A tall, broad-shouldered man let a blast of hot dry Santa Ana wind stir the conditioned air as he paused in the doorway. His well-worn jeans fit him like the skin on a grape. He strode in, past the texting teens and the chattering women with the unnaturally smooth faces, straight into my office – a table in the back where it’s dark and the Wi-Fi is strong as a double shot.
“Who wants to know?”
“I’m called De Sica.”
“What can I do for you, Mr. De Sica?”
“Not Mister. Just De Sica. I need information.”
“What kind of information?”
I slid a stiletto heel off the chair in front of me, kicking the Times Business section off the seat and tucking it into my briefcase. I’m a big fan of newspapers.
I nodded to De Sica to have a seat.
“Say, how did this java joint get its name? Is it the astronomical prices?”
“Hmm,” I said. “Astronomy…study of stars, plus colloquial term for dollars…Good guess, but no.
“Mr. Starbuck was the First Mate of the Pequod in Moby-Dick.” My Gunmetal Gray thumbnails clicked against my phone as I searched.
“Strangely, the only passage in the book connecting the character with coffee occurs in Chapter 81 in which the crew argues over whether a German sailor is waving a coffeepot or a lamp feeder. In Chapter 26, though, Melville introduces the character like this: ‘He was a long, earnest man, and though born on an icy coast, seemed well adapted to endure hot latitudes, his flesh being hard as twice-baked biscuit.’ Hardtack or biscotti? You decide.” I turned the screen toward him.
“But that’s not your real question; is it?”
[To be continued.]
Photo by J.B. Herman