I’m having coffee. At Starbuck’s, you can pay ten dollars and receive Internet access for twenty-four hours in a row, regardless of which Starbuck’s you enter. Therefore, I have decided to stop at every single Starbuck’s that I see from now on. That will make this business trip more enjoyable. As I tap on the keys of my glowing laptop and sip the green-label coffee, I wonder how many Starbuck’s there are in Los Angeles.
I’m actually about twenty miles south of LA city center, in Aliso Viejo. One woman at this Starbuck’s reads a copy of The Actor’s Nightmare and chews on an eraser. An unshaven surf dude, wearing a moustache and sleeveless T, gabbles quietly on a cell phone: the sitcom script needs a rewrite. Two blonde women, both stacked like the International House of Pancakes, mince in the door. They are twin sex bombs in high heels and jogging sweaters and clinging polyester pants, and they both order decaf something.
I lean over to the guy to my right. He’s ruffling a Los Angeles Times and sucking a cappuccino. “May I respectfully request that you move over one seat? I’d like to use that power plug,” I say. He snorts humorlessly. “No. I like it here.” Didn’t sleep last night; too tired to pick a fight over electricity.
My mapping software says it’s 1401.1 miles from this Starbuck’s to Three Point, Texas. Were I to simply fuel up the rented Mustang and chase the night across the Mojave, the computer thinks I could make it in three days. How many Starbuck’s would that be?
Dear God, I miss him.