This arti­cle is part 5 of 7 in the series The Cincinnati Favor

It was not dif­fi­cult to find a place for lunch and I set­tled on the Booksellers Fountain Square Café which offered not only lunch but a chance to browse through books before and after eat­ing.  The eatery was only half a block from the hotel, but I wan­dered around sev­er­al blocks before going in to eat, just to see what kind of busi­ness­es were in place in the area.  I have always tried to immerse myself in the local atmos­phere when­ev­er time has per­mit­ted, and perus­ing neigh­bor­hoods is a valu­able way to form back­up plans if needed.

However, since my time in Cincinnati would only be deal­ing with an ini­tial meet­ing to dis­cuss a com­mis­sion and to gar­ner infor­ma­tion, I did not real­ly see this as a recon­nais­sance, but more of a plea­sure jaunt and, after a light lunch and an hour or so brows­ing through books and mag­a­zines — pur­chas­ing the lat­est copy of Skeptic — I did an addi­tion­al cou­ple of hours of pedes­tri­an tour­ing before return­ing to the hotel at around 2:30.

Securing my room access card from the love­ly young lady still man­ning the recep­tion desk, I entered the ele­va­tor and exit­ed on the fourth floor.  While head­ing for my room, I also took care to locate the stair­ways.  This is a prac­tice I have done for as long as I can remem­ber, not only because of my work, but because I have always been cog­nizant of the need to have oth­er means of egress from an upper floor in the event of a fire.  It’s a prac­tice that every­one should indulge, for their own safety.

Easily find­ing room 419, I entered to find my bag rest­ing on the bed, obvi­ous­ly hav­ing been deliv­ered there by hotel staff. I set about to place the con­tents of the bag in the avail­able draw­ers and my toi­letry items in the bath­room, stow­ing my now-emp­ty bag in the clos­et, out of the way.

Settling into a com­fort­able lounge chair near the large win­dow of the room, and kick­ing off my shoes, I began to peruse the pages of the mag­a­zine I had pur­chased at the book­store.  It was only a brief time before the com­fort of the spa­cious chair had lulled me to sleep from which I awoke about an hour later.

It was now near­ly 4 p.m. so I decid­ed to fresh­en up a bit by show­er­ing before head­ing down­stairs to the lob­by where I had decid­ed to spend some time just watch­ing the hotel guests com­ing and going and wait­ing for the prop­er hour to head into the Palace restau­rant for dinner.

People-watch­ing can be a fas­ci­nat­ing diver­sion and the time passed swift­ly in the beau­ti­ful­ly dec­o­rat­ed and pala­tial lobby.

I wan­dered into the restau­rant at the not-very-for­mal hour of 6:30 and was quick­ly ush­ered to a table nor­mal­ly pre­pared for two and sit­u­at­ed adja­cent to the wall about halfway back in the room, where I seat­ed myself with a view toward the entrance. 

The restau­rant was not even half filled at this ear­ly hour and ser­vice was prompt and atten­tive as I ordered the prime skirt steak din­ner with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. I savored most of the first glass of wine almost before my meal had arrived and had a sec­ond glass to accom­pa­ny the meal, all of which I had fin­ished by eight o’clock. Declining the offer of dessert, I signed the check with my room num­ber and left the restau­rant and the hotel to find the near­by liquor store that I had passed ear­li­er that day. 

I was in search of a bot­tle of light wine that I could share with Mr. Wenger when he called on me the next day.  I select­ed a bot­tle of Chaddsford Sangri-La Sangria and head­ed back to the hotel to place the bot­tle in the small refrig­er­a­tor in the room to chill overnight.

I did­n’t know yet what time my guest would be call­ing, but I ful­ly expect­ed him to at least give me a call in the morn­ing to estab­lish a time.

Settling back into the com­fort­able chair, I once again opened my mag­a­zine and switched on the TV to see what news was avail­able, all of which turned out to be a bor­ing rep­e­ti­tion of ear­li­er news so I changed chan­nels to a music chan­nel and lis­tened to instru­men­tals from the 40s and 50s, strict­ly as back­ground music while I read.

I retired rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly, with a few lin­ger­ing thoughts about what tomor­row would bring and what Mr. Wenger would be like.

Having slept in lat­er than was nor­mal for me, I was awak­ened by the sound of the phone.  Rolling over, I lift­ed the hand­set from the cra­dle to hear “Good morn­ing, Mr. Tate,” in a cheer­ful voice from the oth­er end.

“Good morn­ing,” I replied, some­what sleepily.

“This is Walter Wenger, Mr. Tate.  I just want­ed to see if some­time this after­noon would be con­ve­nient to meet.”

“Of course, Mr. Wenger.  Would 2 o’clock be suit­able, or would you pre­fer to have lunch together?”

“I sup­pose it’s best that we meet pri­vate­ly in your room as opposed to being in a restau­rant some­where, don’t you agree?”

“Sure, but I could have lunch brought up to the room if you’d like.”

“Well, that would cer­tain­ly work.  Shall we say one o’clock?”

“That would be fine.  Is there any­thing spe­cial you’d like for lunch?  Any food aller­gies or dislikes?”

“Not real­ly, although I sel­dom have a large lunch, so per­haps some­thing light?”

“I’m sure I can find some­thing on the hotel menu.  I also have a bot­tle of san­gria.  I hope you’ll join me in try­ing it out after lunch.”

“That sounds fine.  I’ll see you at one.”  The con­nec­tion was ter­mi­nat­ed before I could respond, not in a petu­lant man­ner, but as an indi­ca­tion that Mr. Wenger was obvi­ous­ly a man of directness.

I head­ed to the show­er, anx­ious to com­plete my morn­ing rou­tine, get to the restau­rant for break­fast, allow house­keep­ing time to tidy up the suite, and make prepa­ra­tions for my lun­cheon meeting.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

Series Navigation« Michael Tate: Book 1, Chapter 3Michael Tate: Book 1, Chapter 5 »