Sunday, June 23, 2013

155. Beginnings

C.W. has decided he is going to write a book.

“I read the draft of yours,” he said. “Not bad.”

“Thanks,” I said. “It inspired you?”

“Not really. But I figured if you could do it, anyone could.”

“You understand the concept of ‘damning with faint praise,’ I see.”

“Whatever,” he said. He was the spitting image of William Faulkner. His dark eyes flashed. “You like sex?” We were sitting in the living room and the question caught me off guard.

“Why do you ask?”

“Seems to work well,” He opened a briefcase and took out a file folder, pipe, and lighter. He handed me the folder and started to light the pipe.

“Uh,” I said. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Just read,” he said, as smoke filled the room.

I read the first page.

“If you want to know why I killed the son of a bitch, we may have to go back further than you want. At least it was further than Beth wanted to go when I told her about it. But then Beth was always the impatient type. I remember she would arch her neck just when I got into the short strokes, and say, ‘Be still for a second.’ Let me move a muscle then and she would light in screaming and be done.

But then, of course, that a lot to do with it. Best friend’s wife or not, she was worth it.”

It ended there and I looked over at him. “Not bad,” I said. “What happens then?”

“A car chase,” he said, puffing away.

“A car chase? What does that have to do with it?”

“Nothing,” he said. “But I intend to expand my profits by selling the screen rights. And you know that any movie produced in your country must have its plot designed around …”

“A car chase.”

“Correct,” he said as he expelled a cloud of smoke.

“What’s that I smell?” A voice from the kitchen interrupted us.

“Men at work,” C.W. said. “Go back to your cooking.”

“Don’t make me have to come in there.”

He ignored her, but quit puffing on the pipe. “So what do you think?”

I was stuck on the car chase. “So what happens?”

“The narrator chases the bad guy for several chapters, probably two-thirds of the length of the movie version.”

“Then kills the bad guy?”

“Oh no, the bad guy gets his pony-tail caught in a street light and it breaks his neck.”

“And the hero gets back to the woman?”

“No, actually he becomes the mob boss and spends the rest of his life writing poetry.”

“This all sounds a little familiar,” I said.

“Then try the next one.”

I laid the first sheet aside and picked up the second.

“Arthur Crawford was a cautious man, and that probably saved his life. As a young boy, he read that some famous Texas Ranger never entered a room all at once, but stopped halfway through the door and looked both ways before committing. If Arthur hadn’t done that this time, the bullet would have gone in one ear and out the other.”

“Hmm,” I said. “Interesting.”

“Keep reading,” he said.

“He remembered the first time a bullet had come that close. He was thirteen and hunting with Eddie Joe Stubblefield when a rabbit ran across their path. Eddie Joe was quicker on the draw and fired first. Eddie Joe remembered his dad, who grew up poor and would tell him of hunting on frosty mornings on the Saline River bottoms. His companion, a mixed-breed mongrel, would trot alongside him, his ears flopping in the sharp air. One morning they …”

My next work will be set in a nation that has been
subjugated by a foreign power. The trouble occurs when
a roving band of hippies starts to foment revolution.
Puerto Rico should be a good location. - C.W.
“Uh, C.W., I said, looking up.

“Shhh,” he said dreamily. “Keep going.”

“You have a flashback within a flashback within a flashback.”

“Oh,” they work,” he said. “Ask any of your popular writers.”

I thought. “Yeah, well, I guess you’re right.”

“I still smell it,” came the voice from the next room”

C.W. looked toward me. “Let’s get drunk,” he said. “Or would you like to fight?”

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