Chapter 3: Gears & Oil

See previous post for Chapter 2 of my first (serial) novel, "Bluer Than Blue."

Maxine adjusted a pin in her thick coiled braid and strutted over in her black boots, keys rattling.

"Is he bothering you."

This was a statement rather than a question.

"Well, no - I mean, yes maybe. No, actually. No."

The gears in Sheila's mind were oiled and cranking. Her idea flowered finer than the finest MFA. This Harold. He could be the key.

"Don't worry about it..."

Sheila's eyes drifted to the name tag on Maxine's left breast and focused in.

"...Maxine. He's okay."

Maxine's forehead wrinkled and then flattened. After all, that was a case of practical boob gandering by the same sex.

"You're sure."

"Yes, it's okay. Harold here was just about to tell me his story, how he got to this place - here, at this table."

Sheila was fired up by happenstance.

"I wuz...?" said Harold, suddenly more alert. He leaned forward and looked back and forth between the women.

Maxine was a little let down that she wasn't hauling Harold out the curb, but this exchange was beginning to come in at a close second.

"So you’re a social worker."

Maxine managed to downturn the end of every question so that is sounded like a regular sentence. It was clear, though, that she was curious, much to the chagrin of those civilians nearby trying to become absorbed by a separate literary universe. Those who were not trying so hard to study were interested and left an ear open to the conversation.

"No, I'm a writer."

Harold raised his eyebrows and clasped his hands. Though the gears in his clock were rusty to say the least, he was starting to get a notion of where this could go, and was unsure what it meant for him in material returns.

"Ah yes, yes a writer. I'll tell you what I know."

"A writer, huh. And you don't have anything better to write about than this guy, this vagrant, bringing his smelly smell in here and disturbing the peace."

Maxine was speaking somewhat loudly.

"Hey, hey. I'm just sittin' here and now you're gettin' ugly."

All the attention caused Harold's long fossilized self respect to re-emerge into consciousness.

"Hey!" A bald bespectacled patron a couple of tables over hissed. "You're disturbing the peace right now - all of you! This is a lii-braar-ee."

The obvious. It should have been a strong case but think back on grade school.

Maxine put a hand on her utility belt.

"Please. I own this place."

The patron responded with a stupefied "Really? Come On - Really??" expression on his face. The two were coming from different planets.

"Okay..." Maxine continued. "Ya'll need to take this little getting-to-know-you session downstairs to the lecture room. And you -- "

"I'm Harold."

"Okay Harold. I better not catch you sleeping in the stacks, or the stairwell, or anyplace. Once you're done, you'd better get out and be on your way."

"How long's this goin' to take..." Harold murmured.

Sheila felt she was hanging on to her former reality by a thread.

"Maxine - thank you."

Harold slowly lowered his coarse and creased hand toward the table and slapped it heavily. The bald patron rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh of disgust as he noisily turned his next page. He was reading about seventeenth century Flemish painters, or so it seemed. Inside the outer book was another book about recurring dreams. Recently, almost every night, he'd been dreaming he was a starving vampire. Kind of unsettling, and he hadn't figured out yet what questions he should be asking himself.

Harold looked up from his own hand on the wood grain.

"Woah, woah, woah - wait a minute here. You're sayin' you want to use me, use me as a subject...To write my memoirs? Memoirs they call it? Well... We have to wait just a minute here. I have some demaands."