Time passed. Winter turned to spring.
The climate became insidiously hot one morning and I awoke in a pool of sweat. Fan didn’t work - spins, but had little effect with the heat. I prepared a cup of joe. Clicked on the laptop and spent the day pounding out more prose on another damned manuscript I was certain no one would ever read.
As the sun boiled below the horizon there was a knock at my door. I was pleasantly surprised to find Oscar standing there. I invited him in and we shook hands.
“You hungry?” I asked.
He smiled, “Always.”
“I was about to make steak burritos. Want one?” I thumbed towards the old stove.
I prepared our meal and we sat at the wobbly, metal table in the kitchen. Oscar looked about the room in silence. I did have to admit, though he visited regularly, we knew relatively little about one another.
I decided to make small talk, “Did I ever tell you the time I chauffeured Shelley Winters…”
“Who’s Shelley Winters?”
“An old actress. She’s dead. It doesn’t matter.” I grinned.
“No,” He pleaded. “Go on with your story. I want to hear it.”
“At one time, back when I lived in Los Angeles, California, I used to do volunteer work at the Teen Canteen on Hollywood Boulevard. It was a shelter of such for homeless and teenage runaways. Anyway, once a week, Shelly Winters used to give free acting classes to the kids. By this time, she was going blind and constantly complained about driving around. So, I offered to do her errands for her and take her anywhere she wanted to go in Hollywood. No charge. I was studying film at college, so I got the idea to use Winters to my advantage and attempt to make contacts in the film industry.”
“Did it work?” Oscar asked as he chewed.
“Not really.” I continued. “The ordeal lasted a week. I tell you, she was a demanding and cheap woman. One day we were cruising down Sunset Strip and she asks, ‘Hey, ya hungry? Let’s stop off in Musso and Frank’s for a salad.’ So, we go to the restaurant – and, I’m telling you, Oscar, Musso and Frank’s was the place in its heyday to be seen. When we get there, she orders one salad between the two of us. One. And, she didn’t even bother tipping the waiter.”
I glanced at Oscar to register the weight of my words or if at least he understood. The look on his face explained it all. Confusion and boredom. We sat in awkward silence for a few moments as we ate our burritos.