Part V - Chapter 21 - The Erratic Attorney

San Francisco, CA

After a full night of reviewing the journal, Ellie and Pete were having coffee at the bar. At first Pete was terrified about staying at the hotel as he had already been abducted once from his room and the bracelet had transported him from the bar. Ellie pulled out a news paper with a story about how Pete and Ellie had a public fight, as witnessed by Norm, and had been thrown out. The article ended by stating, "Mr. Hutter was last seen leaving town with all of his belongings. We don't know where he's headed but we can certainly say, 'Good riddance!'"

Pete was not happy by the 'good riddance' bit, but Ellie had insisted that she had purposefully pressed the journalist to publish that note. She had felt that it would further hide Pete's presence in San Francisco from the future Charles. While Pete appreciated her argument, he still felt the ending was too harsh.

Pete was stretching his shoulders when Norm wandered in to sit at his normal stool and order his morning beer. What surprised Pete was the figure who stumbled in behind Norm. It was none other than Socrates Poole. Pete stifled a smile while musing, "The poster boy for stoic behavior and clean living was now imbibing beer with the dawn? How far the mighty have fallen! "

Pete's glee at Socrates' misfortune was short lived as Pete noticed the stack of newspapers that the lawyer was carrying in. Pete noticed that the papers looked a crumpled mess as though they had already been opened, read, and haphazardly refolded. Socrates took a table in the center of the room with his back to the bar and began spreading out the newspapers. Ellie approached Socrates with a cup of coffee as Pete slid the journal and papers behind the bar and out of sight from Socrates. Pete kept his head low and his shoulders hunched in case Socrates were to put two-and-two together.

"Hey-a Socrates," began Ellie. "Don't you have an office that you can use for, well, whatever this is?"

"Listen, there is something about being in a place that smells of coffee that gets the creative process going," Socrates rushed to explain. He seemed to be in a manic state or that he had already had a pot of coffee too many as he sped out the words. And then without warning, Socrates stopped and looked around the bar with an odd euphoric glaze. "Maybe this is my coming thing. A place to break out of my stuffy environment to engage in a caffeinated world full of like-minded and free willed people. Almost like a Paris café yet more snooty with tattooed college students serving hot beverages while wearing fisherman caps and saying nonsensical Italian words like 'Venti' or 'Grande.'"

Pete tried to hide his laughter at the clearly sleep deprived Socrates and in a quiet voice that only Norm could hear muttered, "Truly a surprising epiphany of a stuffed shirt that has clearly lost its mind."

Norm and Pete's chuckles were getting hard to contain as they listened to Socrates' continued ravings. Ellie shot them her most deadly look before placing the coffee cup in front of Socrates. However, after several minutes of hearing the poor lawyer's mutterings and watching more disheveled newspapers fall to the floor, she switched to pouring milk into his cup instead of coffee. Surprisingly, Socrates continued to sip from the cup while failing to notice the change in beverage as he was too engrossed in his work.

When Ellie joined Pete and Norm back at the bar, Pete whispered, 'What the hell is he doing?"

"Looking for you," Ellie whispered back.

"If only he looked up," laughed Pete.

"Pete, that's not funny! I'm worried about him!" exclaimed Ellie, her voice barely above a whisper.

At that moment, a man in his late 30s arrived with a beautiful woman on his arm.

"Jack! Clara!" called Ellie as she momentarily forgot all about Socrates and ran to the couple to throw her arms around them.

"Ellie, my favorite bartending girl," smiled the man. He was average height with a strong chin and dark unkept hair. The woman on his arm was by no means thin but she wore her clothes and walked in a way that ensured all could admire her best curves.

Ellie led the couple further into the bar but Jack paused by Norm. He shook the bar fly's hand as he exclaimed, "Norm! Have you moved an inch since I left San Francisco?"

"Hello, Jack," laughed Norm, unphased by the comment. "What brings you back? I thought you were all settled into your ranch. What was it called, Wolves?"

"Wolf House," correct Clara.

"You know, me and Clara! We can't stay still for too long," but Jack's laughter caught in his throat as he watched the manic Socrates continue his display of research and muttering to himself. Jack leaned his back against the bar and stared at Socrates. The only person not entranced by Socrates was Clara who sat at the bar and watched Ellie curiously instead of Socrates.

When Socrates failed to notice that most of the bar was silently staring at him, Jack whispered over his shoulder to Ellie, "Hey, what's he on?"

Ellie had moved around the bar and started pouring coffee cups for the new arrivals. "He's not on anything," she whispered. "Just lack of sleep."

"Well, we can't have that," Jack stated as he straightened up. He walked over to Socrates and held out his hand, "Excuse me, do you mind removing your glasses?"

Socrates looked up in a hazy confusion at the man in front of him. He seemed about to question the relevancy of a stranger asking him to remove his glasses but he acquiesced out of mental exhaustion or confusion. And held them out to Jack.

"Thank you," Jack stated as he gave a slight bow and placed the glasses on the table. Socrates watched his glasses now sitting on the table with fascination and failed to notice that Jack had quietly moved around the lawyer and moments later had the man in a choke hold.

"Stop! You'll strangle him!" screamed Ellie.

Jack laughed and said, "Relax Ellie! I know what I'm doing. I'm not going to strangle him. Just help him pass out."

Within moments, Socrates had slumped back against Jack's chest. "Excuse me, could you help me?" Jack called to Pete. Within moments the two had picked up Socrates and began to move haphazardly towards the bar without any final destination in mind.

"You can put him in my room," called Ellie.

"It's over here," grunted Pete as he started to move backwards into the direction of Ellie's room.

"How scandalous!" giggled Clara as she eyed Ellie meaningfully.

"Not like that," Ellie responded while rolling her eyes and moving from around the bar to pick up Socrates' papers and organize them into piles on the table for when he woke back up. Clara gave her an unconvinced stare before insisting, "Maybe not him but someone's serviced you recently."

Just as Pete and Jack turned the corner towards Ellie's room, he caught Ellie's face turn bright red. The men left the unconscious Socrates, shoes and all, to sleep off the exhausted mania. As they left the room, Pete asked, "Why did you ask him to remove his glasses?"

"I can't hit a man with glasses on. That just seems unfair."

They had just turned the corner and were approaching the bar when Jack turned to Pete good naturedly and held out his hand, "Thank you much! I don't believe that we were introduced. The name is Jack London. I don't think that I caught your name?"

Pete shook Jack's hand but recognized the name as a journalist and novelist. Pete looked past Jack and smiled at Ellie before answering, "Depends on who you ask, some people folks refer to me as Wild Joe. The given name is Joe."

"Well, thank you, Joe," Jack said as he slapped Pete on the back and called over to Ellie, "How about two beers for Joe and myself?"

"Jack, isn't it a bit early for beer?" Clara asked impishly.

"Float a cornflake in it," called out Norm. "Breakfast of champions!"

Ellie rolled her eyes but poured beers for each member of the bar's occupants, including herself.

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