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Irish pt. LIII


It's a coffee joint on 30th Street. The cross street is University.

North Park is an urban neighborhood. There's a mix of people. There's an independent book shop across the street.

It's four o'clock in the afternoon and the sun is beating down.

It's San Diego. The sun is always beating down. Otherwise, this little strip of 30th street could be in any college adjacent neighborhood practically anywhere.

Ramona, Pete Moss, YoYo and I find the coffee shop and walk in, get a table. Everybody orders coffee.

The ceiling is not very high. There is no music blaring.

"Where's Forbis?" says Ramona.

Pete checks his phone. "He's on his way. You want coffee?"

We get coffee. Ramona gets Chai.

"Should we play Scrabble?" I say.

"Yes, let's," says Ramona. She sips her Chai.

I get out the Scrabble board. I deal out the tile holders. I give the scorepad to Ramona. Ramona always has to be the one to keep score. Sometimes I think it's because she cheats. I shouldn't think that way about Ramona. But sometimes I do.

Then Pete looks up.

"Wil!" says Pete.

There's a tall, skinny guy standing by the table. He has a mane of gray hair. Some glasses perched on a very small nose.

"This is Wil Forbis," says Pete.

We rearrange the chairs around the table to make room for Wil. We have to borrow a chair from another table where a woman in Yoga clothes is tapping at her laptop. She is clearly curious at what is going on with this motley collection of people next to her.

"Hi," says Wil. He shakes hands all around. He has a very soft handshake. Like a guitarist who can't let his hands be roughed up lest they lose their deftness with the frets and strings.

"We were about to play Scrabble," I say.

"I see that," says Wil. "But only four at a time can play Scrabble and now there's five of us."

"That's OK. You play, Wil. I'll keep score," says Pete.

Ramona doesn't like that, but she is distracted. She studies this Forbis guy.

Everybody draws their tile. Ramona draws an 'A' but Forbis draws a blank. Forbis goes first.

Forbis Scrabbles right off the bat with 'claimed'.

This Forbis dude plays a mean game of Scrabble. He has a big vocabulary and he's not afraid to use it. But he also plays tenacious defense, blocking access to triple word scores and hiding big money letters where they can't be re-used.

Ramona gets really into the game.

"So..." says Forbis to Ramona. "I loved your book."

"Oh, thank you," says Ramona. She sips her tea.

"Have you checked my website?"

"Well...yeah," says Ramona.

YoYo plays 'cork' on a double word space.

"What do you think?"