dust boatman view thought
terra autem erat inanis et vacua
The early afternoon traffic was light and the sky was blue. So far so good, he thought as he pulled into the Cobblestone Tavern’s parking lot. A few cars and pickup trucks were scattered around. A couple guys on the bench outside the barber shop next door, talkin’ and spittin’. Spenn had been told to meet someone here for lunch. That was that. He did what he was told.
He pushed the door open, and squinting, looked around the room before stepping in. A pool player was studying his shot, looked towards the door and squinted back. A figure at the end of the bar was studying his shot. There were a few people talking at tables over by the shuffleboard. He nodded to the bartender as he walked toward the well-dressed gentleman in the suit seated with his back against the wall. He had seen him in the hotel dining room on Saturday nights with Tony Jack and his friends.
“In principio creavit Deus caelum, et terram”, softly spoken in a nicely detectable British manner, the meaning lost on Spenn. “Have a seat, Spenn. Let us break bread.”
At the moment, bread was the remaining half pitcher of beer. Rev poured a glass for Spenn. “Fiat lux. Et facta est lux? Brush up on your Latin when you can. Thank you for joining me for lunch. You work at the Finland Hotel, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir. Ray lets me work on Saturday nights, help him in the kitchen and clean up tables out front. The twenty-dollar bills on your table are always the best tips of the night.” Spenn felt good, but a little nervous talking to the Rev.
“Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum.” Rev brushed some ash from the table. “I was speaking from Genesis, Spenn, have you read it lately? It truly is the in the beginning book that sets up the entire Bible story. I ordered us a couple ham sandwiches, ex omni lingo Paradisi comede, in a manner of speaking.”
Spenn did not know what he was supposed to say, if he should say anything, but he wanted to keep up his part of the conversation, if he could. “My grandpa used to read to me out of his grandfather’s old Douay Rheims bible. I remember his deep voice saying in a very serious way, ‘in the beginning God created heaven, and earth’, and a whole lot more. And I know that it is serious.”
Rev looked at Spenn, and gave a slight nod, of approval, maybe. “Spenn, do you believe that stuff about God?”
“Yes, sir, I guess I do.”
“You can’t guess about it forever. You can guess that the Lions might win on Sunday, but you have to think about God, and decide, for certain, while you can. That’s a good sandwich, isn’t it? I don’t think Ray at the hotel could make a better one.”
Rev was adjusting his shirt cuffs and brushing more dust from the table. Spenn was nodding, chewing, thinking, and wondering if this was Rev’s version of small talk, hoping it was over.
Reverend raised his glass and said, “Cheers, to this life, to this business. I help clients balance out”, he said crisply. He took an easy drag off his short Camel, exhaled long and used it to light a new one before it drowned in a beer glass.
“So, you mean kinda’ like a CPA, a counter. You do addin’ and subtractin’. I like math.” Spenn was feeling good, having a business conversation, with a man in a suit.
“I mean, quite simply, balancing out, making things even. After my seminary classes in Oxford, I studied business tactics and pub brawling at night, before coming to the states to be a consultant.”
The next pitcher was delivered with clean glasses. Nothing was said while the ashtray was emptied and the old glasses were cleared away. They both nodded to the waitress, and then glanced towards the jukebox as Bonnie Guitar began singing about the leaves of autumn.
“It’s like this”, Rev continued, with a fresh glass in hand and a new smoke going. “My friend has something coming to him. You know what I’m saying. Maybe there is some money due, or a favor due. The debtor may be slow in acknowledging the debt, or performing the favor. Sometimes a courtesy call from me gets things moving. Other times the circumstances can require a personal visit from me. I can provide some one-on-one counseling.” Rev scooted his chair, adjusted his tie and brushed anything that might be lingering off his left shoulder.
“In counseling, I emphasize my point as strongly as the situation requires. You know what I’m saying here. In retrospect most people seem to prefer just the phone call.” Rev attended to the silk handkerchief in the left breast pocket of his suit coat as he looked out the window of the Cobblestone Tavern, watching the traffic on Finland Road for a moment, and then stared back at his dining companion.
Spenn was smoothing the pocket on his only white shirt. He placed his beer glass on the table as he burped a small burp. “Yeah, well thanks for the clarification. Our friend in Detroit mentioned I should meet you here, said we should have lunch and get acquainted. Cold beer is always a good lunch. Are we acquainted enough to ask what you need?”
“Spenn, I need a Buick, and a navigator, you. You will assist me in a counseling session, if an assistant counselor is needed. Tomorrow, one o’clock, here. We’ll have a ham sandwich, drive into Flint and go to work. Wear your Sunday best, Spenn, and recognize the importance of being on time.”
dust boatman view thought