Chapter 7:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 193

Ambrose Woodwork crushed out the remains of his Treasurer on the sidewalk right before opening the door to Castiglione’s, the pub that he had been speaking to Todd Rundgren about as they had left the place in central park where Woodwork had gotten himself drawn. As the two made their way into the establishment, Woodwork motioned to a waitress whom at the moment seemed to be busy with another table. She moved away from the table of customers that she had been talking to and towards Mr. Woodwork and Todd without much as much as a moment of pause. “Mr. Woodwork!”
she exclaimed with a smile fake enough to sell potato chips on a Super Bowl commercial,
“How nice of you to come this evening! Would you like your regular table?” Woodwork nodded and motioned Todd to walk with him through the pub/restaurant and out into the back. In the back of the establishment there was a dimly lit room with half-mirrored walls and hanging lights. When Todd walked into it he thought of scenes he had seen on a special the history channel had had depicting the lifestyles of those residing in castles in medieval Europe. There was a door at the end of the room however, and apparently it led out onto some kind of deck or outer-eating area. Woodwork turned to Todd, “Well, what do you think, Buddha? You want to eat inside or out?” Without hesitation, Todd responded “out.” The whole ambience of The Sopranos meets medieval Europe, was too much for him to insist when he was given a choice, to eat in such a dismal place. While he didn’ t even know if it was light out side still, he knew that it would be better than sitting in an eerie room of mirrors. 
So the two passed through the eerily mirrored room and made their way to the outdoor sitting area, sort of a patio that looked out into the forced garden that was surrounded by other Upper West Side buildings. It was an odd layout, Todd thought, because they had gone in on the main level, having not climbed stairs or gone up in an elevator, but now, having walked through the establishment, he looked down a few floors, a direct drop into the garden. The two sat down at the table that the waitress led them to. Todd remembered her just a moment ago asking if Mr. Woodwork had wanted to sit at his regular table, however, he then was asked by Woodwork himself on the way to the patio seating, whether or not he wanted to sit inside or out. The whole walk seemed a bit strange as the waitress hadn’t missed a beat. It was as if the whole thing had been pre-ordained, for lack of a better term. After they had sat down, Woodwork commented on the patio and the garden. “This is my favorite place to sit when I come here---favorite place outside, of course. If it is pouring out then I insist on sitting in the Soprano room in there. I’m certain you felt the likeness, that eerie ambience in there. It is uncanny the way in which some of the places in this town echo their television counterparts, almost as if they don’t wait to build until the show hits the tube.” “Either that or they change their place afterwards,” Todd chimed in. “Yeah, that is even worse, Buddha, if that kind of thing happens. I tell you, I envy those that live in those po-dunk sounds out in the middle of nowhere, when it comes to that. You know, out there, a place stays a place. There is no need to reflect the tube, because it wouldn’t change business one bit.” Todd nodded, with his arms folded, looking around at the buildings surrounding them and then bending hi neck a bit to check down in the garden. “Fake gardens to counteract the concrete jungle. Funny, no, Mr. Buddha?” Woodwork chuckled and then checked his inner suit coat pocket, and under his breath, frustrated, he said “goddamnit!” The waitress came back over to the table very quickly, holding a brand new tin of Treasurer cigarettes, and Woodwork smiled and nodded to the waitress. “Much obliged, Senioritta,” he exclaimed. 
After opening the package of overly priced cigarettes and again offering Todd one first, and Todd declining, he lit up that first new cigarette and breathed out a sigh sounding exquisite pleasure. Turning to Todd, cigarette in hand and both elbows on the table, he said “I love to smoke, Buddha. I love it! I don’t care what the fucking surgeon general says---shit, they say something different with every administration anyway. Still, what I am saying is, I looooove to fucking smoke! Are you getting me there Mr. Buddha? You understanding me?” Todd laughed a little, more out of the need to make some kind of sound as he was feeling a bit uncomfortable. Woodwork, believing Todd was in denial, went further. “I don’t think you are gettin’ me there son. Do you understand me when I say that I love to fucking smoke! I love to smoke so much that I would put my love of smoking right up next to my love of eating a woman out! Do you hear me? Am I speaking loud enough for you?” Todd, feeling quite uncomfortable with Woodwork’s zeal, laughed and commented, “Yes, Mr. Woodwork, I definitely get what you are saying. You have definitely made your point, I believe.” And with that, Woodwork took the longest drag Todd had ever seen someone take on a cigarette, breathing in almost three quarters of the cigarette itself. Woodwork then kept the smoke inside him for an extra long moment---one that made Todd believe that he might choke and die, or something to that effect. Finally, exhaling, he moved his tongue around between his lips in a sleazy motion as the smoke moved out from inside him. “You see Mr. Buddha, I love smoking more than eating a pussy out. I love it more because there is no consequence in my smoking one, two, three cigarettes, or this whole fucking pack. It, like a good rock song on the radio, or perhaps, a great film that you see for the first time---it don’t bite back. You get me? You can’t say that about a woman, can you Buddha? You can’t say that about a woman.” 
Todd turned his head to the side, as if to admire the very lack of scenery that there was behind the restaurant. When he turned back, Woodwork was gone. It was odd, Todd felt, as he didn’t hear him even move his chair back. There had not even been a rustling of the tablecloth, but Todd did notice that he had left his new pack of cigarettes on the table---sure there were two now gone from the pack, but the pack itself was there. Woodwork would be coming back, Todd was positive. Had Woodwork been a ghost of some kind, he was still coming back for his smokes. He had made it perfectly clear how much he loved smoking.
Todd, left alone for a moment---really the first since he had met Mr. Woodwork in the park earlier---started to bring his thinking back to those issues that he had deliberated in the morning. He closed his eyes and began to envision a place of freedom, peace and tranquility. Soon the outside feeling of the pub where he was sitting, seemed to float away, as did the rest of the buildings around it and the outside world altogether. Now with a better, comfortable feeling ebbing and flowing through his consciousness, he forgot everything around him and found himself somewhere he’d never been before, somewhere serene---a beach of some sorts. He could feel the sand beneath his toes, and the warmth from whatever beached area this was that he had come to was gentle upon his body. Looking down, he noticed he was shirtless, wearing only a pair of aqua blue swim trunks. 


Submitted: February 03, 2011

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