When Bryan awoke the following morning he had a slight hangover. Nothin’ he ain’t dealt with before, he was a sailor, so he knows how to drink. Making a quick breakfast of oatmeal and Earl Gray tea, Bryan thought back to a thought he had last night amidst the inebriated pool game. Get a tattoo, Bryan mused to himself. I think it’s time to get my Compass.
Bryan had long wanted to get a compass tattoo on his left forearm and being in Nashville there had to be plenty of tattoo artists abound. There was just one issue. He and Jeff had only agreed that Bryan could stay for one night in the construction site and if Bryan meant to get a tattoo he would need another day to let his arm heal at least a little bit before getting back to the open road.
Bryan knew he needed to call Jeff. He had his cell number and needed ask to stay a second night. He knew he had to do this tactfully as his question might be considered an imposition on his gracious host. Then Bryan had it; an idea. He needed to be open and honest about his request to stay another night, but he couldn’t just shotgun it out there. The question might seem too forceful; his host might feel put upon. Bryan wanted a satisfactory answer that was true, but he was also concerned that he didn’t offend the generous lawyer who he would be asking to trust him in his project a second night. To engineer a situation that would be beneficial to both parties, Bryan had to something that some might consider a bit sneaky, though Bryan would just call it the art of negotiation.
Jeff did enjoy playing host and tour guide, and Bryan decided to see if Jeff might know where a man could get breakfast, that way he could give Jeff that feeling of using his knowledge that his new host so enjoyed and that would put Jeff in a positive mood, setting the conversation up for a more favorably reply when Bryan segued into his imposing question. Plan in mind, Bryan made the call. Jeff picked up almost immediately. After going through the usual pleasantries of ‘Good Morning,’ ‘How’d you sleep at the site,’ and the like, Bryan moved surprisingly quickly to the first question, “’ey Jeff, s’posing a man wanted to get breakfast, where might he go?”
As Bryan had supposed, Jeff was more than eager to use his knowledge of the city to help our young traveler; in fact Jeff so wanted to help Bryan find a place to eat, he decided that he’d come pick Bryan up and take him on another tour of the city so that Bryan could see what Jeff was talking about and make mental notes. Jeff pointed out many different places in the immediate area that a guy could grab a bite to eat, but Jeff insisted that Bryan try Panera Bread.
As they were pulling into the parking lot, Bryan knew what was going to happen next. Jeff was gonna treat him to breakfast; he was just that kinda guy, and if he did that then Bryan would feel that the exchange was becoming really unbalanced and he might feel a bit too guilty to ask. So Bryan did what any honest traveler should do, he leveled with him. “Hey Jeff, I had told you on the phone I’d had two questions for ya. The first was about breakfast and I think it’s only fair that you know the second one because it’s a bit of an imposition on ya.” Bryan shifted his weight in the truck. “I’d like to stay a second night if yer not opposed. Nashville’s got a nice vibe to it an’ there’s somethin’ I wanna do today out in town.”
Parking the truck neatly in a parking space Jeff began to respond, “Well actually, it’s interesting that you say that because there is another option.” Jeff and Bryan stepped out of the truck and entered Panera Bread. The conversation was put on hold as the two men looked at the towering beige menu on the far wall. Bryan scanned it with his eyes not knowing what to choose and really not even registering his sight. He was busy in his head wondering what this ‘other option’ was.
When Jeff spoke it brought Bryan out of his own thoughts, “Have you ever tried the Asiago Cheese Bread?”
“Can’t say that I have.” Bryan crossed his arms as he pretended to be weighing his breakfast options. He does that sometimes without meaning to; his body assumes the stance of doing something, but his mind’s somewhere else. “I’ve never been to Panera Bread.”
“Oh, you have to try this then. Some coffee and this Asiago Bread are amazing.”
Jeff either really enjoyed showing off how knowledgeable he was, or role reversal had happened; Jeff seemed to be trying to set Bryan up for a favorable response to this ‘other option.’ The more Bryan thought about the situation, the more Bryan began to wonder if he should be staying another night or not. It seemed as though the lawyer and the traveler were trying to set each other up for a satisfactory response to questions which may be opposed. Perhaps the two were engaged in a subtle negotiation and coffee and bread wasn’t ‘coffee and bread;’ the food items having much more significance than that. Bryan decided to not get the Asiago Bread and evaluate what happened next.
“I’ll have the Steak, Egg, and Cheese bagel and a cup of coffee, please.” Bryan had deliberately avoided Jeff’s suggestion to see what his response would be.
That’s when Jeff moved in and did exactly what Bryan thought he would do, but with a twist. “Could you add an Asiago Bread to that?” he said as he pulled out his wallet.
He had foisted an Asiago Bread to Bryan’s order. Was this a play for domination? He’d pulled out his wallet; he clearly intended to pay for Bryan’s breakfast despite our hero’s going through the motions of the ‘I’m politely declining, but I really hope you go through with it anyway,’ bit. Perhaps this ‘other option’ involved something the lawyer wanted Bryan to do for him and just as Bryan was setting Jeff up by playing to his need to ‘be smart,’ perhaps the lawyer was setting Bryan up by playing to his stomach. The games continued as they sat down in a corner booth.
Jeff started the conversation as Bryan took a bite of the steak bagel, “It is interesting that you ask to stay a second night, because I’ve looked at the weather for the next few days and it supposed to rain till Sunday and you might be here for a while.”
Interesting development, Bryan had wanted an extra night to get a tattoo and now his host was essentially saying that he was comfortable with the idea that Bryan could be here a couple of days. That seemed to jive well with Bryan’s goals, but now the question was this, “If the lawyer was already anticipating Bryan’s extended stay before he’d put the question to him, then Bryan needed to ask himself if he wanted to stay, knowing that lawyer was already thinking about this?”
“As it so happens,” the lawyer continued. “The property you stayed in last night will be worked on today at about 3 PM. We’ve got to prime all the walls on the second floor so we can paint them later. Problem is, the walls are covered in dry wall dust and that makes it very hard to paint and this project has taken enough time as it is. If you were interested, I am in need of an extra hand on the project. You could stay till the rain passes and you could earn a little drinking money while you’re at it. If you’re interested.”
Bryan didn’t have to think about that for very long. The lawyer and the traveler were indeed setting each other up, but there goals were not unaligned. Bryan did want a place to stay, would like to make some money, and if it was true that rain was coming, it’d be nice to be indoors. And hell, if he was gonna be there anyway…
“Sure,” came Bryan’s response between sips of his coffee. Panera Bread had good fuckin’ coffee, boyo.
“Great. We’re actually set to prime the walls later today, so if you’re interested, I really need you to vacuum all the dry wall dust on the second floor.” Jeff opened the bag holding the Asiago Bread. “Try this. Asiago Bread is fantastic.”
Bryan accepted half of the Asiago Bread and took a generous bite. “Damn, that is good.” Bryan let the words linger in the air a bit as he chewed and swallowed the bread, washing it down with coffee. Then came the important question. “So, when would you like me to vacuum this dry wall dust?”
Jeff adjusted his posture in the chair. “Vacuuming is going to take some time and it’s 10:30 now. We’d like to prime at 3 when I get out of court. Of course we could prime and paint without vacuuming the dry wall dust, but the dust gets in the paint and the brushes and coagulates the mixture; so we’re always washing out our brushes and it takes all day to paint. So, it’d be great if you could go vacuum before we do this. And you should probably start right now; it’s going to take you a while; you’ve seen the place, it’s covered in dust. So if you’re interested, it’d be nice if you could go right now.”
Bryan was hoping he could go out into town and get inked today, but he’d be a fool of a man to pass up the opportunity to make some cash and avoid rain. He still had to check the weather to see if it was true that rain was coming, but it seemed like this could be a lucky opportunity. Perhaps Bryan should have negotiated a price or some kind of wage for his work before he began, but Bryan thought that might ruin the situation. If vacuuming was all he did and it took him an hour or two; then he’d prob’ly make about 20 bucks and he’d be fine with that. If his services were needed for a longer period of time, well they could discuss that when they got there.
Finished with their coffee and bread, the lawyer and the traveler drove back to the property and Bryan was set up with a shopvac and learned what rooms were more important than others and prioritized his work accordingly. Jeff took his sweet time explaining to Bryan about the property and the dry wall dust, nothing Jeff hadn’t mentioned many times over. When he finally left, Bryan got down to it. He was a vacuuming fool. Between 11 AM and 3 PM Bryan had managed to vacuum the floors walls and ceilings of 4 very large rooms and the upper foyer and stair case. Bryan was hoping that whatever his pay was going to be, that if he kicked ass at his work he’d be paid more. That’s the American Way. You get a job. You do the job. You do the job well, you get a better job. Bryan was banking (Ha) on this principle to earn him some extra cash.
Jeff came back right at 3 PM like he’d said. This time he had help. Romen was a Ukrainian craftsman who had a real talent for design. He could take the most ordinary, everyday objects and arrange them in a room; making magic happen. The three of them would be priming the walls and ceiling of the second floor.
The three of them worked together quite well. Romen’s English wasn’t the best and it wasn’t always easy to make out what he was saying, but the man loved music and movies and for all his ‘foreign… ness’ he definitely knew more about pop culture than Jeff or Bryan did, though Bryan’s friend and former roommate David had turned him into something of a music and actor buff, so he could at least keep up with Romen and his pop culture references.
They worked hard painting the rooms till about 7 PM when Romen had to leave; wife and kids ‘n all that. Jeff and Bryan worked for 10 minutes before Jeff finally noticed the time. “Hey, we’re gonna be late.”
Bryan was confused, “Late for what?”
“The restaurants close around here at 9.” Jeff checked his watch. “You’ve worked hard today and when you told your story of camping and cooking out of that small pot, well I thought you might enjoy a decent meal.”
Bryan would enjoy a decent meal. “Well, I appreciate that. I am however, covered in dry wall dust. I couldn’t walk into a restaurant if I tried.” Bryan stood with open arms as if to more clearly show the days labor.
“Don’t worry about it.” Jeff said reaching into his pockets for his keys. “You can shower at my place. It’s not far from here. We should be able to make it by 8.”
‘Things ‘ave been going good so far; an’ Jeff ‘imself was ‘ere to work alongside me, so I s’pose I can trust ‘im.’ Bryan thought in the most uncouth language he could think in. It seemed almost… Irish to him. Bryan is an insane man; that we can be sure of and sometimes he thinks in different accents just to amuse himself and from time to time he can be caught speaking in a whole other accent, voice, and demeanor altogether. Bryan laughed at himself, out loud, for being so weird, even by his standards, as he got into Jeff’s truck.
“What’s so funny?” Jeff asked firing the engine.
“Nothin.’ I’m jes stark raving mad is all.” Said the hitchhiker to the well-off lawyer.
“Oh, is that all?” Jeff made a left into a richer district of Nashville. “I figured that part out a long time ago… you are hitchhiking.”
They spent the 10 minute drive in idle chatter and reaching Jeff’s crash pad; Bryan met Belle the crazy dog and showered. Clean and dressed in the only other clothes Bryan has, they set off for what Bryan hoped was s kick ass meal.
Outback Steakhouse, a carnivore’s paradise. Steaks, ribs, bacon… The succulent meats of lesser boned animals hung in the air as the tongue was teased with the sight of the frosty brew being served in pints. Teresa the bartender took their orders and made their drinks. Bryan feasted on the explosive flavor of a full rack of ribs and among the many tall glasses of Blue Moon imbibed, Bryan introduced Jeff to his personal favorite and if Bryan may so bold as to say, his own creation: Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Dr. Pepper.
Jeff agreed with Bryan that it tastes very much like a regular Dr. Pepper, only with a little… something extra ; a ‘what is that’ in the background, like a dash of vanilla, yet you can’t quite place where it is. The night ended with bloated stomachs and drunken stupor. Creeping back into his sleeping bag at the construction site, Bryan drifted off softly to sleep.