Foreword by Stan Lerner: the following short story “Breakfast At Bottega Louie” is a work of fiction, written as a novella, meant to give the blog reader a unique literary experience. In essence “Breakfast at Bottega Louie” is a love story that examines the intersection and repair of two broken lives. I present to you the story, now in its entirety.
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE
I did not move to Downtown Los Angeles in order to seek adventure nor to help the less privileged, but rather as a small, insignificant dinghy adrift in the sea of life. It’s true that like all writers, although I was a businessman all those years ago, I have had my moments of self-aggrandizement in which I have felt as if I had some special calling in life. I might have even caused a few dozen or so to share in this indulgent maybe even delusional belief. Yet, the reality is fairly simple: I came to live where I have now lived for the last fourteen years because it was inexpensive. Not that it looks inexpensive, rather the converse is in fact the case—I live in the lap of luxury. Indeed it was a once in a lifetime event that imbued such a fortunate circumstance on to me. A golden cage of my own in a thriving part of the city that has on some blocks even surpassed the quality of life that can be found on Ninth Street between Flower and Hope, for this is where I dwell.
One such block to rise in status midst our prosperous neighborhood would be 7th Street. It had some grand old days in the grand old days but had spent forty of the last forty years as a shadow of its former greatness. My own mother, may she rest in piece, reminisced about the trolley cars that had transported her and Aunt Louise to shopping excursions at the stores that once towered above the streets. The original Robinson’s headquarters I’m sure was a favorite stop. And just across the street was Brooks Brothers where my dad had bought suits. I know this latter statement to be absolutely true as I wore a hand-me-down from this very store in my senior picture. I didn’t mind at the time, but now wish I had been wearing a fine suit of my own on this occasion.
With this location, formerly Brooks Brothers, I am inimitably well versed. Because in the days that I sought to build a clothing empire of my own rooted in the value proposition and a familiar sounding name, I toured the premise with the serious intent of turning it into a larger and improved version of my store a block to the north. Why this did not transpire I can no longer recall, but this is easy to forgive as my empire building days left carnage on the streets that would have wowed the Cesar’s—even Caligula, and after praying for much forgiveness some things a man should be allowed to forget.
For three years the site that was once almost part of my rein of business terror seemed to be under perpetual on and off construction. The floors above were with equal sluggishness being transformed into lofts—part of an adaptive reuse boom that was both revitalizing the city and adding substantially to my net worth, which ironically had been increasing daily for years as I benefited from no merit of my own other than the weakness to live the life of what I think of as the faux rich. Interesting, that a phantom economy turned my faux rich life into a life of semi substance. No doubt in the future I shall lay claim to visionary status when I inevitably decide that humility no longer suits me. Humility? Yes, in substance if not in form I am a humble man. Particular? Yes. But one can be humble and still have an appreciation for the finer things in life. In fact in Los Angeles you can have all of the fine things in life—as I exemplify with little money at all or a fair amount of money that you owe and mean to, but don’t pay back.
I had been told of a gourmet market to open in this space where my father was once fitted for suits. Dave told me this and since he is gay and in real estate I assumed it to be completely accurate. Because, let’s face it, who can not keep a secret more so than a gay man that tells everyone he is gay. Personally, if I were gay I would tell no one. I mean that would seem to be more fun—especially with respect to the opposite sex. Imagine a black hole of neediness that one could not be sucked into simply by the fact that you appeared to be, but were not part of the same universe. I think that this is the great secret of heterosexual males—all wish to be gay. Not because they are attracted to men, personally I would rather be mauled by a Grizzly Bear, but because like the truth it would set us free—I digress but not really.
The gourmet market, known as Bottega Louie, when the wrappers came off the windows was a market, a café reminiscent of an indoor piazza, and fine dining establishment with an open kitchen. The white marble that lay beneath my Gucci clad feet exuded the class of a substantive foundation necessary to all great social interactions. The often-played classical music synthesized with the morning light to give me life again as I sipped my cappuccino and because I am a greedy man I had been indulging myself at Bottega, the little store in Italliano, for eight consecutive mornings.
“Oh grand,” I thought to myself as I read the LA Times front-page story. Funny how members of the establishment react when you say LA Times. A giggle and role of the eyes that have come to symbolize a death watch of sorts. Yes, the once proud paper of the Chandler Era of Los Angeles is now owned by an overleveraged trailer park billionaire. “Is it safe?” asked Zell. “Is what safe?” “I simply want to know if its safe?” asked Zell coming closer. “Yes, its safe.” Let me interrupt one of the greatest scenes in motion picture history and say…ITS NOT SAFE! Men who have adorned themselves with wealth renting out space in trailer park establishments should not purchase newspapers! And they should not be funded by unfunded pension funds silly boys of Wall Street. Although if I could write a risk management algorithm I’d probably move back East and short the market—more unoriginal than you might think. But that would be another story of a Chinese terrorist plot that destroyed the economy of our country. Ugh!
So the front page made it clear that my disdain for killing unborn babies, my belief that government need not more tax money to waste, and the fact that I served our country with distinction now classified me as a potential right-wing threat. I thought about this for a moment—“true,” I concluded. And contemplated throwing a tea party of my own. “No taxation without representation!” meaning: that elected officials should listen and act with respect for the will of the people—not just be elected and do as they please, please.
“Excuse me handsome, do you mind if I join you,” said the voice, light and polite with an accent from several nice little towns, but not enough time in any to be weighed down with the reality of their circumstance.
I lowered my paper, my LA Times, perhaps soon to be as relevant as the tenants of the La Brea Tar Pits. Twenty was all she could have been. So pretty, so small, and a polka dot sundress—in April. Her short brown hair was as playful as her smile. Brown well shaped thighs at eye level gave her otherwise breath of dial soap scented fresh-air a sense of sexuality. This girl was a drink to be had…But I had given up drinking in the morning when the last of the old men from Europe I had grown up with had expired. I looked past her at all of the empty tables. Bottega is busy for lunch and dinner, but not breakfast—because it is what they do best. And isn’t it true brothers and sisters that it is the nature of man to want to believe a lie more than the truth. The best should always go unrewarded in this day, which makes it the imperative for contrarians such as myself to indulge in a breakfast at Bottega Louie.
“Of course you can join me, but there are plenty of other tables.”
She sat letting out a sigh of relief. “I didn’t come all the way from Windfield Kansas via Lakeside Montana to the City of Angels to eat by myself.” She poked me in the chest with what I considered to be a very well formed little finger. “You look interesting.”
“I can just give you money to buy something to eat. You don’t have to sit with me,” I suggested rudely.
“Oh,” her eyes teared up. “You think I’m that kind of girl. It’s true I probably can’t afford to eat in a fancy place like this, but I think you need me more than I need you…”
I smiled. “Well, now that we’ve cleared that up—please stay.”
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE PART TWO
“My name is Breeze Goodwilling! But my friends call me Breezey and not because it rhymes with easy….You are?” Her hand jutted out toward me.
“No, don’t tell me. I’m just going to call you Man…Like in that book “Anthem”.”
Forgetting to let go of her hand I asked the obvious, “You’ve read the least known work of Ayn Rand?”
“And “The Fountain Head”. And “Atlas Shrugged”.” She snapped the fingers of her left hand, which remained free from my grasp. “I’m not going to call you Man, too seventies street, I’m going to call you Roark, like Howard Roark. But you kind of remind me of Hank Rearden also.” She shrugged and clasped her now free hands in her lap in front of her. Then her face lighted up with a thought. “Because you’re an original thinker like Howard Roark in “The Fountain Head” and you look pretty established like “Hank Rearden” in Atlas Shrugged—I’m going to call you Hank Roark. Do you love it, Roarky?”
“Yes I do. I’ve always wanted to be an objectivist super hero. But seriously my name is Howard—so let’s stick with that, Breezey.”
Leaning forward she kissed me on the cheek. “I knew you were a Howard.” She leaned back and crossed her arms across her firm, high with youth chest. “Where are you from Howard? It seems like you’ve traveled the world. You’re so worldly postured. And posture never lies.”
“I was born in East LA. Went to UCLA. Moved to Downtown LA. And once saw a cock fight and bull fight in the same day—in Tijuana, T.J.”
She leaned forward. “I knew there was something worldly about you. I’ve always wanted to go to a bull fight…But even though I’m open minded I’ve never watched pornography so I doubt a cock fight would interest me much.”
“Not that kind of cock fight,” I quipped. “Roosters, they tie razor blades to their little rooster feet and they slash each other to death—then they give them to poor people to eat.”
“That sounds so brutal, but I’m glad they give them to the poor people. I wish the world wasn’t such a brutal place. Don’t you?”
I thought of all the men I had shot in Lebanon and other countries to protect the American way of life. Sometimes when not able to shoot them I cut their throats or strangled the life out of them. On one occasion I called in a bombing that destroyed, not only a pesky terrorist type, but an entire apartment building filled with families. Just for the record I allow myself to have no regrets about any of this. I am a third generation American and even though industry may be on the decline I feel a sense of pride in that as a people we can still obliterate all other countries and or their people any old time we want to.
I nodded. “It would be better if the world wasn’t such a brutal place.”
Breezey looked me eye to eye. “My Grandfather fought in World War II, so I know the posture of your kind. War is different. Grandpa was the nicest man ever; he used to make me pancakes on Sunday mornings. Did someone make you pancakes on Sunday mornings, Howy?”
The smell of Sunday morning breakfast wafted through the air giving my early morning chores a sense of urgency to be concluded. “A lifetime ago,” I thought.
“My mom used to.”
“She doesn’t anymore?” Breeze asked, with the shock exclusive to those who still suffer from youth.
“Both my parents are dead,” I said flatly. So cold has my life become that not even the memories of the womb that conceived me nor the hands that built the shelter that allowed my being to flourish into the nothingness of today can warm my shell much.
“You’re an orphan. You poor thing. Lucky I came along.”
“What would you like to eat?” I asked, repulsed with myself for not wanting her to leave.
She looked at me with an incredulous smile, so amused was Breeze. “You decide. You’re the man.”
The waiter at Bottega Louie that tends to my usually fairly simple needs has an uncanny six-sense for my digestive desires. “Would you like to order Mr. Roark?” asked this server of professional distinction.
“Could you bring the young lady some coffee, juice, Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal, Smoked Salmon Benedict, and a Belgian Waffle, please.”
“That’s more than I eat in a week.”
“But easier than trying to decide what you might like…Other than pancakes, which undoubtedly would not be the equal to the ones Grandpa used to make,” I said, explaining my thought process thoroughly.
She smiled. “I think I might, kind of, love you—“
“Yeah, I kind of love you too.” I said this gruffly in an attempt to hide the truth that underlay my words.
As Breeze took her last bite of waffle, having finished off everything else in its absolute entirety, she asked the inevitable, but first let me add that there was much conversation during her culinary expedition that I will recount when she is not present in the present tense of our story. “Is there a place that you would recommend that I stay? Something safe and affordable and that wouldn’t mind me paying once I get a job and my first paycheck, which shouldn’t be too much trouble because I’m a hard worker. And I’m honest.”
I wrote down an address with my Mont Blanc on a napkin that lay akimbo beneath my cup and saucer. And handed it to her.
“Is it nice? I mean I’m not fancy or anything, but I haven’t had a nice place to call home in a long time.”
“You’ll like it.” I reached into my pocket and handed her the key to my home—I’ve never done anything like this in my life in case the question weighs on anyone’s mind. “One block over and two blocks down. Do you have any, things?”
She shook her head. “I did, but everyday I ridded myself of something until this morning when I had absolutely nothing…That’s what did it you know. If I had anything we wouldn’t have met, I’m sure of it.”
I pulled out my wallet and handed her a hundred dollar bill. “There’s a Ralphs Market across from where I…I mean we live. If you need more…”
“No this will be more than enough. Do you want me to make lunch? Of course you do.” She waved her hand around. “You can’t eat here three meals a day. I make a great peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Do they have Wonder Bread at markets in Los Angeles? That’s the key ingredient.”
I nodded. I wanted to tell her not to break anything or steal anything or jump off my balcony. But I held my tongue. I really didn’t care about anything anymore, so if some girl I had known for an hour was to ruin such a disappointing existence, so be it, the thought kind of thrilled me. “Better to die an old lion,” the voice from so many centuries ago whispered in my ear. This wisdom from Solomon had preserved me many times in the days of my youth. “But I am an old lion now,” I whispered back in the shadows of my mind.
Breeze kissed me on the cheek—again. However, this time she lingered for a moment and the scent of her hair intoxicated me like no amount of libation ever had. “Get some work done and come home—I miss you already.”
I watched her walk out of Bottega Louie. Then looked down at my computer still in its Gucci carrying case. While she ate I had mentioned that I was a writer—and now she wanted me to work. “I think I will,” I almost said out loud. And then the unthinkable thought almost made me laugh hysterically—I did of course control myself. I was looking forward to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE PART THREE
Post Breeze’s departure I sat at Bottega Louie and resumed work on a script long overdue to be finished. Hollywood is a funny little place filled with men and women that split at the seams with self-importance all according to a formula that calls for the less the talent variable to be supplanted by the arrogance constant in every possible calculation. It’s enough to make anyone with even the slightest skill wish that they didn’t have it—so they could then join the ranks of the Hollywood Happy. Me, I do it (write) because I can no longer bring myself to masturbate five or six times a day. Rather, I put my words on paper, usually a hundred pages or so, and let the creative executives do so in the round.
Currently I am writing the screen adaptation of my novella horror classic titled “Blast”. “Blast”, only available as an ebook for Amazon Kindle, is a gory affair. Kids throwing a rave in a defense plant left vacant and full of death implements of every possible kind. There is teenage rape, cop killing, drug abuse, best friend infidelity…Excuse me I have to yawn…Oh, and the always classic biting off of the bad guy’s penis while being forced to commit oral copulation—always a crowd pleaser that one is. No doubt the MPAA will think this masterpiece deserving of an R rating, anything less would ring disappointing to me. No. I’m not a sellout. I feed these sows this ever increasingly bad slop hoping that they will one day bankrupt themselves, financially speaking since there is no moral account for me to raid amongst this band, and cause their likes to leave the town allowing the type that don’t use the word commercial in every other sentence to once again make motion pictures.
Later that day—lunchtime, I stood in my high-rise two-bedroom two-bath condominium trying to digest not a peanut butter sandwich I had not eaten yet due to Breeze’s excitement at the improvement she had made to my office, which she insisted I see at once.
“Do you like it?” she asked, so brimming with glee that I became lost in thought trying to ascertain the last time I had been so enthusiastic about anything as she was.
“Yes I do. Where did you find pink paint and the time to paint my office, while I was working on my latest masterpiece “Blast”?” I inquired pretty sure I had never stood in an entirely pink room before.
“Well your neighbors down the hall are having a baby soon, a girl, and they were painting her room pink.” She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me for real. “I’m sorry I just had to do that. You have the cutest expression on your face right now.” I call this my rigor mortis look. Years in Hollywood have given me the uncanny ability to freeze a grin on my face no matter what thoughts might be coursing through my cortex. So unique is my ability, several presidential candidates have sought out and paid for me to train them in the art over the years. Here’s a hint as to how to achieve this incredible state of emotional paralysis. Before every pitch meeting, social event, and premiere have a friend that you trust water board you, all the while trying to keep a smile on your face. And because the CIA no longer water-boards, RIGHT, you can get the entire apparatus necessary for such training at a very reasonable price—these days.
“Hey, this is a pretty good peanut butter sandwich,” I said sitting in the dining room wondering what color it might be in the future.
“I took the crust off for you.” She took a bite of her own crustless Wonder Bread wonder sandwich. “They’re not that hard to make, I can show you. See most people don’t understand that a sandwich isn’t just a clump of something between two pieces of bread. A sandwich is about balance. Too much peanut butter and not enough jelly and you have a mouth full of yuck. And you can’t even taste the bread.” And then Breeze proceeded to go through every possible incarnation of what could go wrong with a peanut butter sandwich. When she finished with peanut butter her explanation moved on to tuna fish and six different types of lunchmeat.
Because we hadn’t yet known one another in the carnal way her dissertation was nothing less than delightful to listen to.
“Can we go to the Opera later? I’ve always wanted to go to the Opera.”
I was still pondering the mustard to pastrami ratio of her previous train of thought. “Good,” I thought, “she’ll keep me quick on my feet and I, I mean we, only live a few blocks from the music center so the opera is much easier to get to—than say, the Grand Prix.”
“Sure, I’ll procure some tickets at the conclusion of lunch.”
“Now,” she whispered with a sense of intensity.
“Here?” I asked, but knew the answer.
With one sweeping motion of my arm I cleared the Wedgwood and Baccarat to the hardwood floor. She lay beneath me on the tabletop before the last sound of crashing china and crystal had finished tickling the hairs of my cochlea. No details need be explained. Breeze was like no other woman, is all I will allow myself to say. And much like when she left me sitting at Bottega Louie craving a sandwich made by her own hand for lunch, I was already looking forward to what evening time might bring; because Breeze Goodwilling was indeed a mystery that I was hoping could never be solved.
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE PART FOUR
A week had gone by since Breeze first appeared at my table that morning at Bottaga Louie—much had transpired. Every morning started with breakfast at Bottega Louie, I continued to order the Breezster everything on the menu. However the once quiet morning hour was quickly becoming a thing of the past, the blame for which lay squarely on the perfectly formed shoulders of my lover and soul mate Breeze Goodwilling. For during the hours after breakfast when I would write and she would seek out gainful unemployment she would tell everyone that she met about our delectable breakfast tradition. And then they would come—as much to see her as to eat, but the effect was the same, intentions aside.
Honestly, I have some doubt that Breeze was making such a vigilant effort to join the workforce and I don’t blame her. Perhaps there is nothing better than to be a beautiful woman. Surely there is nothing worse than to be a homely one—although even the ugliest of the female gender can find a man to satisfy them on any given night at any establishment that serves beverages of the fermented nature—there is always a willing taker of their goods. Conversely the most handsome and wealthy man among us can frequent a dozen watering holes and still have a night in which he goes home thirsty for feminine attention. But a beautiful woman is truly blessed, as more riches than can be found in Fort Knox lie just below her beltline. Perhaps Breeze hadn’t been conned out of her ultimate worth. I for one was willing to provide an unlimited line of credit against the bullion that was in essence a crotch. And from the ever growing number of those hovering around our table during breakfast at Bottega Louie so were untold others.
“Sweetheart, when you’re done writing today can we take a drive somewhere beautiful?” she inquired.
“Of course, what are you in the mood for?” I asked this because The Golden State has beautiful deserts, mountains, and beaches to see all within an hour or so of each other.
“Well Bobby, that’s the boy I told you that works at the law firm, said if I was his girl he’d take me to somewhere called Santa Barbara.” Breeze reached over and put her hand on my arm. “Not that I would ever be his girl. I mean he’s really good-looking, but too young. And don’t you worry I’ve told him so.”
I put my cappuccino down. “Well if the good-looking young Bobby would take his girl to Santa Barbara then the old handsome Howard will certainly do the same. In fact I think we’ll spend the night at the Biltmore and then go over the hill to Los Olivos and do some wine tasting. Bet Bobby didn’t mention that part to you?”
Breeze leaned over and kissed me on the lips, for all the other vultures to see. “I love you. A girl just needs to play these games sometimes. It makes us feel good about ourselves.”
“I know,” I said standing. “C’mon, I’m not going to write today. Let’s get this show on the road.” My gaze oscillated around the cafe at the jealous ones. “That’s right boys, talk is cheap the Biltmore isn’t,” I thought to myself.
BREAKFAST AT BOTTEGA LOUIE PART FIVE
I held Breeze’s hand as we traversed the last of the rocks. I, steady as the surefooted Appaloosas I had ridden in some of the least desirable places in the world—doing some of the least desirable activities for monetary gain. All a very stark contrast to the beach of Santa Barbara the sand of which was soon cool to the touch of our feet. The sun warmed my skin, busy injecting its’ outer dermis with melanin, while the concerto of wind and sea soothed my ears. At some point after a substantial stroll we sat, Breeze between my legs, her back against my own chest and abdomen, and perhaps even more so than when engaged in intercourse our bodies melded together. The three following days were a continuum of the bliss described herein, but alas it was incumbent on us to return to the city—although for the life of me I cannot recount why it was so. This is a truth that I urge all to ignore, if you find bliss, do not depart.
“I really do love you,” said Breeze pulling my smoking pipe from my mouth and taking a puff as she had observed me to do every night prior to dinner—yes prior.
“Hold it in your mouth for a few seconds and enjoy the body,” I suggested.
She exhaled slowly. “It tastes fruity.”
I nodded. “My favorite tobacco.”
“How come you never ask me questions about my past?”
I shrugged. “I don’t care for lies. And no woman can tell the truth about her past and speak the whole truth.”
“I would tell you everything,” she offered.
“I’m sure I’d love you less for it.”
She slapped at my chest playfully. “I hate you. I hate you.” I pulled up her loose t-shirt and kissed her stomach and then the soft flesh just below the pink of her nipple.
“I love you,” she whispered into my ear as we tipped over horizontal on the couch—forgetting about dinner.
Three delightful mornings later I sat at Bottega Louie. I had decided to add some bread and butter to my breakfast of cappuccino. Breeze had been weary from our much-anticipated night at the opera—it did not disappoint. Pagliacci was high drama from the moment Placido Domingo had walked on to the stage. I had taken the liberty of ordering Breezey’s breakfast in anticipation of her arrival.
“Do you mind if I join you,” asked the nice looking young fellow, interrupting my repose and reflection.
“Do I know you?” I asked, though from his accent I could easily foretell the encounter to come.
“No, but you and me got a lot in common.”
I gestured toward the chair. “I doubt that. But please join me anyway.”
Sitting. “You’re different than I imagined. When I heard Breeze was living with a writer I pictured a high falooting old guy.”
I leaned forward and said very quietly. “Before I was this…I killed a hundred little fucks like you.” I leaned back and smiled genially. “So mind your words carefully young friend.” My blood ran cold and the desire to hurt terribly this beautiful young creature rushed into me like the consumption of old—a disease in my heart I thought to have long since been cured of. “And I particularly dislike things like extortion and theft of things that belong to me.”
“Breeze and me are married. You’re living with my wife…I don’t want your money…I want Breeze.”
“Fool,” I thought to myself. “Did you forget the end to your own story? Like Ramses II charging ahead at Kadesh you have outrun your army—the army of yourself.” I looked at the husband. “Why should I believe you? Maybe you’re just …”
“A stalker,” he said finishing my thought. “I’m not. We got married a year ago, on her sixteenth birthday. Probably told you she was older. Probably didn’t tell you we have a baby—that’s not why we got married though. We loved each other. And then she started reading all the time. First it was just a bunch of stuff on the computer at the library. Then books.”
“My books?” I asked.
He nodded. “It took a while for me to figure out. I mean I was in some kind of shock for a while, waking up and her not being there and all—the baby cries all the time.”
I rubbed my forehead. Adultery, statutory rape, child abandonment, now I could rest in peace knowing that I had achieved perfection in my imperfection, of course I could lie to myself and say I did not know.
“In Texas it’s legal for us to live as husband and wife…I’m sure you know that in California…”
I waved off his words. “I didn’t ask, because I didn’t care. I suppose I wanted this.”
Breeze walked in and joined our table as if nothing was wrong. “Hi Randy, fancy meeting you here.”
“You look good Breeze.”
“California suits me.”
“I’m here to bring you home.”
“This is my home.”
“No, your home is with your husband and your son back in Texas,” said the husband.
A tear ran down Breeze’s cheek.
“Tell the writer that you have a little house, but it’s nice. Tell him that your husband works hard. Tell him that I’ve never laid a hand on you. Tell him that I had plans and you talked me into settling down because you had to get out of your parent’s house. Tell him that I didn’t deserve this, Breeze.”
“I’m a terrible person.” She looked at the husband tears streaming down both cheeks. “Why would you want me back?”
“You’re no different than anyone else Breeze.” Nodding at me. “Neither is he…And I don’t hate you Mr. I have a right to, but I don’t.” Looking back at Breeze. “Everybody wants a better life. But you have a life and you can’t just leave it—you have to live the life you already got.”
Breeze turned and looked me eye to eye; the loneliness of my true life was once again my companion. “Do you want me to go?”
I nodded. “You should go.”
The husband raised himself from his chair and extended his hand. Breeze Goodwilling took it and stood, a smile coming to her face as she quickly regained her lost dignity. And without another word they left.
As I watched the good-looking young couple depart Breeze’s breakfast arrived at the table.
“Are your guests coming back Mr. Roark?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Will you still be needing all this food?”
I smiled, picturing that first breakfast at Bottega Louie that I had bought for the beautiful young girl. “No. Put it on my bill, but take it away.” And he did.