Wilbo was winding up his evening at the Lake House. The sun had set, a beautiful sight, although a lack of overhead clouds had limited the projection of colors. He had heard the band play its last number, a favorite, Pricetag by Jessie J, The band featured Andrea Mathews on vocals, and she warbled like a rare bird as she improvised embellishments to the lyrics. He had sipped a Budweiser, in the bottle please, and paid plus tipped his astonishingly good looking bartenders, Paula and Anastasia. Subscribing to the buck a bottle theory of tipping, he left a dollar and the change on the counter top. The Lake House might ask the highest prices in Muskegon for food and beverage, and yet the location is a great explanation for the prices. It also has one of the prime locations on a broad expanse of waterfront, although there's competitors for best view.
The Main Street has a view of downtown Muskegon that reduces the Shoreline Inn to a toy for children's fingers. The deck could use a coat of paint. The Deck is just that, a huge, extensive deck that peeps at the Muskegon Harbor and the Pere Marquette Beach strand. It has a large federally protected dune that blocks most of the Lake Michigan panorama. Dockers is nice, and it has an extensive deck that doubles as a Tiki Bar, and yet viewing only the moats and channels of bankrupt yacht club, it doesn't have enough open water to make one thirsty for a second round. During the summer, Wilbo visits them all, looking for a conversation and maybe an answer to "Who to call on a Friday evening"?
So not sure who to call for Friday evening this week, Wilbo wandered the main room of the Lake House, and a woman was intently focusing on a stack of papers at the bar. He remembered walking up to talk to an attractive person last summer who was taking a picture of a glass of wine, and that attractive person turned out to be a guy. The fellow was kind, a long hair unsalted surfer who had forgotten meeting Wilbo the previous summer, and he said, "These are not the droids you are seeking". So this gave Wilbo pause.
It was a short pause. He walked up to her side, and happily noticed that she was definately a woman. He said, "Are you reviewing scripts ahead of a flight out to Hollywood"? The stack of papers was really a pile of depositions she had taken during the day. She scooped up a bite of her caprese salad, with buffalo mozzarella and bite size bits of fresh asparagus and cherry tomatoes. She flipped a deposition off the stack and started in on the next, reading and talking and eating at the same time, a multi-tasker, socializing and billing a client. "No, just going over today's documents in preparation for a meeting tomorrow. Have you ever had this salad here before? It's insanely good! I'm a vegetarian, and I'm glad I'm not a vegan because this mozzarella is so fresh and vegans can't eat cheese".
Wilbo is always happy to find a conversation. It doesn't matter if it goes anywhere. It doesn't matter if phone numbers or emails are exchanged at the end. In college, he learned that the Buddhists of the early years wandered the world, striking up conversations under Bodhi trees.
She had a tiny diamond on her hand, and it was set in a tarnished gold setting. Wilbo had gotten into the habit of drawing conclusions on wedding rings, the smallest diamonds reminding him of his grandmother's rings. Wilbo's first wife enjoyed a sparkling, one caret marquise cut on her finger from the day she moved in with Wilbo, April 1990. It surprised him that a successful lawyer hadn't yet traded up to a more spectacular ring. She had booked one of the Shoreline Inn's corner rooms with a view of the water from one of the club floors, so she was no stranger to indulgence.
The conversation turned to Manistee, where she was slated to travel and take depositions at a small chain hotel. She asked Wilbo if that hotel had adequate accomodations. Wilbo winced and said, "You'll be happier in the Ramsdell Inn, which is decorated in a Victorian theme. After all the client wants you well rested, babied after hours so you can be a legal tiger during the day". She flipped to a fresh page of her legal and she wrote down the name. "It's got all that you want. Proper bedsheets. Adjacency to the riverwalk and a set of nicer bars and another set of not so nice bars. And you'll be able to drive to that chain hotel in no time at all".
She didn't invite Wilbo to sit down. And names hadn't been exchanged by the time the Caprese Salad was finished. She spilled a scrap of tomato pulp on a file folder and wiped in clean with her napkin. She played with a wire, which had once powered her iPhone 5. "My phone is dead, and my iPhone charger is trash".
"I have two in my car. Might I lend you one"?
"How would I get it back to you".
"Just leave it at the front counter".
"I could do that. What's your name?" She wrote Wilbo on her yellow legal pad under the name of the inn, "The Ramsdell Inn".
"My phone has the tiny power plug. Are you sure yours fits?"
"It's for an iPhone 5. That good? Your world needs to hear from you tonight".
Wilbo went out to his car, and couldn't find the cheaper charger, and so he brought in the more expensive one, costing twenty-five dollars. He looked up at the northwestern corner of the hotel, and one room up high didn't have a light in the windows. He had spent more than one night in the hotel, although never as an guest. It wasn't going to be that kind of night.
Back at the bar, he gave her the charger. She said her name was Carla, and Wilbo and Carla shook hands. Carla said, "I'll be back early next week. Come and look for me".
Wilbo got into his car to go home, but before starting his motor, he checked his messages. The one he had waited for all day still hadn't shown up.