I tried sitting in the Walmart McD's today, just people watching while I scratched out a few notes for the current manuscript. It's just not the same without Bill the Greeter there, his voice booming over everything else. I miss the little kids getting excited over the stickers he handed out, and the sudden smiles he managed to bring out of people.

Or maybe it was the weather; not as many people wandering over to Walmart with it so wet and cold outside, and those who were there just weren't happy about it. I gave up and headed over to Borders, where there are plenty of people but fewer smiles and little kids bouncing up and down excitedly.

Alex wasn't there; his little corner of the coffee shop was quiet. Hell, the whole place was quiet and for the first ten minutes I was the only one there hogging table space. I sat where I could see out into the store, but the people who walked past were few and far between.

Eventually there was a guy named Mark; I know his name because he announced it quite loudly when he answered his cell phone. "Hi, this is Mark!" I'm pretty sure the people at the cash registers up front heard him, too. Mark was happy and enthusiastic until receiving the news that he doesn't have enough equity in his house to refinance. I know this only because he shouted it across the cafe to his mother.

It was nice that he had a date with his Mom, though. He bought her hot chocolate and a Giant Rice Krispie treat, the sight of which caused me a major case of the munchies (to which I did not cave, thank you very much, but I still want one, and if I still want one tomorrow I might go ahead and get one.) Mom fretted over his news, he brushed it off as no big deal, he's not about to lose the house, he only wanted a better rate.

They were still there an hour later, when a women with a small child in stroller came in. I couldn't really see them, but I could hear the munchkin singing "cookie, cookie, cookie" over and over, and I imagined he was pointing to the display case, loaded with about 13 million calories of baked and confectionery temptations.

I managed to get about 45 pages into the third draft of the book; it wasn't nearly as fun, though, without as many people to distract me from the pretentiousness of creating some clearly flawed characters.

It was better than helping a little old lady get topless, so I'll take what I can get.

I wonder if she's still there in the changing room, waiting for someone to help her get redressed...

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