WRIT LARGE: Ch 7, Part 2
In this part, Cathie extends the invitation for brunch to Leann and Lucas is relieved to see the chemistry between the two women. The conversation turns to what Cathie would do if she could drop everything and pursue her greatest passion.
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Cathie’s expression is unfathomable behind her signature spectacles. “Shall we?” She gestures to the internal door, frivolities over. “I’ve reserved a private room for brunch.”
I ask if Leann might accompany us; I value her literary opinion and as the two women are already acquainted it would be a bonus to receive Leann’s feedback from our meeting. Leann must realise that her invitation did not originate from Ms Wood; she collects her bag from beside the armchair and says, “I completely understand if you wish to proceed in private,” in such a way that Cathie would be guaranteed to extend the invite.
“Of course, you are more than welcome,” says Cathie. She has only her phone as an accessory and she leads the way, nodding to the concierge to indicate that we are ready for our meeting to commence.
When we are seated in the room, Leann asks what I thought of Universal Studios. I tell her that it is certainly one way of forgetting my age and distracting myself from work. I add that I was a little saddened by the ‘extras’ provided to create an authentic experience for the boys albeit they were unfazed.
“Children are more resilient than you realise,” says Leann. “In time, the boys will recall the experience with eyes that believed they saw many people having as much fun as themselves at the theme park. It is the thrill that will linger, not the passers-by.”
“So,” Cathie sits back in her seat, legs crossed and glances up from her phone. “The biography.” Nothing like getting straight to the crux of the meeting. “Bernard never mentioned his story being adapted for a Netflix biopic.”
“If I know Bernard,” says Leann, ever tactful, “he will be waiting until everything is finalised before he makes it common knowledge.”
“And what would that involve exactly?” Cathie addresses me. “I wouldn’t have had you down for being involved in something so …”
She seems to be searching for an inoffensive way of finishing the sentence, so I place my laptop neatly on the table, unopened, with my phone square in the centre, and inform her that it isn’t a topic that has been directly discussed with Bernard himself, it was simply a – in Olivia’s own words – lightbulb moment and a way of reaching people who have little interest in reading.
“It is extremely current,” says Cathie. “How would you go about adapting a book for a series? It would take screenwriters, I’m assuming, and the author’s involvement as well as the subject?”
I suggest that we should take this project one step at a time; it would be unwise to climb the highest diving board before the pool is full.
Leann shoots a glance at me and I respond with a brief shake of my head. Cathie Wood appears to have more than a passing interest in the suggestion; and I am now faced with the dilemma of not only asking her to trust Leann with her life story, but of trying to dissuade her from beginning the search for a suitable actor to portray her in a Netflix Original.
I suggest that we should take this project one step at a time; it would be unwise to climb the highest diving board before the pool is full. I ask if we can use this time instead, to discuss how she envisages her biography – has she considered whether she would like to focus on her business acumen or her private life; are there specific events that she would particularly wish to include? Even as I am speaking, I realise that with Bernard I was able to determine which questions would prompt the answers I was searching for with minimal effort, but with Cathie … I find her unfathomable, as though I am speaking to her from behind a bank teller’s window, and that maybe this is a reflection on me. It is a sobering thought.
“I think what Lucas would like to know,” says Leann, “is what do you want to achieve from your biography? And we’re not looking for one of those generic responses such as, to be respected. I think most people aspire to that in their lifetime without having a biography written about them.” She is smiling at Cathie as though they are lifelong friends who have bumped into each other in a local café and are discussing their jobs and families over a latte and a blueberry muffin.
“I guess, I want people to know who I am.”
My chest swells and I feel my shoulders relaxing a little again. She might not know it yet, but Leann is perfect for this project.
“I guess,” – Cathie sits forward and spreads her hands on the table, fingernails neat and even, two simple rings, one expensive but functional watch – “I want people to know who I am.”
Leann nods thoughtfully. “Tell us something about you that might give us an insight, something that few people know.” Cathie’s eyes narrow behind her glasses. “For example,” Leann prompts, “your favourite movie, books you have read more than once. Is there something that you always look for when you go on holiday? My niece has a collection of magnets from all around the world; she will not leave a town or city without one. Lucas here carries a disposable camera around with him.” Leann smiles at me then. I elaborate that it is a childhood obsession that I have never abandoned and one which probably reveals that I’m still a little boy at heart.
Cathie’s eyes flicker between the two of us and then she blurts out, “I have a geisha doll at home. She was a present from my mom for my tenth birthday.” She blinks several times as if she is reimagining the receiving of the gift. “I had seen her in a store window. I thought she was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen, and it was all I wanted for my birthday. I remember being desperate to have her, praying that I would wake up to find her wrapped with a pink ribbon. She wears a kimono made from real silk, and in her hand, she carries a small hour-glass shaped drum. She is so delicate I have to clean her with a cotton bud.” She smiles at us and then chews her bottom lip. “My family think she is ugly, but you know, I still love that geisha.”
Leann is listening so intently I am almost waiting for her to applaud. Instead, she says, “This is exactly the kind of information that will bare your soul to your readers. We should even include some pictures in the book. Have you ever been to the Gion district of Kyoto?”
Cathie shakes her head. “No, I have been to Japan several times, but always on business and there is never any time included in my schedule for regular sightseeing. You know,” she taps her fingers on the table as though playing the piano, “if I could choose only one more place to visit in my lifetime, I think that I would go to Japan and attend a formal tea-ritual with a geisha. A real geisha I mean. There are not many left and I’ve done a fair bit of research, and so … yes …” her words trail off as if she has suddenly realised that she has said too much.
I have done some research on the subject too and understand that a geisha is a dedicated and disciplined performer; I wonder if this is partly the attraction and whether Cathie feels that she can relate to the life of a geisha in her own way.
This time, Leann does clap. “Oh, I am sure this is something that could be arranged, and I would be delighted to attend with you.”
Out of curiosity, I ask Cathie what she would do if she attended her tea-ritual – with Leann – and realised that peace is the one thing she desires above all else, as I have heard that the ritual itself is said to be serene and intensely sensual.
Cathie stares at the space above my head for several moments before responding. “Then I would step down and breed dogs … or horses … or chickens.” She smiles at us both then as if surprised by her own statement.
I comment that I would love to own a ranch, be surrounded by dogs and horses, and learn to lasso, but again that is the child in me still trying to break out. I wish I could tell Leann how happy I am with the way the meeting is going. I get the feeling that Cathie is also satisfied with the discussion so far, I only hope that she won’t be disappointed when I suggest Leann as the person most suited to write her story.