She was back today, so I went to talk to her. "Ugh," I said after taking a sip. "The coffee's really off today."
After a pause, she looked up at me. "I wouldn't know. This is tea."
"Oh, yeah? What kind?"
"I don't know, it has some big name... it has cinnamon in it though, I think."
"You don't know what's in it? Must be some kind of risk taker."
"Some kind, yeah," she nodded, then went back to her book.
I felt a little disappointed in myself as I kept sipping, having used up my one chance at a conversation.
"If you don't like it," she said suddenly, as if she had pondered the issue, "You should go complain."
"Nah," I said, "I don't wanna be a bother."
"So, you're not from around here," she said, picking up on my accent.
"No ma'am," I said with my flashiest southern smile.
"I'm guessing New York?" she said jokingly.
"I often get mistaken for Jerry Seinfeld on the phone," I said. She giggled.
"Alabama," I said. "Needed a nice change of scenery. How about you?"
"Not far, Vermont," she said. "I'm working on my Masters at UVM. Enjoying my summer break."
"Ah, Vermont, the land of maple syrup and... people from Vermont." I cleared my throat a bit, "What are you reading?"
"The new Michael Chabon. Well, new-ish. I swore I was going to get around to it someday."
"Of course. Do you know him?"
"No. And I've never read his work, either." That was supposed to be a joke. I recovered, though, and once she realized I was a pretty safe guy, I mentioned I was thinking of taking a walk and does she know the area?
"Sure, let me just text my friends to let them know who took me if I get kidnapped," she snapped a picture of me on her iPhone. I gave a big, possibly creepy thumb's up.
We stood up and I was surprised to see her produce a cane from behind her seat. She noticed my eyes widening, which was embarrassing.
"Ah, now you're scared. You don't know what to do about this and you're in too deep to back out," she smirked.
"Oh, I just... I've never seen... uh, what's up?" I stammered idiotically.
"I was in a car accident a few years ago," she said, "I need a knee replacement, but it's hard to find the time or the money. Don't worry, I can totally walk, I'm not a pity case."
"Good, um, as long as you're comfortable."
"I'm comfortable," she said. "Let's just avoid any obstacle courses, okay?"
As we walked along the pier, we talked about a few things, then I asked about her tattoos.
On one arm was "Take these broken wings and learn to fly," and on the other "You were only waiting for this moment to arrive"
"I was going through a Beatles phase a a while ago," she explained.
"Ah yes," I said, "George, Ringo, and those two other guys." She did a cute snort-laugh. "I bet you thought I was more of a Keith Urban guy."
"I don't know what to think of you," she said, "But I'm starting to figure it out."
She was staying at the Days Inn. I mentioned I was staying at the Trading Post, and she asked "Is it nice? I've been here a few times and I've never known anyone who stayed there."
"It's cozy. Very old-fashioned. Weird that they take singles, it seems like a more natural couples place, and that makes it a little creepy, I guess."
"Yeah, my situation isn't much better. I'm staying with couple friends, and having one room makes me the ultimate third wheel."
"Well, I'm happy to provide distraction so you don't have to go face that," I said.
I ended up getting her phone number and a vague agreement to "do something" tomorrow. I'm worried that after spending a whole afternoon together, I'll be all out of material. But the good thing about living like a total vagrant for half your twenties is that you end up with a lot of good stories.
The Inn has started to fill up... with some pretty random people. They all seem to know each other, too. I saw them having what appeared to be a gathering in the common room when I got back. When I passed through, they immediately quieted up and watched me until I got to my room.
And here I thought Maine was full of good down-home folks.