Zooey dragged Fritz down the flights of stairs, into the lobby, and out onto the sidewalk in such a rush that Fritz was unsure of whether he was still in one piece.
“Okay, where to Captain?” Zooey said swinging her purse excitedly.
“Slow down there Tennille,” he said guiding her along the sidewalk, “It’s down this way.”
“Right!,” she said, following his lead. Fritz and Zooey walked idly down the sidewalk, arm in arm, Zooey awkwardly trying to skip in her turqoise boots, while Fritz dug through her bag in search of his heart shaped glasses. Zooey hummed enthusiastically as she bounced, slowly breaking out into song.
“Stop! I’ll be thinking of you, look in my heart and let love keep us togetheeeerrrr…“
Fritz gave her a sideways glance.
“It’s amazing you never get arrested,” he said sarcastically.
“And,” he started again, “Please sing something other than Captain & Tennille, please.”
“Fine,” she said, breaking into song again, “Jimmy, oh Jimmy Mack when are you comin’ back…“
Fritz’s once again put on his heart shaped glasses and smiled at Zooey as he began breaking into song before Zooey could try and beat him to the solo part.
“He calls me on the phooooone, about threeeee times a daaaaay.”
Zooey stopped skipping and watched Fritz curiously as he threw his hands in the air and danced frivilously in a circle while people on the sidewalk gazed with amused expressions. He stopped short.
“Sorry,” he said, putting his arms down, “I just imagined us as the next Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, only it would be something like Fritz Reeves and the Zooellas…or something…”
“Zooellas?” Zooey said lifting an eyebrow and laughing.
“First thing that came to mind. You’re right, that sounds like Godzilla or something. Maybe we should go back to Captain & Tennille, but I’ll get to sing all the Tennille parts this time,” Fritz explained.
“Forget it, we were never made to be musicians, only music appreciators and smugglers,” Zooey said as she played with her fringed scarf.
“Smugglers?” Fritz said disgusted, “No, the term is music hoarder.”
“Okay, I get it,” Zooey said annoyed. Fritz turned the corner at the end of the block as Zooey followed. He lead her to what he promised was an ‘antiquated coffee joint’ in which he had somehow purchased for the both of them.
The coffee shop was no longer a coffee shop. Years of abandondedment and intermittant sun and rain, coupled with three generations of ravaging pigeons had reduced it to a dusty shrine.
“Whoa,” Zooey said in an exasperated tone standing before its glory. “Don’t tell me you bought this on ebay or something.”
“Do I look like an idiot?” Fritz smirked.
“This actually used to be a bar back in the sixties during the real days of Haight Ashbury,” he explained.
“Seriously?” Zooey said hopefully. “You know, if we get this place running, we can claim that Janis Joplin used to drink espresso here. People are dumb enough to believe anything.”
“Not sure about the espresso part though,” Fritz said.
“Yeah,” Zooey agreed, “Janis seemed more like a latte person.” Fritz rolled his eyes dramatically in attempts that Zooey would see. He pulled out a ring of keys from his hemp bag and struggled to open the door. Fritz and Zooey used their weight to push open the door, in which obviously had not been used for some time.
The room was alive with dust and oddly carried the faint smell of Greek food. Zooey shuffled hurriedly around the shop, looking at chairs and fingering the dark green paint on the walls.
“Groovy!” she shouted excitedly.
“But wait,” she started, “We of all people know next to nothing about running a coffee shop. Sure, we drink coffee as if we were coffee junkies…”
“Inject me,” Fritz said dreamily.
“Seriously,” Zooey said sternly, “We can make coffee in our dandy little dispensers and sometimes I like to get fancy with the cappachino machine, but I never thought I’d actually have to do it for real.”
“As if making coffee for me wasn’t real?!” Fritz gasped dramatically.
“So,” Zooey shifted her gaze to Fritz, “How did you possibly afford to buy this ramshackle of godliness?”
“You’re gonna laugh,” he said nervously.
“What?” He shouted, “No, no I did not sell your Blythe doll on ebay. You wouldn’t laugh about that.”
“Oh yeah,” Zooey said, “I probably wouldn’t. Although, I’m pretty sure selling a vintage Blythe doll to some crazy fanatic in Japan could seriously bring in enough money to buy something like this.”
“No kidding,” Fritz said, “But anyway, do you remember Miyoko?”
“The Japanese exchange student we let crash with us? Yeah, I remember, she let me have that great vintage David Bowie t-shirt in exchange for rent.”
“Yeah her,” Fritz said, “Remember she kept going on and on about some guy’s manuscript she so proudly stole? Well, she left it when she went…well, wherever she went. Anyway, it had the author’s name on it.”
“Wait, Miyoko stole some guy’s manuscript? Why?” Zooey questioned.
“I’m still wondering why,” Fritz said.
“Anyway,” Fritz continued, “I managed to contact the author, who coincidentally lives in this very city.”
“And?” Zooey prodded.
“Well, we talked on the phone and he sounded really insane, as most writers are, I know from experience. But anyway, I told him about Miyoko and having his manuscript, apparently the idiot only had one copy, the one Miyoko stole.”
“And so he paid you a bunch of money as a reward for returning it?” Zooey asked with raised eyebrows.
“Not quite,” Fritz said.
“Apparently he’s some kind of trust-funder who inherited a bunch of stuff, like, a loft apartment and money and apparently this place,” he said as he gestured towards where they stood.
“So,” Zooey said, “You’re telling me that this psycho guy traded you a manuscript for some old bar he inherited?”
“Pretty much,” Fritz said with a shrug.
“Weird,” Zooey said, “Did you meet him?!”
“Yeah, creepy part is…he’s practically our age,” Fritz said.
“Ruins my fantasy, I imagined him as some 40-ish Buddhist drunk French man,” Zooey said dissapointedly.
“Not every secluded writer is the twin of the late Jack Kerouac,” Fritz said unamused.
“He’s not dead!” Zooey cried, “He’s just …missing.”
“That’s what you said about Elvis and Joe Strummer and Ian Curtis and Che Guevara,” Fritz said.
“I have my theories!” She said loudly.
“Can I please get back to the point?” Fritz questioned.
“Seriously,” he continued, “We meet in this crappy cafe joint across town and he meets me up at the bar. He was wearing these outrageous pants, they were bright red, like the ones David Bowie wore when he sang ‘Rebel Rebel’ on that show…what was it called?”
“Top Pops? I love that appearance he did!” Zooey chimed in.
“Yeah, that one,” Fritz said, “So, I hand over the manuscript…and he hands me some rusty mailbox key and leaves…”
“Did he say anything remotely interesting?” Zooey asked.
“He just told me an address for one of those packing and mailing joints where I could properly use the key,” Fritz answered.
“How dissapointing,” Zooey said, “If you had taken me along I could have gotten lots of good information out of him!”
“Like what?” Fritz said sternly.
“Like…a funny story, or a good place to get a cappachino, or possibly …why the hell the manuscript was so important?!” Zooey said. Fritz touseled his hair with his fingertips pondering.
“That might have been something to think about,” he said curiously, “But honestly, it wasn’t my business…”
“Eh, whatever, maybe by coincidence I’ll run into Mr. Ziggy Stardust some time on the bus, and I’ll ask him,” Zooey said.
Fritz glanced at her, “Please don’t go harrassing every person in the city that wears red pants.”
She laughed, “Who wears red pants anymore besides people like us?”.
“You have a point there…” Fritz said gazing out the window.
“There is still so much I want to know about this guy and why he gave this place to you so easily, but can we go to a more serious subject,” Zooey said as she swung her bag back and forth between her legs.
“Like what,” Fritz said curiously.
“Like coffee, and where I can get some NOW ,” Zooey said in a serious tone.
“Oh god, I forgot to caffienate you,” Fritz said with a laugh at Zooey’s unamused expression. Fritz grabbed Zooey by the arm and dragged her to the door and locked it behind them.