Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world right now.

Let’s talk about something else.

As I bang away at the keyboard of my computer at home, I think back to a few hours earlier when I was banging away at the keyboard of my computer at work. Consideration of the similar actions jolts me back even further, months earlier actually, to May 2014 when I attended the OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.) annual conference.

While maneuvering the crowded hallways of the Embassy Suites, during the conference, I chanced upon Charlotte Smith, a friend and fellow writer. I can’t remember what I said to her, but her reply had stuck with me. She’d said, “Making a living often gets in the way of living.”

Returning to the present, I rub my chin and stare into open space, wondering about Charlotte’s cryptic phrase. I can’t decide where to go with it, but since OWFI is now in the air I continue to follow that.

Just before OWFI, I’d acquired the BMW that most of you have heard about, and as thoughts of the drive from Tulsa to Oklahoma City run through my head a smile turns the corners of my mouth. The Turner Turnpike is no Autobahn, but reality does little to curb my imagination.  My father had always complained that I lived in my own little world. I thank God that I do.

Drifting off again to OWFI, I remember my room at the Embassy Suites. The bathroom had sported fixtures that were several inches lower than I’m used to. I felt a bit like Gulliver. To put it subtly, using the facilities reminded me, in no pleasant fashion, of the squatting position assumed prior to jumping over some unfortunate kid in a game of leapfrog; taking a shower caused me to engage in a rather clumsy version of the Limbo; and brushing my teeth proved a bit of a challenge as my reflection in the mirror somewhat resembled a giant with the rabies. But it’d been a small price to pay. During the conference, Dan Case, the chief cook and bottle washer of AWOC Books, my publisher, had volunteered to act as shepherd for David Morrell, one of the conference speakers. I took the opportunity to tag along as Dan carried out his shepherd-like duties, which put me in a position to get to know David Morrell, who is best known for his debut novel, First Blood, which introduced the character Rambo. David is a great writer and a wonderful person.

During the final hours of the conference, while I was in the atrium of the hotel talking to a group of writers, Mr. Morrell showed up, dragging a suitcase and looking mildly distressed. He couldn’t locate his shepherd who was to take him to the airport.

I told him not to worry, that I would try to locate Dan, and if I could not, I would get him to the airport myself.

It took me a few minutes, but I finally found Dan in a conference room, taking pitches from potential clients. Even though I seldom wore a watch, I tapped my left wrist and Dan immediately understood what I was telling him. We rushed into the atrium, collected Mr. Morrell, and strolled out of the hotel. I don’t remember the reason, but Dan asked if we could take my car. I agreed of course. However, as fate would have it, another small problem arose: Mr. Morrell couldn’t get the handle of his pull-a-long suitcase to collapse. It wouldn’t be a problem getting the bag into the car, but the situation might entangle the boarding of the aircraft.

It must have been a sight, three grown men kneeling over a suitcase in a parking lot. Several passersby, perhaps thinking we were attending to a fallen comrade, asked if we needed assistance, though the lot of them quickly backed away upon determining our attention being set upon a piece of insubordinate luggage.

How hard could it be, you might ask?

As time became more of an issue, I suggested we employ brute-force and simply rip the insolent handle from the beast. The suggestion was not well received.

Finally Dan whipped out his cell phone. It seems his son lives in Oklahoma City and had some sort of shop nearby. With the connection made, we grab the luggage and scramble into the car.

Minutes later, we turn onto a barely-known backstreet of Oklahoma City where we find an industrial-looking building with several large overhead doors along the side. As we pull into the lot, we notice that one of the garage doors is open.

How much valuable time did getting the motley, crew to this point cost? Probably too much. Seeing a large man in overalls take a reciprocating saw to the defenseless luggage…Priceless.

We gave our thanks and said our goodbyes then gathered the pieces of luggage. Our lack of time had now become critical. Someone was giving me directions to the airport. Someone else asked, “How fast can this thing go?”

Never ask a BMW owner that question.

Let’s just say we made it to the airport on time. I think Dan and I made an impression on Mr. Morrell. Only time will tell.

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