The following scene might be in my next book, “A Tale of Two Books” (working title). Best selling author Jack Hopper’s life begins to fall apart after his wife leaves him for another man. I’m writing some chapters, such as this one, in the second person (you) for a reason. You’ll understand when you read the book.
It’s late, or early depending on your perspective. Right now, it’s all relative but relativity doesn’t mean a damn thing to you right now. Erica just walked out, this time for good she said. You want to die, so you set yourself on a path of destruction determining to drink yourself to death. To drown in a tub of brew, washing away your life the best way you know how. You start with beer at Bob’s, chasing them with shots of whatever is put before you. You decide to take this drinking binge around the world, so you leave Bob’s not quite staggering yet and stop at the Greek restaurant, where you sit at the bar and drink a couple of glasses of Retsina. From the Greek place, you head to the Turkish fast food place; there, Raki takes over. The spirits do you good, but Sangria is what you really need, but the Spanish joint is closed; so you settle for Lambrusco at Mario’s instead. It’s sweet but not sweet enough. And if there were a Russian place around, you would have scaled the wall of the Kremlin for a few shots of vodka about now. You’ve been around the world a dozen times in your life, but never this quickly nor this recklessly. You’ve searched out the bars and the bedrooms in every foreign place you’ve been. And now, you’re stuck in this city with a hundred or so bars at your choosing and not a bedroom in sight.
You check your watch and figure this drinking binge has been going on for about four hours. A normal man would have been sleeping in the garbage behind some dump by now, but you are not a normal man. You are Jack Hopper and that means something. At least it did once, you think.
Strong coffee would cure the soul now, but your soul’s not ready to be cured. The wounds are still too fresh and you’re still determined to end this night one way or the other.
You get hungry and decide you need some substance to soak up some of the alcohol. There’s an all-night diner that is supposed to serve up pretty good burgers not far from here. You’ve never been there so you decide to check it out. You go in and take a corner table near the kitchen door. Then, when you least expect or need it, she flirts by, with tray in hand, brushing your shoulder. Her black uniform fits tight around her waist taunting a lean waitress body. You want to get to know her. You momentarily forget Erica and the fact that she just dumped you for another man.
In your best drunken slur, you blabber something about being a famous writer who doesn’t deserve this, and so on, and so on, but you’re hungry and drunk and would like a large cheeseburger with fries.
The waitress looks at you puzzled, but somehow understands your order. “Something to drink with that, sir?” she asks.
“A cup of coffee, please,” you slur almost drooling as you peer at her breasts while she wipes the table you’re sitting at.
You watch as she returns to the kitchen and you can see her and the cook talking and looking your way and you think maybe you should leave before they decide you’re destitute and call the cops. Then you see her pouring the coffee and figure everything is OK for now.
“Here’s your coffee, sir.”
“Thanks. I need this about now.”
“I would say so,” she says. “Pardon me, sir, but can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Are you Jack Hopper, the writer?”
Salvation, you think. “Yes, that’s me.”
Her eyes light up and she yells back to the cook, “Carl, it’s him. I told you it was him.” Luckily you’re the only one in the place.
“Mr. Hopper, I’ve read all of your books.”
That’s what all the literary groupies say just before they tell you that they always wanted to be a writer, or they have an idea for a book, or that they have written a book, or that they want to sleep with you.
“You know, Mr. Hopper, I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
“Well, you should… and please call me Jack,” you say, not wanting to here that particular version of the literary groupie playbook. “Maybe we can get together and talk about it sometime.”
“That would be great,” those big green eyes say. She takes a napkin and writes something on it and hands it to you.
“Here’s my phone number. My name’s Peggy.”
“Is that like Peggy Sue?”
“I be damned. Peggy Sue is what my mama and daddy call me, but I prefer just Peggy. It doesn’t’ sound so hokey.”
“Where you from, Peggy?”
“Macon, Georgia.” She smiles flashing a big wide row of white teeth that shine in the light.
“Never been to Macon. Been in Atlanta many times, though.”
“Well, you ain’t missing much. This is so awesome. I’m serving Jack Hopper. Who would’ve ever thought of it?” Peggy’s running on all eight cylinders now telling you all about how she’s never met anybody famous before and how much she loved your books, and so on and so on. After a few more minutes of listening to non-stop small talk, and a coffee refill, you pay the bill, leaving a five-dollar tip, and take Peggy’s phone number and leave.
The city lights have dimmed and the streets are empty. It’s three a.m. You’re slightly sobered, but feeling lightheaded and heavyhearted. So you go back to Bob’s for another beer and one last chance at getting lucky before you head home.