Gentle reader, there is one aspect in which I am luckier than you. I have a sister who lives in Portland, Oregon. Perhaps you are not conscious of a gaping hole in your life in this regard, but once you decide to write a novel set in Portland, you will keenly feel your need. Should such an occasion arise, give me a call. I know a guy.
Portland is considered a sister city of Austin because we share a certain level of weirdness, if of somewhat different flavors. After all, Austin is in Texas, and there’s no cure for that.
After a forced march across the Continental Divide, Hensley rolls into Portland in the afternoon and finds himself in need of a wardrobe adjustment to allow for the difference in climate. As is his custom, he seeks out a Goodwill store. Net research provided the proper location but nothing less than location scouting could have revealed the nature of that store.
Oddly enough, it smells like every other Goodwill store I’ve encountered, but there the similarity ended. Upscale knick knacks. A vase with artistically arranged stark branches. Brand new Pendleton shirts priced at $30. It became clear I would have to do a bit of editing on that scene.
Thus provisioned, Hensley sought out one of his old haunts, the Virginia Cafe. This establishment has been in continuous operation since before Prohibition, and so Hensley felt confident as he approached the corner of Park and Morrison. Both he and I were in for a surprise upon arriving at our destination.
Based on net research, I expected to find a 35-story office building at that location, and I did. However net research did not reveal that it was under construction, and therefore Hensley would not have been able to inquire inside for the new location of the Virginia Cafe.
I unexpectedly found myself in Hensley’s shoes, staring in confusion at this location and wondering what had happened. I needed to know what this corner look like in 2013. And in the next few moments the most amazing aspect of location scouting emerged.
Before I could pop into a shop and inquire into the history of the development on this corner and how it looked two years prior, a man in a three-piece suit and a red power tie crossed the street and greeted my sister. As it turned out they went to the same church. When we were introduced, I said “Glen, you might be able to help me out. I have a question about this building.”
He glanced at the building and turned back to me. “This is the most recent acquisition in my property management portfolio. What do you need to know?” Within a few minutes I had everything I needed to complete the scene.
Thus enlightened, we proceeded to the new location of the Virginia Cafe just two doors north of the Goodwill store, but it took me much longer to recover from this amazing chance encounter.
The Virginian Cafe is a charming little bistro with a fairly pedestrian menu. Based on web research I had Hensley order the London Broil, but I asked the waitress for the most popular item and she directed me to the club sandwich. I found it typical of the breed, if of somewhat ambitious elevation. I had the spicy tater tots, my sister had the spicy fries. They were spicy. Note the coveted jacket from Goodwill.
Having experienced our limit for fortuitous encounters, we retired the field to prepare ourselves for the daunting Friday that Hensley was to face.