interest or because you feel you owe me one. I don't want to spend time explaining this because the odyssey itself will clarify the meaning. If you are ready to take this journey with me let’s get ready and start. I will introduce you to some exceptional people and to some less exceptional. Their lives go back into history, some are conscious of it some are not. These people are the key to explaining a very contemporary, technological and humanistic reality called the Blockchain.”
He was as sharp with his ideas as his was with his fork. He was already done with his meal. A man who knows what he wants but at the same time someone with a strange and odd way of getting things and going after them. He knew more about me than he should have. He handed me a manila envelope paid for the check and left. I still had unanswered questions but at least there was a rhyme and reason for him seeking me out. This was something that I really needed to think about.
I decided to go back to the hostel. On the subway ride back all I thought about was the dream and the mysterious man who had known much about me. He gave me two tickets to a Judo event after saving the lives of Anya and myself. Had he planned to give them away? In my dream he found me and my phone number and asked to speak to me over lunch. In reality we ate dinner together. I wondered what I was about to get myself into. It had up and downs like a roller coaster. What type of people did he know? Could this be good for networking? My days at the hostel were dwindling. However, I wondered if Francesco's assignment would make the story that I was currently writing about people exciting and full of life.
I arrived back at the hostel and headed downstairs with my composition book and three ballpoint black pens. I always carried three no matter where I went and had been using this method for years. The reason I carried three was in case I lose a pen or if someone asks to borrow one and doesn’t return it. If somehow I was to lose the third I revert back to baseball with three strikes and you are out. At the bottom of the stairs to the left were two refrigerators that anyone, as long as you labeled your food by name and date, could use. To the left of them was the kitchen that had multiple stoves and enough pots, pans, dishes and silverware for a hundred people. Turning to the right was a big open space that led to what I previously had called the man cave. I walked over to the giant glassed top back table that must have been eight feet in length by four feet wide. I sat in the middle, which faced a brick wall with a 55-inch flat screen TV. Several people were sitting around me drinking, conversing and having a great time. It was Sunday night and I assumed that they had spent the weekend in the city. Friendly strangers from all over the world were seated next to me. Most of them were in their early twenties, some in their thirties and one or two couples in their fifties or older. It was a bit too chaotic for me to write so I started talking and chatting with many around me. I met a short girl named Shine who also happened to be staying in the room I had. She was from Beijing and had a uniqueness to her. When she spoke she was very polite, sat up front with perfect posture and looked me straight in the eye. Even when I spoke she never looked away. She was also especially proud of her roots and education. “What did you go to school for she asked”, I replied with “my B.A. is in screenwriting, feature film.” “What’s screenwriting” she asked. I told her succinctly, “movie writing.” We talked for a while until an Australian couple came up to me. They sat down and introduced themselves. They had to have been in their late sixties. Vicki led the way. “I saw you writing, I am a writer also.” They handed me a beer, in fact several, that I was unfamiliar with and we conversed for hours. I learned that Fosters is not Australian for beer as they told me while laughing. Apparently this is a misconception from our American commercials. It had been a long day and after meeting everyone I headed upstairs to sleep.
I awoke the next morning with a note, lying next to me in my bed. “Hi sorry for disturbing you in this way. I’m Shine. I’m very interested in movies. But my major is logistics. Cuz I have to choose the major which will make me find job easier. You’re so brave that you can do the thing you like. When I was little, I like writing a lot stories. But now I have to do the thing I have to do instead of I want to do. So I’m touched by you. Nice to meet you. My email “ “I hope we can keep in touch about movies. Good night.” Her note inspired me and I knew it was going to be a great day. At the same moment I knew I had a big decision to make.
Chapter 4 - Much Water Had Passed Under The Bridges