The Kingmaker

Fido’s in Hillsboro Village is full of aging hipsters, sleepy-eyed grad students, and young families who’ve stumbled over from the children’s hospital in a haze of hunger and worry.

There are only a few people in line ahead of us, and when we approach the counter to order our breakfast, I can’t be sure, but I think I see a hint of recognition pass over our barrista’s face. If she knows the man I’m with, she does a good job of keeping it from him.

He gets a breakfast burrito and an elaborate drink involving honey. I get a bagel and some fruit.

A table opens up right before we need it and I’m immediately suspicious. I search the faces of the people at the surrounding tables, but I’m met with the visages of people who appear to be lost in their own thoughts.

I remind myself to be cautious and I sit down.

“Aren’t you going to get some coffee?” He asks. He’s an imposing figure, with a pleasant smile and a smooth almost graceful way about him. I take a deep breath and make some joke about having only been there a couple of times before. “Go ahead,” he smiles. “Steal some.”

I’m pretty sure he’s joking, but when I go up to the counter, they have a cup ready for me. A friendly girl with dark eyes hands it over to me and tells met to go ahead. She won’t take my money.

I pick the coffee called Mud. I fill my cup and sit down.

Most folks will tell you that the blogging powerhouse in Nashville is Mr. Roboto, a veritable Blogfather, if you will. Most folks are wrong.

The real power behind the throne, the man they call the Kingmaker, is the amiable pleasant man before me. A man they say is responsible for the untimely end of at least one prominent Nashville blog. I know if I’m going to have any success in this town, I’ve got to get the blessing of the Kingmaker.

I begin. I tell him about how Tiny Cat Pants started out small, as just a way for me to keep from emailing the same boring crap to all my friends and how one day I found myself with a lot of readers. He nods and says he’s seen me around in places he didn’t expect.

I can’t tell if that’s good or if he’s angry that I’ve expanded so quickly before coming to find him. I keep talking.

He picks up the camera he’s had sitting on the table and begins to snap pictures. I’m scared shitless, but I try not to show it. I’ve heard the rumors about the wall of bloggers in that room in his house, about how he sits in his big chair and points to one after another asking his dog, “Is this the one we do in today? Is this the one we do in today?” No one is sure what signal the dog gives, but whatever it is, there’s no reprieve.

We chat pleasantly for a long time and I start to relax. He smiles conspiratorially at me and asks, “So, do you think Jon Jackson is always at that Applebee’s?”

And, for a minute, I forget who I’m with. I smile back and say, “Oh, sure.” And there it is. I slap my hand over my mouth, but it’s too late. The Kingmaker leans back in his chair and looks over his shoulder. A small girl starts crying and a family gets up to leave.

“There,” he says, “That was easy enough. Welcome to the big leagues, B.”

I gather my things together and rush out. I’ve got my blessing–a link at Nashville is Talking and a link at Pith in the Wind–but at what cost? At what cost?

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Of Course There’s No Monster in the Butcher’s Closet

The oldest nephew claimed he could not sleep because of the noises coming from the Butcher’s closet. Not the noises from the TV, which was so loud that I had to call the Butcher on the phone and tell him to turn it down. Not the noises from the dog, who was making every bark she could think of to alert us to the arrival of the recalcitrant brother. But the closet.

The problem is, and the reason the men in the house had no sympathy for him is, that the Butcher’s closet is full of crap and the space in front of the Butcher’s closet is packed with more crap. If there’s anything in there, it’s died from lack of food.

Fine, of course he should just lay down and go to sleep. But the fact was, I was already laying down and going to sleep, and so his constant, “Daddy, there’s a noise in the closet” and the return holler of “No there isn’t. Now go lay down.” was keeping me awake.

So, I went in there with my wiggly dog for protection, and sat down on the bed and listened. And sure enough, after a few seconds of sitting there quietly, I could indeed here a strange ass noise coming from near the closet.

“Nephew,” I explained, “the interstate is right out my window. And right out the Butcher’s window, across the railroad tracks, is a huge metal building. What you’re hearing is the sound of large trucks rolling by echoing off the building in some weird way, and coming in that window.”

I felt like a genius. Of course, his father had the brilliant idea of turning the bathroom fan on so that the nephew couldn’t hear the noise, which actually let him fall to sleep, but I figured out what it was!

Ha, I think, maybe, that’s a difference between my brother and I. I come up with explanations that let me live with the things that bother me. He comes up with ways of covering them up so he doesn’t have to pay attention to them.

Still, I must tell you that, upon seeing that little boy sleeping in the Butcher’s bed with his butt all up in the air and his legs tucked up under him, my uterus made a noise–“awlwuwlwulw,” or something similar–which means, I think, in uterine “I could coax something like that into being for you” and though my heart said, “Holy shit, that’d be fucking awesome,” it was my brain who said “One, you already have a house full of things that depend on you. Two, do you not read your own writing? And three, you’re going to trust an organ that looks like a weird space ship? Has anyone ever made a horror movie about the uterus? No, I don’t think so. Stick with me, B. Make some wise choices for once.”