He wore a watch. He always needed to know the time, even though he never had any particular place to be.
If he for some reason had some place to go, he’s positive that he wouldn’t be late. Today, a glance at his watch made the fedora that rested lightly upon his head move from its habitual place. He reached his large, soft hands up and pushed it back into place with one of his long slender fingers. With his fedora in the proper place, he reached into the brown leather briefcase that he carried whenever he was out. The briefcase was a gift from his parents on his 18th birthday. For the past fifty years he never had a single important thing to put in it; though he might if he had something important to do. He had never held a job. His parents left him a large sum of money, more than he could ever fathom to spend. So instead he carried a tattered old notebook in the briefcase which he used as a journal to document the things around him. There was nothing special about it; just a plain, 70-page, college-ruled Mead notebook. It wasn’t the paper, he felt, that made writing special. He thought it came from the pen he used. Indeed, his pen was a work of art. Gold and obsidian worked together into a beautifully formed, perfectly balanced fountain pen. He told people that it was handcrafted in Italy at the turn of the century; only a hundred of them had ever been made. For all he was ever told, this might have been true. But in reality all of which he knew about the pen was that it came from his grandfather, left in a will, and it had been his grandfather’s for the entirety of his working career. Looking at the pen he saw aged gold, smudged with fingerprints and the obsidian worn dull in places from years of use. This particular pen could make any bit of writing special. Every day the man came to the same coffee shop on the same street in the same city. He felt it was more than his job to be here every day, he believed it to be his duty. On sunny days he would sit outside on the patio and sip his coffee, two creamers and two packets of sugar, all day. On days when the weather was not so fair he would sit inside next to the fireplace and drink a cup of tea with milk and a packet of sugar in it. Never did he take tea outside nor did he ever take coffee inside. Every day it was the same routine. He was at the door of the coffee shop fifteen minutes after its opening. He would get his beverage and take his seat in the appropriate place according to his drink. Once there he would pull out his notebook and the pen. Then the rest of the day was spent with him observing people as they walked by in and out of the coffee shop. He would write down which way each one was going and what it appeared to be that they were doing. He observed and wrote. He talked to the other customers of the coffee shop; each one had a story to tell. At first he tried to write down every word that was said, but he found this to be hard and rude. If the person talked to fast it made it hard, and it was rude when he was writing more than paying attention. It also affected his ability to respond because he only heard the words
and he didn’t digest them. Eventually he learned to write down key moments in the conversation, things that really stood out, only after he was done speaking with whoever it might have been. At home, he had many bookshelves filled with many notebooks filled from years of sitting at the same coffee shop. His friends suggested that the go through them and try to find the best stories or thoughts that would lead to a good story and put them together into a book. They would grab one off of a shelf and flip it open. They’d say, “What about this one? This sounds interesting.” He would then look at the passage they pointed to and read it, “A man comes upon a wristwatch sitting in the sand of a beach on a deserted island. How did the watch get there. This man thinks that the watch was always there.” He remembered that man. He wore a treed jacket and large glasses with thick plastic frames; and the man always seemed distracted as though he wasn’t fully there. All he wanted to discuss was philosophy. He had given an explanation as to why he thought the wristwatch was always there, but it has long since been forgotten. How could he write a story about that? No one would want to read a story about a philosopher with thick glasses through which he didn’t seem to see clearly. He never felt any of his stories were good enough for the world to read. How could the things that happen near his coffee shop interest anyone? He was a writer who would never be satisfied with his own work.