“To, like, begin with,” he said, “this case, like, should never have come to trial.”
“Please be quiet,” he said. “I’m trying to concentrate.” He looked off into space, then back at my computer. He spoke as he began to type. “The state, like, hasn’t proven that Tom Robinson, like, dissed Mayella Ewell in any way. I’m, like, LMAO, all the time. She’s, like ‘He raped me.’ He’s like ‘She wanted to get down.’ I’m like ‘Bo … ring,’ The whole thing was totally un-awesome.”
My head was spinning. “C.W.,” I said, this time loudly enough to get his attention. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Updating,’ he said. “Why?”
“What are you updating?”
“That book by Harper Lee, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ Can’t you tell?”
“Yes. Now please be quiet and let me think.”
“Why would you update a classic?”
“Haven’t you heard?”
“She—Harper Lee—is going to publish another novel.”
“I heard. But what does that have to do with you?”
“Renewed interest,” he said.
Renewed interest in what?”
“Her first novel.”
“And you are …?”
“Updating it for modern consumption by young people.”
“What on earth for?”
He sighed and looked at me with his arms folded. “Do you recall how we sometimes take walks around the park across the street and pass by the Law School campus?”
“And we listen to the law students converse?”
“Do any of them sound like Atticus Finch?”
You know, he had a point. “Not really,” I said.
“In exact terms; without vagueness.”
“We need to update the dialogue to get young people interested. We’ll publish the new version and get rich.”
I was beginning to understand. “You want to publish an updated version of an American treasure?”
“It can’t fail. I call my new company ‘Modern Phonetics,’ or ‘Mo-Pho’ for short.”
“Uh, C.W. …” I said.
“Can’t talk now,” he said. “Busy.” He turned back to the computer and resumed his dialogue.
“Now, like, what did she do? She tempted an African American. She was, like, white and she tempted an African American. She did something that in our society is a real no-no: She kissed a gansta. Not, like, wow, an old uncle, but, hello-o, a strong, young African-American man. Big no-no.” He stared away again and returned. “She couldn’t even, like, text her friends that it was bitchin. He couldn’t tell anyone it was awesome.”
“C.W.,” I said in my firmest voice.
He ignored me and continued talking to himself. “And, like, a quiet, humble, respectable oreo, who, like, had the unmitigated TEMERITY to feel sorry for a white woman, has had to put his word against, like, two white peoples. Bummer. The defendant is, like, not guilty. But somebody in this courtroom is. What …ever. Du uh.”
I couldn’t stand it anymore. “Stop, stop, stop,” I said.
He said, “What?”
“This is insane.”
“You can’t simply re-write published books.”
“Not even so young people can understand them?”
“Not for any reason.”
“They re-write the Bible all the time.”
“Uh,” I said. “That’s different.”
“Well they shouldn’t.”
He pursed his lips and said. “Well at least hear my new ending.” Before I could respond, he grabbed a sheet from the table and read, “Atticus would, like, be there all night, and he would, like, be there when Jem waked up in the morning ... awesome."
|Snazz up his dialogue a bit and you will|
have a real hero. - C.W.
I hung my head.
He looked at me in a quizzical manner. “And?”
“I’m afraid,” I said. “Very afraid.”
“That it will flop?”
“No, that it will be a mega-hit.”
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