"We’re not having this fight. Was I paying attention? No. I wasn’t. I’m sorry your day sucked, but this novel isn’t going to finish itself. It wouldn’t be mine if it did. Is it more important than you? Of fucking course not. You are more important in the long term. That’s why it’s going to be finished by July, while you and I are death-do-us-part. It is more important in the tonight-term. Is your job more important than me? Probably not, but you still spent nine hours at it today instead of with me. And I’m sorry your manager is a bitch suffering from permanent hot flashes. But the novel is my job. My second job, with zany hours. So sometimes I will stare through you and into space when you’re telling me about your day. Much like you’re staring through me now. Just realize that if you make me sleep on the couch tonight, it’ll be with the pad and pen!"
This is somewhere between a writing prompt and a challenge. I'm not sure how many people will try it for #fridayflash - but if you do, please tell me and link back to this post. If we get a few, I'll link them all together in a nexus post and we can see what directions everyone took it. It was the genesis for Possible Origins for Him. 12.
Make me regret the death of a horrible person based on some relationship he/she had to a living character.
“We damn sure can't show Grandpa any of our work. What would we show? He thinks TV is the Devil. My brother is a stand-up comedian who can't go three sentences without being offensive. What the fuck can we share?”
“Well, there's your sister.”
“She's unemployed. She's the last one who wants to talk about anything. All she does is search ads and call people who say 'No.' Grandpa does not need to hear about the economy shoving her soul in a trash compactor.”
“And I'm thinking, what job could I get that he'd like?”
“You're going to get a second job to impress him? He's only going to be here for, like, a week.”
“I’m going damn sure make one up. If I can write a teleplay, I fucking sure can make up talk about a fictional job.”
“This is how ulcers happen.”
“What’s a good job? What could work? Flipping burgers? Work on cars? He’d look down on it.”
“Should have become an astronaut. You wanted to be an astronaut when you were a kid.”
“He thinks the moonlanding was fake anyway.”
“A fireman? You wanted to be a fireman when you were six.”
“He’ll want to go to the firehouse to meet my buddies.”
“Say you’re busy. Too women on fire. It’s an excuse to never come home.”
“You could get a cat out of a tree in front of him.”
“At which point he’d complain that I was wasting my time.”
“He’d get nervous that I was going to be shot. Same with the military.”
“Not all military jobs get you shot at.”
“I know it. He hated my dad just going into the army as a mechanic.”
“That’s the degree of difficuly we have here.”
“No, no. You’re a spy. Don’t say another word. You’re totally safe so long as not another word is spoken.”
“Unless he wants to get you killed, he’ll just watch TV.”
“Except, what’s my cover?”
“I never thought I’d actually be happy that my grandparents were dead.”
This monologue first ran in 2006. Max Cantor recently sent me his audio reading of it, which I simply had to share. Since most current readers haven't seen Bea Arthur: A Novel, I'm presenting both the original text and Max's reading today.
Don't you want to slap authors who add " : A Novel" after their titles?
Hearts: A Novel.
Orchard: A Novel.
Who are you helping here? The guy who restocks the shelves? It's sitting next to six hundred other novels. It's not my fault your horribly unoriginal cover doesn't convey what kind of book it is (it's probably a picture of a building, a road, an empty beach or a photo of you, isn't it?). It's a book in the Fiction section! Picking the thing up and flipping through it, which I'll have to do anyway if I'm going to buy it, will tell me if it's an anthology or a picaresque.
If you shaped the book, say, like the Himalayas, disguising the pages as 1,000 meter-tall sheets of ice and rock, then, then I might need you to label it " : A Novel." I'd be quite surprised. I'd probably buy two, for stocking stuffers. But not your 250-page paperback of My Doves: A Novel in the middle of the Fiction section.
It doesn't even say, "Checkpoint: A Good Novel," or, "Company: A Novel That Has Some Shortcomings, But There's a Really Clever Ending." Even culinary anti-artists like candy companies put more on their bags than, "Oreos: A Cookie." Given, they do have a more compelling product than most literary authors, but still. It's the principle of the thing, and novels are about the principle of the thing. How am I supposed to trust you with the English language for hundreds of pages when you're wasting words right on the cover? Strunk and White frown, madame.
You know what I'd like to do someday? Drive past one of those capital offenders' houses and huck a stone with a note on it through her window. The note would read " : A Rock. "