TKnC introduces another newcomer, Mike, AKA Mr Macrum...
George started showing up at the coffee shop about a year ago. One morning as I turned the lock to open, there he was. He had a tired looking messenger bag over his shoulder and a beat Red Sox cap on his head. I noticed the cap right off. "You're a brave man wearing that cap in this town bub."
George looked at me and grinned. "Yeah I guess so.....You got Internet hook up?"
And that's how I met George. Every week day from then until last week, he would show up at 5:30AM and park his butt at the same table facing up East Avenue. While I got his coffee and a Danish, he would rustle around elbow deep in his messenger bag and either pull out a laptop or the Daily News.
George wasn't much for conversation. His name and the fact he came from somewhere near Boston originally was about all we learned about him those first few weeks. Guess what they say about those New Englanders is true. They don't get friendly overnight.
Winnie, my wife and nosy waitress could not stand it. She just had to know everything about the regulars. George had been coming in long enough to not get the indifferent treatment walk-ins did.
One morning she's re-filling his coffee cup. George is paying her no mind. His fingers are busy on the keyboard of his laptop. She finishes filling his cup and stands there just looking over her glasses at him. Her intimidating presence finally breaks George's focus and he looks up at her.
"So George, what is it you do here in New York?" She then sits down in the seat across the table from him.
George straightens up, adjusts his glasses and says, "I'm a staff reporter over at the Journal."
Winnie leans in. “Been there long?”
“Well no. Just started a couple of months ago.”
“What does a staff reporter at the Journal do?”
George looks at Winnie. His face looks puzzled, like he’s not sure whether it’s any of her business.
I tune up. “Oh don’t mind her George. If she’s poking in your business, it means she likes you. Tell her to pound sand.”
Winnie shoots me the look. I smile and go back to stacking coffee cups. But Winnie stops the interrogation and gets up to continue her round of coffee refills.
Some minutes later, George gets up to leave. At the register he pays his bill. He turns to leave and stops. Turning back around, he says to Winnie, “A staff reporter writes the crap no one else wants to.” And he walks out the door. Winnie turns to me and sticks out her tongue.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. George became a fixture at the East Avenue Café. George’s background filled in through short conversations and casual remarks. A reporter for the Boston Globe, he came to New York after an ugly divorce.
Last week George sat at his usual table. I was sitting at the register watching New York go to work. A woman walked by and stopped in front of George’s table. She knocked on the window to catch George’s attention. They looked at each other through the glass. She hurried inside and sat down at his table. George left that morning very agitated. We never saw him again.
I read this morning they pulled George out of the East River. Garroted they said. Speculation was he had been tracked down and killed for a series of articles he wrote in the Globe about Mob activities in Rhode Island.
I tossed the paper over in front of Winnie. "I thought I told you not to make that call."
She looked at me and said, "We need a vacation. Now we can afford one."
Damn women. When they're right, they're right.
Based in Maine, Mike has a witty and entertaining blog called Lost in the BoZone