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In the Flesh

Thursday June 3, 2010

You see him in a café and decide to follow him. Two hours later, you’re sure—it has to be. It’s a character from one of your favorite books, in the flesh.

It was a  morning like so many others.  At least it started that way.  Laptop on the table and coffee by my side, deep breath in …… and then I heard that voice.  It wasn’t familiar, but it broke through my concentration.  Rung some forgotten bell in my mind.  Where did it come from?  Could it really be who I thought it was?  I had never even heard his voice.

The cafe was crowded and my table was wedged into the back corner.  Leaning and craning my neck was getting me nowhere.  I had no hope of matching the voice to a face from my vantage point.   Sliding my laptop into my bag, I eased out from the corner, walked towards the counter and there he was.  Red running shorts, sweaty grey t-shirt and a coffee to which he was adding lots of sugar.  Even without the voice, I was sure it was him.  There was simply no one else that it could be.  It was Garp in the flesh, ordering a post-run coffee at my cafe.

It wasn’t possible, but it seemed to be true.  In the  midst of a stall in my own writing, a character from a book I read fifteen years ago walked into a cafe in Oregon (where I was fairly certain he didn’t live) and ordered coffee.  As I was trying to find some thread of logic, Garp looked over his shoulder, smiled and walked out into the sunshine.

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