“Hello, Mr. Kadwalloper.” Tristan greeted. “Thank you for meeting me.”
“Good day dear boy,” Kadwalloper replied. “Are you now ready?”
“You mean… to do what’s necessary?” Tristan asked with a touch of mystery.
“To eat, boy. To eat!” Kadwalloper paused, “But yes, that too. In good time.”
“I am.” Tristan admitted.
The two men walked into the Deli. Hoping for some relief from the midday sun, Tristan was sorely mistaken when he entered the restaurant. The searing heat radiated off every object in the joint.
“Sorry fellas, a-c is busted.” the clerk complained with frizzy hair and a sweaty brow.
“That’s okay. We’ll just take some water with our menu’s.” Kadwalloper responded.
Kadwalloper wore a black suit. Before sitting, he slid the suit jacket off his shoulders, revealing a black shirt and a red neck tie, folded the coat lengthwise and placed it across his chair. The old man sat across from Tristan, smiling.
“You certainly dress to impress, sir.” Tristan observed. “I’m just in a t-shirt and shorts, and I’m dying in here. Aren’t you hot?”
“Oh, I’m used to the heat. And, in my business, keeping up appearances is crucial. People have a way of judging your appearance before they even get to know you. So, I make sure I exude confidence and trust with my exterior.” Kadwalloper explained.
“Just wave me over when you’re ready to order,” said the waiter passing out glasses of water and the menus.
The restaurant had only a few tables filled with customers. But the acoustics from the high tin ceilings carried the voices as if the place was packed. Tristan felt more at ease this way. He didn’t know what was going to come out of this meeting, but he knew he wanted to keep some anonymity to the entire thing.
“Rest assured, I am here for you, Tristan. To guide you. We two are kindred spirits well-versed in the matters of loss and upheaval. Why, the day I lost what was mine, it felt like the heavens had overturned.”
“And what was it you lost?” Tristan asked.
“The deepest, most unconditional love I had ever known.”
“Wow.” Tristan sighed. “I know what you mean. I mean I know exactly what you mean. I’ve felt it all. The world on its head, misdirection, and the last part”
“The last part? Do tell.”
“The longing to get it back. The will to do, as you say, what it necessary.”
“Good.” Kadwalloper whispered. “Good… you are indeed ready. Would you like to hear how I refused to let those feelings get me down? How I regained that which I had lost.”
“Yes, sir.” Tristan felt his heart beat increase. His palms were sweaty. His armpits were drenched. He wiped some sweat off his brow as his left leg began to shake nervously.
“Power. The secret is power. Power and control. I gained the power to control my surroundings. I succumbed to a higher purpose than just myself. I let the ideas I clung to rise up, and I redefined them. I thought that if I was unlovable before, I would make others see how enchanting I could be.”
The old man made sense. Tristan was trying to make himself enchanting with the book, so to speak. “So how do I do that effectively?”
“Put your trust in something other than yourself. Clearly you can’t do this on your own. If you could, you’d have succeeded by now.”
Tristan scoffed at Kadwalloper’s bluntness.
“See, you still see yourself doing all of this by yourself. You can’t. I am telling you right now. If you truly believe that you can do what is necessary, then you know you have to relinquish control.”
“Relinquish control to whom?” Tristan pushed.
“Why to me, dear boy.” Kadwalloper grinned. “Put your faith in me.”
“I’m not sure I know what you’re asking. You can get Emily to love me again?”
“I have ways, you see, of…”
“Whoa now.” Tristan snapped. “You better not hurt her.”
“Excuse me?” Kadwalloper bemoaned. “I ask you to confide in me. No. I ask you to lift this heavy burden from your shoulders and rest it on mine own, and you dare assume I will abuse such a bond? I bear the weight of your sins. I vow to make them right. And you sully that vow with such a remark?”
“I’m sorry. I meant no ill-will. I just …I just need this.”
“Trust in me.” Kadwalloper offered.
“I’m trying. I really am.” Tristan stuttered.
“May I offer a suggestion?” chimed Kadwalloper.
“Let me show you something. Let me give you a sign of my goodwill. I vow to you that your book will indeed be a success. I can make that happen for you. It won’t happen over-night. But when you see that I am telling the truth, you will know me. You will come back to me. And you will put your sole wish in my hands.”
“You can do that?”
“I will do that…for you, dear boy.” Kadwalloper promised. “Within the week, you shall receive a call. I know not from whom. But it will be in reference to your book. This will be the sign you need. Your books will be lauded across bookstores everywhere. People will connect with and cherish your storytelling. It will only be the beginning for you. For us! I know this. I believe this. Because, I believe in you. I have faith in you. Place yours in me.”
“I…” Tristan started.
“Don’t say anything now. See with your eyes what I can promise you. Then call me when you are ready. I’ll be waiting.”
The conversation broke when Kadwalloper’s phone started going off. He begged Tristan’s pardon as he glanced on the message on the screen.
“I’m terribly sorry, but I am needed right away. Please, take this, buy yourself lunch, and remember, you will get a phone call. You will get the exposure. You will get the praise. And, when you do, you will get that which you need.”
With that, Kadwalloper rose, grabbed his jacket, took some money from his clip and slid it towards Tristan. Tristan put his hand over the money. He did not watch Kadwalloper leave. He just sat there, thinking, hoping, wishing, starting to believe in himself, and more importantly, in this noble, sincere old man. He grabbed his phone and turned the volume all the way up. Then Tristan called the waiter over and ordered a Philly with all the fixings.
“Well, jeez, you seem happy sir.” The waiter observed.
“I am,” Tristan replied. “I actually am.”