Meeting Across The River

Luke Haines
5 min readAug 27, 2021

I arrived fashonably late to the restaurant. If being late is still fashionable. Maybe the new trend amongst the youth is to arrive three days early. I wouldn’t know. But I suspected that turning up slightly behind the curve is just one of those things that never goes out of style, and either way, people expect writers to behave a certain way.

The man I’d been sent to meet had already been seated, but he bounced to his feet, beaming and eager, as I made my way across to him. He could have been twenty five. Hell, he could have been twelve years old and tall. Past a certain point in life, you lose the ability to judge the age of anyone accurately. Everybody falls under the banner headings of “really old,” “about my age” or “just out of grade school.”

This guy was just out of grade school. I got the impression that this was his first real job, working for an online publisher and trying to schmooze writers like me into working for them.

“It’s so great to meet you,” he gushed, pumping my hand. “I know, I know, you must think I say that to every writer, and I do, but seriously this is a real privilege.”

I waved it away, awkwardly. Writers do what they do, in my experience, out of some deep sense of loneliness and a need to be heard, but the writing disease has a different pathology to the acting or music diseases. Writers want to be paid, but we don’t need to be seen. We don’t need our asses kissed, it’s why we work from little rooms in our houses and nobody really knows what we look like. Or maybe it’s because once the public knew what James Patterson looked like they made a law that the rest of us should stay indoors.

We lowered ourselves into our seats and the kid summoned a waiter. I ordered a whiskey, partly as a writerly affectation and partly out of a drink problem that I continued to tell myself was partly just a writerly affectation.

“So. Your publication wants me to write a column?” I asked. No sense beating around the bush.

“We would be so thrilled,” the kid said, earnestly. “Honestly, a name like yours? It would be a huge get for us. We’re only a small operation for now, but, THE Luke Haines? Man… That piece you wrote about motocross? I shared the shit out of that. Even talked about it out loud to people.”

I may have actually blushed a little. That was a pretty deep cut, a piece from way back that had earned me a fair few likes on…

Luke Haines

Former bartender, amateur writer, based in the UK.