Golden: part 11

After a week of disappearing, Nick finally reappeared. Sam was able to reach him, and just as we had thought he was in California, but not in the way we were hoping. She girlfriend’s divorce was being finalized, but this only came up after a long and elaborate story about meeting with producers and the show being bought by a studio. Sam passed us word and a meeting was scheduled a few days later.
The Skype call was pointless. Nick was walking around a house with his iPad and kept losing signal and there were large patches of the conversation where we couldn’t hear him and wondered if the call was lost. We couldn’t hear the information we were being given and as far as we knew the job was almost done. We sat back and waited.
Nick said the meeting had been cancelled. He retreated back to Bellevue and the project continued. In the meantime he continued to pressure me to write the novels for him, the book versions of the show we were working on. It didn’t make any sense. The plot and the season weren’t even near completion and he wanted me to start writing a book that wouldn’t fit the end product of the show. After my last refusal Nick found someone else.
Two people were brought in around this time, a man who had worked in television doing commercials for different companies and a writer like myself. The director I was not familiar with and had never seen any of his material. He seemed to be a nice guy that knew what he was talking about and was very professional during our meetings. He also, to his credit, made it a point during the meetings to reduce time by cutting off Nick and focusing the conversation on the task at hand. Nick did not like this at first but the risk of losing someone who currently did work in television was too great. A few weeks later, with too many projects on the table, the director left and things started to unravel.
The writer was a retired gentleman who had written over 30 westerns on Amazon and was doing well for himself. Nick had never read any of his books but thought a western was a close fit with the show we were making. It wasn’t the writer that pissed me off in the end it was Nick trying to get rid of me.
“He has over 30 books Matt, how many have you written?”
“12.”
“How many did you say you have sold in a day?” Nick asked the new guy.
“Oh, I’ve seen a hundred sold in a day.”
Nick acting like this guy was Stephen King compared to me. I couldn’t compare myself to this guy and Nick shouldn’t have been either. He was retired, money coming in that he didn’t have to work for anymore and all the free time in the world to continue writing without the worry of bills being paid. And yet, Nick acted like I was a failure because I was not like this guy.
I couldn’t believe how agreeable this new guy was. He was excited to be brought into the project, he kind of reminded me of myself when I started. The real kick in the pants came when Nick assigned me to show the new guy where all the files were in the system with character profiles and the several versions of the plot that had never been finalized. Everything was up in the air and waiting for Nick’s approval until he had some moment of genius on the toilet changing everything again.
“This isn’t the time to start working on a book.”
“This is exactly the time.” Nick argued. “I want to have this out when the show it about the air.” Even if the show had been bought weeks ago the soonest it could have aired would have been a year and most shows are shelved indefinitely for years until they are forgotten about. Nick couldn’t publish a book because the studio would have bought those rights as well. He had no idea what the fuck he was talking about or doing. The meetings had gone back to Nick’s rants about AA and his capitalist ambitions. My own book sales had dwindled and I wasn’t close to having anything new in print.
I never showed the new guy where the files were. Sam was in charge of organizing the information and he lived with Nick. The only purpose of Nick doing this was to rub it in my face that I had turned it down and I am still glad to this day that I had.
I sent an email the next day that I was done, going back to writing on Amazon, I would no longer be working on the show. For once Nick was humble in his response. An email was sent to the rest of the group, remember I was being carbon copied for all emails, wishing me the best. After that everything went downhill.
For over a year I was still getting emails about the project, meetings, and possible investors. Pictures of Nick with middle eastern men and white guys with gold chains hanging just above their hairy bellies started to appear in my email. Then silence.
Sam contacted me a year after I had left the show. Nick had disappeared again and wasn’t returning emails or phone calls. Todd was still working on the script but without the leader there was nothing they could do. Sam tried to bring me back into the project to have Nick’s attention and finally finish things. The night we were supposed to Skype and play catch up I became violently ill and canceled less than an hour before the meeting. It was never rescheduled and a week later there were emails about Todd leaving the show.
“If that guy thinks he doesn’t need our money while he’s driving Uber to pay bills he’s mistaken.” Nick wrote in an email. “I understand that things are tough but he’s not worth what he’s asking. Low ball him, he’ll fold and take what he’s offered. He’s desperate.”
To Todd’s credit he didn’t fold. He made his offer to what it would cost to stay on the show and when they didn’t agree he left. Todd was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and that was his downside as well. Things might have been changing for him. As someone who would always agree to what was being offered being in a financial hotspot was making his spine grow and I knew that he had learned something while working on this project.
There was a long list of insults and complaints once Todd left. The shit talking had reached epic proportions. Suddenly Todd was the worst human being on the planet and wasn’t worth the work he had put in. Nick was convinced they would find somebody else and they would be a real professional this time, but it never happened. That was the end of the show. Emails continued, mostly sending questions about the cable bill to Sam. The show was never mentioned again and soon the emails stopped as well. Either Nick was no longer using his email or he stopped linking me and everyone else to his account.
The show was never bought, it was never completed, and while I had worked on it for years, I have to admit it was something that I never would have chosen to watch if it was on television. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. When you smell bullshit run away. Know what your time is worth. Do not work with people who can not focus on the task at hand. If you find yourself feeding someone else’s ego run away. Don’t work for someone who knows less than you.
Nick’s advice for life would boil down to one thing, marry rich. Out of all of his stories, comments about his hot daughter, the gaining and losing of money over the years, the one thing he always went back to was not marrying the rich Jewish girl. Nick had a habit of directing his attention to anything other than what he should be working on. I could only imagine what that would have been like if you added your dick as a wingman to the situation. These days you can find Nick on a cruise ship or in southern California. The show is a forgotten relic, Walden has been abandoned, my writing career is still recovering. Nick had dreams of being a Vegas star at one time, memorizing the American song book and recording his own album, and while he gave the appearance of being a man of the world it became obvious to those who knew him, he was more like Dolemite than Sinatra. A human tornado came to down, upended my life, filled my head with promises and fantasies of greatness, and in the end left with little to show for it.
In the end all I got was this blog post and a flannel shirt.

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Golden: part 8

The last day in Seattle started out like all of the others. This morning a jazz band was playing in the corner of the deli and when they asked for requested, I suggested something from Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis classic. Without a horn in the group the electric guitar took over the role and played the piece for ten minutes. I was impressed and the head of the band told me that the guitarist had really improved over the past ten years. Nick added afterwards that he had recorded some of the American song book with this group but others in the band were not up to his standards for the job.
We sat at the counter with the picture window overlooking the street and patio. Nick read one of the local papers and discussed how the governor of Washington state was meeting with President Xi of China. Some people were suggesting that the Governor might run for president but I knew that role was already going to Hillary. I knew nothing about local politics and sat silent eating my meal listening to the conversations around me.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched a woman walk into the deli. I had been repeatedly told about the beautiful exotic Asian women living in Seattle but after a week of staying there and seeing little of Seattle I took the information to be a local myth I should disregard. I few women I did meet were just like the college students I saw in my own town with three universities. Young naive and consumed by pointless over charged educations, with a thirst for consumerism, the women I saw in Seattle were clones of this model, until this day.
The woman who walked in was very different from anything I had seen at home or abroad. Wearing a blue sundress, her hair was pulled back into a pony tail as she stood in line only a few feet away. Dark red lipstick emphasized her smile and when the owner of the shop walked up to say hello her eyes squinted as she smiled. She knew the owner and continued her conversation as I sat silently watching from afar hoping she wouldn’t notice me. The sundress did little to hide her curvaceous body and I fought to remember the details of this rare beauty. Thick calf muscles teased there way into view between the brown boots and the skirt. Thick thighs blended into wide hips and a healthy attractive midsection. Completing her curvaceous figure were her full breasts. These details I was fortunate to remember and looking away from her simple and classical face of beauty was a task upon itself. Big brown eyes and thick red lips filled her oval face gave her a constant expression of kindness that wasn’t faked or forced like so many I had met before. The girl at the airport bar in Salt Lake City came to mind.
The woman was called to order her coffee and just as fast as she appeared, she was gone. So, the mythical women of Seattle are actually real and just like any unicorn, snipe, or bigfoot you have to enjoy them for the few seconds they are there before they are gone.
I asked Nick bout the girl afterwards hoping to have a name to go with the face. He had never seen her before but by his recollection she might work for one of the local advertising agencies in Bellevue. Flying back to Kalamazoo later that night there was no point in pushing the issue.
Nick had this strange idea that I needed an iPad. He had a second device that he wanted to give me and that was our mission for the day. The second iPad belonged to his girlfriend Jan who came to own it from buying a new Cadillac. She used it once, set the pin number and after two years of sitting in the closet she forgot what the number was. Nick drove to the local mall where there was an Apple store.
The mall was no different from any other except for the Tesla car store in the middle. Nick was fascinated by these cars and thought these must be a rare breed in the land of Detroit muscle. The car by itself was odd, no motor, exhaust, gas tank, transmission, or cooling system. Everything was touch controlled and the car talked to you. I thought of Nightrider.
At the Apple store we spent an hour arguing with an employee about the resetting of the iPad.
“Unless you have the code, we can’t help you.”
“But we don’t know the code because it’s forgotten. Are you telling me that I own an iPad that I can’t have fixed if I forget the code?”
“do you have the receipt?”
“it belongs to my girlfriend and she got it from buying a new car.”
“Well unless you have the receipt, I can’t help you.”
“I want to talk to somebody else.”
This went on for more than an hour and this was how I spent the last day in Seattle, sitting in a mall surrounded by stores I don’t go to and people I don’t like. I could be doing this at home.
We left the mall with Nick promising that he would have the iPad unlocked and mail it to me. I didn’t want the iPad. I didn’t have WIFI. I didn’t and still don’t like Apple products. The iPad, even when it did become mine would become a useless pile of crap taking up space with little or no use to me. Nick never listened to me.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. Once you have it, you’ll like it.”
Back at Walden I packed my bags and carried everything upstairs to wait by the door. I had been awake for almost 24 hours at that time and it was another 12 hours home, flying overnight to Minneapolis and then to Chicago after a three-hour layover. I was hoping to sleep on the plane but knew that would be near to impossible.
When went to a local Hooters in Seattle close to the airport. The three of us sat at a table ordering beer. I didn’t want any food, my stomach felt like it was filled with rocks and the discomfort was getting to me. A cute little Latina waitress was serving us. Her hair was cute to her shoulders with bangs, her skin glowed and she was polite even when others were not. She was fit and you could tell that she went to the gym regularly. Sam flirted with her and she said things like “that sweet” or “you don’t say.” These are the “I’m not interested, please stop being creepy” clues. Nick talked about asking her to be in a demo video for the show and Sam suggested they get business cards as producer or executive producer for getting laid in the future. The slapped each other on the back for the great idea and grew excited at all the pussy in their foreseeable future. These were not the kind of guys I would hang out with in any other circumstance. I kept looking at the time and suggested that we go to the airport.
Once I was dropped off, I made my way to the loading area and waited. There were little shops and I bought a rechargeable battery for my phone so that I could use it while flying back. Only problem was that you had to pay to use the WIFI on the plane. They didn’t even supply free WIFI.
I unwrapped a movie I had bought in town, Under the Red Hood, an animated Batman movie and popped it into my laptop. Myself and the two people next to me watched the movie with subtitles while the rest of the plane pretended to sleep.
On the top of the mountains below us were flashing lights that didn’t appear as far away as I would have liked. Small towns were glowing petri dishes in the dark. The lights condensed to the main street and gradually spreading out from the center.
Minneapolis was a great non-event. I recall nothing. I was now at 30 hours without sleep. The 1.5-hour flight to Chicago took five hours with you include the layover and waiting on the tarmac forever.
In Chicago, there was the wait for my luggage, again forced to be checked in at no extra cost. I took the shuttle to the garage where my car was still parked in the same spot, I left it. Leaving the garage, I set my phone for directions to Kalamazoo. It didn’t matter where I went the phone kept telling me to make a U-turn. Frustrated I tossed the phone in the back seat. I jumped on the highway and drove as far and as fast as I could. I lost an hour in town from a stupid app and now the trip back to my hometown was taking me three hours. Then there was the traffic backup.
Some idiot had jackknifed a truck and the traffic was at a standstill. Many people were jumping off the highway to take side streets around the accident. The side streets were their own traffic jam. I stayed on the highway and looked at the morons who were twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out how to move the truck.
I put the audiobook on and tried not to fall asleep at the wheel. Clear blue skies and a bright sun kept me awake while squinting the whole time.
I drove up to my house. Pulled into the driveway. Left everything in the car. Went upstairs and climbed into bed. I had just hit 48 hours of being awake and no it was time to crash. I wouldn’t wake up until the next morning. 14 ours of sleep was just what I needed.

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Golden: part 6

The show was moving along ahead of schedule. We had the first season mapped out. Nick was creating new characters and we looked at adding them in season two. Profiles were being created and maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought they were.
The daytime was reserved for Nick’s normal routine and going on adventures on an itinerary that only Nick knew. I had no idea what I would see on those days, we would leave Walden and cruise around town. When I brought up Bruce Lee’s grave Nick would say that Sam would take me and he would make sure it would happen. When I brought it up to Sam, he had a look of surprise and wonder revealing that he had never been talked to about it.
The Salmon fish hatchery was an interesting place, not exactly on the top of my list of places I would have seen while in Seattle, a place I would likely never see again. There were bridges and streams running through the park. In the center was a large box shaped contraption with windows on the side where you could watch salmon who had been trapped to spawn their eggs and die, trapping their future young for release into the wild keeping the species going for another year. A ramp went around the box leading to the center tank. Walking around the Salmon treadmill you could see fish jumping to the next level thinking they were going up stream to their final destination. In the end they fell into a tank of water with nowhere to go, the ultimate Secretary of State office where you waited to die and they took your first to last born.
In the shallow streams you could see the fungus that had been decimating the salmon population on their fins and backs. These fish were kept away from the rest and for good reason. The surrounding mountains reminded me of Tennessee with houses speckling the slopes hidden behind trees. Instead of the rounded tops the points were jagged and bear from trees and green foliage. There was an Indian reservation that I didn’t know about near the salmon hatchery. We went down winding roads, through narrow passageways and found a shop in the middle of nowhere. On the racks outside there was a sale for flannel insulated shirts with shiny snap on buttons that I had not seen since the 1980s. I picked one out and Nick bought it as a gift for me. The inside was a glorified tractor supply store complete with most items a farmer would need throughout the year.
On the way back to Bellevue, Nick continued to ask me if there was anything I wanted to see, we had time to kill and all I had to do was ask. I mentioned Bruce Lee’s grave and was met with resistance. I took my phone out and looked up local tourist attractions in the area. Jimi Hendrix grave came up. Only a few miles away and located between our current location and Bellevue we made a few turns and drove into the cemetery to find a large domed stone structure with images of Jimi etched into the marble surface. I had no idea Hendrix was buried here.
In the center was the small tomb holding Jimi’s ashes. Notes and flowers were still left for him and I went through his catalog of music in my mind. Nick had never heard of him, never listened to the music, the self-proclaimed social justice advocate was not familiar with one of the foundations of hippie culture rock.
Nick had moved away from the states in the late sixties, tired of the war and wanting to live in a society that wasn’t as blatantly corrupt he moved himself and his wife to Norway. The picture he showed me was of a young man in a boat with a smile of hope for the future. The etched brow and chiseled square jaw line never changed over the years. His hair was still thick but in the black and white photo it was much darker than it was now. I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish by running away, swearing to never step foot in the states again. He started a textile company, had a feud with Gloria Steinem, lost the company to investors after years of running the company and was back at stage one. This appeared to be a pattern in Nick’s life, gaining and losing fortunes over the years, never being able to hold on to something that he had created. Once his goal was achieved it almost appeared that a self-destructive nature would take over, inspiring to start over and go through the process again no knowing how to maintain the life that he had created. In some ways I felt sorry for Nick, always the lost boy in the boat looking for adventure but never able to let go of the boat and settle down in a place and live the rest of his life in peace.
I told Nick about Hendrix life, dying at 27, only working in the states for three years before dying of an overdose. Hendrix served in the army, went airborne, and supported the troops during a time that it was frowned upon. Nick appeared to show some interest and after a few photos we left and drove back to Walden to prepare for that nights meeting of the minds.
At this point we were shuffling around scenes from the season, creating new post it notes and placing them on the board to figure out what events would change afterwards. The cast of characters were growing and with each new addition the plot would shift. The grand finale of the show was set in stone, a Game of Thrones style mass extinction event to wipe the plate clean for season two. Things were coming together and to move ahead I started asking if these changes were set in stone, something we could forget about to move ahead in the project. I received a yes, several times and a day or two later it was changed to something “better” that wasn’t presented to the group. “we are doing this instead. Start over.” The changes would bounce around from the middle of the season to the opening scene in the pilot. The pilot was what drove me nuts the most, an episode that would rewrite the whole season depending on the changes that were made.
At one point I created a new female character, a strong-willed woman who could take care of herself and was tough as nails. There were two brothers on the show and she was a completing love interest, nothing new for tv and something that always worked. While I had her as a leading role, moving along in her own story and popping in when the time was right for other characters, Nick had other ideas.
We were going back and forth on the script, changing scenes and dialogue to fit the new layout of the episode. My new character was introduced filling a role that had been left out for some interactions and quickly putting her in as an important player in the show. Nick wrote his own version where she was quick to go to bed with one of the brothers as a way to pay her way out of a tough spot. I didn’t know we were making this show for the porn industry. I read the script in horror wondering what the hell Nick was thinking. That night I brought up the script and Nick had a look of excitement on his face to hear how great it was. I said everything to disappoint him. There was no build up, nothing that lead the audience to anticipate the moment, it was thrown out there as a fleeting act with my character turning into a cheap whore. In retaliation, the next day I sent a new script to Nick in the morning, Nick spent five minutes reading the 60-page document and came out of his bedroom belittling my dialogue, the way I described the opening scene, the poor use of characters, and the list went on and on. I pointed out the time that he took to read it with no way that he could have seen all that in five minutes.
“Your dialogue is horrible” he said. “I’m hiring a professional script writer.”
“I didn’t change the dialogue,” I pointed out. “It was all the lines you wrote in the original version. All I changed was the scene description and what the characters were doing.”
Flustered he tried to come back with something of substance. “I, well, no it wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. We clearly need someone else to work on the script.”
There was tension in the air the rest of that day. Breakfast at Gilbert’s was quiet. Nick didn’t say much about plans for the day. There was a rift taking place and while we were days ahead of schedule it was obvious that the project had problems. There was a strange desire for perfection on his list of priorities for the show, he couldn’t face the fact that nothing was perfect, there was only the best that you could do and you had to accept that. I had to come to grips that nothing would satisfy this man and to continue working on this project would ultimately be a dead end with a few paychecks along the way and a lot of grief. I didn’t see it then, too focused on the disagreement itself and hoping to smooth things over while saving the show. I had to get into Nick’s head, an open book with pages he wrote himself for how he wanted people to see him. You had to learn to read between the lines and be skeptical of anything you read. The best way to get in his good graces was to feed his hungry ego and make sure he thought he was the center of your world. I would have to kiss ass.

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Golden: part 5

The first evening started when Sam arrived at Walden after work. Sam had a dark complexion, jet black hair, and big brown eyes. He was on the chubby side and was enjoying civilian life after a stint in the armed forces either in the Army or Marines, I don’t remember which. He was a busy guy working several part time jobs, starting his own company, and also working on Nick’s television project. I was in the downstairs recreation room setting up for the meeting of the minds when Sam and Nick started talking in the hallway.
“This guy,” Nick said. “he thought I owned the park. It’s hilarious. I have him wrapped around my finger. He doesn’t know.” Sam snickered at my ignorance. “Let’s get this started I have a feeling we are going to get a ton of stuff done tonight.”
Should I have thought any differently about the situation? I was given the impression that Nick was well to do, the house was his, the land around it was part of the property. Had I really read into things so wrong?
I tried to brush the comments aside. I was stuck here. There was no option to go home. I had to ride it out until my flight in five days. We went over the first draft script for the pilot episode. There wasn’t a layout for the first season. Character profiles had not been written up. Other parts of the world we were creating had not been written out, just general descriptions that left a lot of interpretation. The only thing that had been thought out was the opening scene and even that we went back and forth on with constant changes and Nick, always a day later, deciding that what was set in stone was not good enough and we were starting over. This was a running problem with the show. We would have our starting point and then after hours of work the pilot would be scrapped and we were back at square one.
The initial script, written by Nick, was rough. There was some good dialogue, the relationships between certain characters were being established and it looked like changes could be made with the rewriting of different scenes without changing some of the other aspects of the script.
That first night went late, with an audio recorder documenting the whole thing. We decided how many episodes there should be, the length of each show, and knew there should be a grand finale leading up to season two. Nick and Sam went to be and I prepared for the morning ahead.
I woke up early, likely still feeling jet lag and my internal clock being four hours ahead. With my old job I would go to work at 7am and I was still on that clock. Nick and Sam slept while I jumped in the shower. For five minutes I adjusted the temperature and the water never turned hot. It was ice cold and I jumped in wanting to clean up for the first time since my flight. I scrubbed down and jumped out after a few minutes shivering and wanting to warm up as soon as possible.
Upstairs I made coffee and drank half the pot while running around the recreation room with post it notes naming episodes and looking over notes from the night before. I had a list of characters on the left-hand side and ran the episode titles across the top. The middle section was the events that would take place. There were details about the show that I had to ignore. Some of the characters had biblical names that nobody, especially a good Christian, would ever name their kid. It would be like a German naming their child Adolf after WWII or trying to wear a small mustache with greased over hair. The symbolism was fine but the names were not needed to portray it. Once I had the first season laid out, I sat down with my laptop and worked on the script.
I rewrote the opening scene, something that had some confusing elements to it and played around with the interactions of certain characters. I added a love interest that I would later write a profile for. There were other things that I added and subtracted and for some reason there was this idea that was supposed to be overlooking all of it about something that happened a hundred years before. Tying everything together wasn’t easy and in the end it never worked.
When Nick woke up, it was almost noon, he woke in to find the season laid out, a script sent to his email and half a pot of coffee upstairs. He didn’t say much and we left for breakfast at Gilbert’s on Main St.
The morning routine consisted of Nick reading that day’s newspaper, playing on his iPad and parking his car in a no parking zone in front of the deli. It had been dropped off that morning and supposedly fixed. We ate outside on the patio and watched the six figure cars drive by.
“This show works out, and it will, I have the utmost confidence that everyone will be interested in this, you will be driving one of those in a few years. When this is picked up, I’m going to make sure you are one of the writers. How does that sound?”
“That sounds nice,” I replied. I had already done my homework. I knew that when companies bought projects like this it was all or nothing. They would do with the script and characters as they please, they brought in their own writers, and in the end the person who created had little or no say in the project itself. I didn’t tell Nick that I knew this.
As we went to leave there was a puddle under the car and Nick spotted it right away. I crawled on my hands and knees and touched the oily liquid, the red tinted smudge on my hands told me again what it was.
“Your transmission is leaking,” I said seeing a look of fury on his face.
“that fucking cocksucker! He told me this was fixed. I’m going to ream that son of a bitch. I want this shit fixed today.” People looked around as the flurry of words escaped his mouth. We hopped in the car and drove back to Walden to wait for the car to be picked up again.
“If there is anything you want to see you can take the mountain bike.” Nick was being the optimist, I think. We were miles away from anything and Seattle was a ride over a bridge. I hung out at the house and worked on the project. I should have been working on my next book but decided it was best to keep those projects completely separate. I worked on the character profiles and we would have much to talk about that coming night. This was day two in Bellevue and we were already ahead of schedule. Little did I know that everything would change in the near future.
I roamed out in the woods by myself, traveling the trail and finding deer tracks and other signs of life in the middle of town. My phone had been sending me notifications all day about pushed likes on Tinder because I forgot to turn off the app while out of town. Apparently, I was a hot commodity on the West Coast. The only good thing about it was knowing that if things in Kalamazoo continued to go downhill, I had the option of starting over somewhere else where women actually wanted to meet me. This was a complete change of pace from the back and forth messaging with the sudden disappearance of the people I was talking to and never having a date from the app. Everyone had on their profiles that they weren’t looking to “hook up” and that included me, but when it came to meeting people, they fled like they had gone into witness protection. Seattle appeared to be the exact opposite.
While driving through town I never saw the hot Asian women that Sam had been talking about. Everyone looked the same. Thin, long straight hair with the same cut, t-shirts and jeans, it was like they were being mass produced in a factory. If that was what Sam was into then he was in heaven. I saw this kind of thing everyday in a college town and I had no interest in hearing about where to get the perfect latte, how long they have been a vegetarian, or what social justice groups they were a part of. Everyone dressed to impress, flashing their name brand clothes and having their hair styled every couple of days even if it was to make it appear messed up, but professionally messed up. Even the local Goodwill had outrageous prices for the simplest of things and people ran around trying not to be seen or noticed as they shopped and tried to find those rare name brand clothes with the tags still on. It wasn’t about getting the deal it was about finding something for a fraction of the cost and still being able to say you bought it at the mall. If you are not rich, try to look rich. In other words, fake it until you make it.
It was becoming obvious that that was Nick’s philosophy. There were many things about him that I was led to believe were true. He was a successful businessman, and at one time that was true. He didn’t own the house we were staying in, instead he managed the property for an investor from China who bought it for the rent money. The car, while it appeared to be a future classic, had the usual problems of any lemon. The world of Seattle was something that Nick and many others could hide in. Hustling their way along until they had that much sought-after break and could cash in for a little while until it was time to score again. Seattle was a city of junkies waiting for that next fix of cold hard cash. I hoped that after leaving here I wouldn’t have to go to rehab.

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Golden: part 4

Every morning started out the same, I would awake early having not adjusted to the new time schedule, make coffee and wait for Nick to wake up. For a man in his late sixties, he was always on the go and busy trying to make some deal happen. Breakfast was always at Gilbert’s on Main in downtown Bellevue. Nick and the owner had a history, a story I never heard. The owner was a raging alcoholic who would down a pint of Vodka in a day and couldn’t function in society. Now sober, he owned Gilbert’s, a deli with fresh bread and breakfast meals served inside or on the sidewalk patio. People lined up behind us as we stood in line waiting to see what the specials of the day were.
Ferraris and Lamborghini drove up and down the street with their loud exhaust, older men trying to attract younger women. You could smell the ocean in the air and if you were on the right street one could see the water in the distance. Gilbert’s reminded me of a few delis from my home town, with murals on the wall and young girls working behind the counter. In the back, near the restrooms, there was a wall lined with posters advertising events that would be coming up in the area. On the wall was a shelf of books and one of them stood out. I had never seen a hard cover copy of Kitchen Confidential Even though the book was a best seller on the NY times list it quickly went to soft cover and has continued to sell since. I pulled the book out and discovered it was a first edition. I couldn’t find a price on it and took it back to the table.
“what did you find?” Nick asked as I flipped through the book.
“A first edition of Kitchen Confidential was sitting on the shelf. I have never seen one before.”
Nick waved his friend over. The man looked at us through his glasses that made him look like the mole from A Wind in the Willows. Ni ck asked how much the book was. “Ahhh, it’s free. Keep it. I find stuff and put it over there for the customers to read. They take them home half the time. That’s the point.”
“Are you sure? I have cash.” I said ready to pull out my wallet.
“Nick doesn’t pay here. I tell him that all the time and he still tries to pay regardless. Take the book.” The man turned around and disappeared talking to other customers.
For breakfast I order the Smoked Salmon Scramble and it might have been one of the best breakfast meals I ever had. Fluffy eggs mixed with cream cheese and thin slices of salmon on top was complimented with grilled potatoes. The portions were huge, something you would serve the mountain on Game of Thrones.
After breakfast, we went around town for my supplies stopping at a local market. I picked out shampoo, soap, tooth brush and paste, coffee, post it notes and pens would be needed. Nick purchased the items and we went back to Walden.
“I have a history with Michigan,” Nick said as we drove down the highway. “I was seeing this Jewish girl, her family had more money than you could have imagined. We were supposed to get married and then I met this girl from Michigan. Ever been to Warren?” I shook my head knowing I had never intentionally visited there. “well, I don’t know what you guys are doing up there but I threw away a life time of security to be with her. She was amazing. You should have seen her.” His eyes drifted off longing for the pleasures of long ago. “but if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have my daughter. She is absolutely beautiful. Have I told you about my daughter?”
“No.” she had never come up before.
“I’ll show you a picture when we get back. She is gorgeous, takes after her mother. She moved out to New York and with in the first month she was on a billboard in Manhattan. I tell you she’s going places. Has a few jobs lined up. Maybe you’ll meet her one day.”
Nick only talked about his daughter. I learned over a year later that he had a son from a different marriage but he never talked about him. It was obvious who his favorite was.
His car was starting to act up. Once we pulled into the driveway, I took a look, being the amateur backyard mechanic that I am, and found a puddle under the motor. The red fluid on the ground said it all. “Your transmission has a leak,” I said showing him the pink tint on my finger.
“That son of a bitch. I’ve already had it in. they were supposed to fix that. He’s picking this up and fixing it today. I’m tired of this shit.” This was the first time I had seen Nick lose his temper. It wouldn’t be the last.
Inside Nick had called the garage and the guy was coming out to get the car. We would be driving in Sam’s car for the rest of the day if we went out. That day we didn’t. staying in and getting things ready for that night.
Behind the cabin was a small shack. “I picture that as Walden. I want to clean it out and turning it into a writing retreat. I want the whole cabin to be a retreat for writers like yourself. If you come out here, you’ll have a place to stay with like minded people.” Nick was being honest about his intentions.
I went back and forth about moving never truly thinking about it being a possibility. I had a house with an upside-down mortgage thanks to the 2008 financial crisis. There was all of my stuff and of course finding a job if I did. The $300 a month Nick was paying wasn’t going to cover my bills.
The shack was tiny and I could see there being a small desk and a typewriter inside. It would be something I would inspire to.
Nick took me on a hike that day. We went down the street and found the entrance to the trail. A tiny stream went through, something that flooded when it rained. He said that sometimes lost salmon would find their way up the pitiful stream. Seattle had been experiencing a drought for over a year and wild fires had even become an issue. I remembered reading about the fungus that was killing large numbers of salmon because of the high heat and the lack of water. This was the sixty acres of land that the cabin was built on, a public park.
We found large dead tree trunks from pine trees larger than anything I had seen in Michigan. The bridges appeared new and the trail was kept clean. You could tell that the area was taken care of by either the city or the locals. We emerged from the other side of the trail and Nick said it was the first time he had ever gone the whole way. I find that it is the people who are surrounded by great things who never appreciate them.
Back at Walden I made a pot of coffee, cracked open one of the 20oz beers and started my laptop. It was going to be a long night.

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