Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Encounter with a stranger

"Meet for coffee?"

That was the message from a stranger, from a man I knew only by reputation. By his writings. Insane screeds swimming in caustic humor, occasionally laced with sound advice. And hookers.

"Meet for coffee?"

Why did he contact me, of all people? Was it really about coffee? Or did he want something else? A place to hide? Money? My soul? If it was the later, he was too late. I’d already sold it. Many times over. Many times a day. I used to work in advertising.

“Meet for coffee?”

It was a question, but was it intended as a command?

“Meet. For. Coffee.”

I don’t even like coffee. But I couldn’t pass on a chance to meet the man behind the pseudonym. The man whose pseudonym has a pseudonym. Whose dog has a pseudonym.

I sent him coordinates. He sent me his ETA. I waited. For who knows what. For my ultimate fate? For shallow conversation filled with awkward silences and glances at watches? For the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a sure-fire pyramid scheme?

But rather than hiding my cash and assets, rather than loading my pistol, I waited. Calmly. Believing (unjustifiably, perhaps) that things would be okay. What would be would be. What would be would be material for the blog.

And then a plain white van pulled up and out stepped the mystery man. Vanholio! (With an exclamation mark. Always.) Blogger. Occasional novelist. Occasional campground host. And (I blush) an occasional fan of the Rolling Steel Tent.

We talked. We had tacos. (No coffee.) We talked some more. We laughed. No shady requests or offers. Just a nice guy.

“So, I’m always looking for blog material,” I said. “How would you feel about being written up?”

“Um, as long as I can stay hidden behind my layers of alternative personas,” replied Vanholio! “I want to keep fact and fiction properly separated, keep the mystery thing working.”

“I understand. I could do that. Working within constraints is more interesting anyway.”

However, it’s nice to have a picture in my posts, so, with his permission and supervision, I took a photo of his rig.