Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby did a bad bad thing

So the other night I went to a lovely reading over at Brookline Booksmith and then I stole something.

The night started out innocently enough. A neighbor asked if I wanted to hear a few women read from the 2011 Best Women's Travel Writing and have dinner afterwards. Faced with the prospect of a full week alone with the kids? Yes, yes I did. I would have said yes to a trip to Walgreens to drink generic soda and browse the greeting cards.

The reading exceeded expectations. The women have had some amazing adventures (including one woman's experience judging a testicle eating contest and another returning to a hotel room in cold war Russia to find the maid wearing her leather skirt) and the writing was top notch. After, we browsed Brookline Booksmith, one of my favorite indie bookstores. Don't worry, I didn't steal anything from them.

It was one of those wonderful Boston summer nights where the rain was blowing sideways and the temp dropped to something close to freezing. Spicy food was in order, so we headed to dinner at an Indian restaurant nearby. After the meal, we split the checks three ways. The waiter brought my card back to sign and I picked up the pen.

The pen was weighty, nice to hold, and a beautiful blue color. Cerulean blue with gold trim. It said First National Bank of Arkansas. I started to sweat a little. I flipped it over and a name was inscribed on the other side. John Byron Huffman.

"I really want this pen," I said to my friend.

She examined it, encouraged me to take it. We checked out the other pens. Generic Massachusetts insurance company and something else, I forget. My pen had some history. My pen belonged a character in one of my stories. My pen was the precious.

My other friend had the idea to make a trade. I pulled a crappy plastic pen from my purse, stuck it in the check. Slipped the precious under a napkin. My mind raced along. The pen had obviously been given for a promotion or some recognition. Who was this guy? Did his friends call him J.B.? How had this pen ended up in Boston?

But, I felt guilt. Tremendous and horrible guilt. It was a nice pen. It didn't belong to the Indian waiter or even the restaurant itself, obviously, but still I felt - shady. Maybe I could tell them some story? About my father, my dead father, who worked for First National Bank of Arkansas. But then, no. My Dad is in a nursing home, not doing well. Can't go there. I could just ask for the pen. But then, how exactly?

I slipped it in my purse. More guilt. After the waiter gathered our checks, I noticed a flurry of activity near the register. Agitation. One waiter slapped the little book holding the checks on his palm. The three men hovered outside the kitchen. Arms folded. Clearly annoyed. They knew.

Or did they? Maybe someone else had stiffed a tip. My friend started showing us pictures of her New York trip. I wanted to leave. She showed us more pictures. The men glared at me over her shoulder. The pen seared a hole in my purse, or it didn't, but I felt like it would burst into flames. Or something.

Finally, time to leave. We get up. I pick up my bag. Nothing happens. Go to the small lobby. Nothing. Retrieve my umbrella from the holder. Nothing. Step outside.

I stole that pen. But then, it was the pen they hand you to sign the bill. It can't be a big deal. And it said First National Bank of Arkansas. Did I mention how blue it was? How J.B. is now a character in my linked series (the banker who forecloses on my main character)? I stole the pen because I write, I'm a writer. It tweaked my imagination. And I'm from the south. And Arkansas? Arkansas is always quirky.

I stole the pen because I'm a little crazy.

And yet it feels like a good luck charm, this stolen thing.

I'd post a picture of it, but I can't find the camera, and then, you know, J.B. might track me down. And the pen is mine. Really not a biggie.



Anonymous said...

This is hysterical.
You a real writer now baby!

kathynboys said...

Maybe someone stole your camera. LOL Just kidding...not funny. :)