(The estimated reading time for this is 8 minutes)
Ron McClure sat behind his desk, leaned forward, his elbows propped on top. His fingers were a pyramid under his chin. “I don’t see how I can be much help.”
Krist looked at him from the uncomfortable chair across the desk inside Ron’s posh office. Expensive paintings and plaques and diplomas hung on every wall. He tugged at the bill of his ball cap. Clearing his throat, he said, “I’ve written a lot of blogposts.”
“I’m sure you have.”
Krist spoke slowly, as if considering each word. “I just want this one to be different than the others.”
“Afraid of repeating yourself?”
“Something like that.”
Ron nodded. “I see.”
“I could have either written something about the book. You know—its inspirations and stuff, or I could have written a short story featuring the characters from the book.”
Ron reached out, tapped a book on his desk. The cover’s image was drenched in grainy red with a collage of violence smeared across. “The characters from Something Violent?”
“But I’m a character from the book.”
“So aren’t you just sort of using me as a way to do both an article about the book and a short story?”
Krist suddenly looked uncomfortable. He squirmed in the chair, shifting his weight to one side and crossing his leg. “Yeah. That was my plan.”
“Jesus.” Ron sighed. “Of all the ridiculous—”
“You don’t like the idea?”
“I don’t not like it, but I don’t really care for it, either.”
Krist frowned. “Um…”
“But I’ll bite. Let’s do it your way.”
Smiling, Krist nodded. “Awesome.”
Ron puffed his cheeks with a heavy breath. He muttered, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Looking up, he put on a smile. “So, Kristopher Rufty, tell me about the book!”
Groaning, Krist rolled his eyes. “Come on, man!”
“Well, how the hell else am I supposed to get you to talk about the book?”
“Not like that!”
“For the love of it all.” Ron rubbed his eyes. They felt sore and achy. He could sense the early stages of a headache forming deep in his skull. “I guess I could ask where you came up with the idea for it?”
Krist shrugged. “Maybe.”
Ron stared at him, expecting more but soon realized that had been Krist’s answer.
Krist frowned. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like my wife looks at me when I say something stupid.”
“I didn’t look at you like that.”
“You did. I can show you a picture of her to prove my point.”
“Well, excuse me for trying to get you to openly talk about why you wrote a story that isn’t about little ankle-biting monsters or maniacal angels on the rampage.”
“I don’t know—just seemed like it would be fun to do. I’ve had the idea for a while. It popped in my head one day when I had our car at the mechanic’s shop, getting new tires put on. I wrote it down on a strip of receipt paper I got from the woman working the front counter.”
“It’s true. I copied down the ideas in my notebook when I got home and tucked it away. Two years later, I was at the same service station, getting new tires put on again and the idea returned. This time, I had a pad and pen with me. I wrote the first chapter in the waiting area, longhand.”
“That’s pretty neat. The idea just popped in your head right there?”
“So to speak. Actually, I’d been contemplating making another indie movie and I thought Something Violent would be fun and fairly inexpensive to shoot.”
“Makes sense. The story reminds me of those exploitation movies from the seventies.”
“Oh, I love them. The more bizarre the better. I took my love for these films and crime fiction novels and just mixed them all together.”
“Crossing multiple genres.”
“I went crazy with it. The original idea was pretty stripped down, but when I decided to write it as a book instead of a screenplay, it grew into a love letter to all those exploitation treasures I enjoy watching. I love what the book had become by the time I was through.”
“Same here. I mean, without sounding bias or anything, I think it’s your best book.”
“Thanks. You’ve read my others?”
“Well, not all of them, but you created me in this one.”
“You’re crucial to the story. Even when so much changed and I kept having all these wild ideas, the core of the story always remained the three of you.”
“Jody, Seth, and myself?”
Ron smiled. “That’s something special, but I must say, I’m not too impressed by what you had me doing in some of the scenes.”
Laughing, Krist held up his hands as if to surrender. “I just let the characters dictate their own actions.”
Ron’s mouth dropped open. He made a coughing sound as he blinked. “What are you saying?”
“Nothing. Just stating how I work. I go in with a premise and learn who the characters are in the process. I let them—you—guide me.”
“What a load of bullshit.”
Krist jumped at the female’s voice. He looked over his shoulder at the man and woman standing in the doorway. From the excited look on his face, Ron figured he recognized them.
“It’s you! Jody and Seth Covington!”
Jody smiled. “Yep. Us.” She was dressed in a yellow sundress that clung to her curves and seemed to stretch around the large mounds of her breasts.
Krist pointed at Seth. “You grew a beard?”
Tall and muscular, Seth wore a t-shirt that accentuated his physique. He rubbed the closely-cropped hair on his face. “Trying it on.”
“Looks good,” said Krist.
“Guys,” said Ron, “I told you to wait outside.”
“How could we?” asked Jody. “He’s here. The writer of our story.”
“What was that shit about characters guiding you?” asked Seth.
Ron clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Listen. I’m the one talking to Mr. Rufty here. I told you guys to wait outside and I expected you to honor my request.”
“Oh, please,” said Jody. “When have we ever honored anything?”
“Why start now?” said Seth.
Krist began to sweat. His perspiration turned into rivulets when Jody shut the door. Then locked it.
“Oh, hell,” he muttered.
“Relax,” she said. “Don’t get your panties in a wad.”
Krist laughed. “Hey I recognize that…”
“Save it,” said Seth. “Answer my question.”
Krist looked to Ron for help. Ron only shrugged, then leaned back in his chair, offering zero assistance. The scene had been ripped from his control the moment Jody and Seth arrived.
Krist turned to look at the Covingtons again. “Well, I write without knowing too much about the characters. I learn about you while I write. Sometimes you do things that surprise me. And sometimes you do things that, uh…that…”
“Disappoint you?” asked Jody.
Krist attempted a smile.
“Jesus,” she said. “How many times are you going to be quoted saying that same horseshit?”
“Well, it’s the truth.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. The truth. So you’re saying everything we did in the book was by our own accord?”
“You’re a writer, man,” said Seth, “how can you claim to have written the book if we did all the work?”
“Maybe I set up the scenes and put you in the situations, but it was all on you how you handled it.”
“Unbelievable,” said Jody. “Still spouting off utter stupidity.” She looked at Seth, sighed. “I’m bored. Want to kill him, then go get a taco?”
“When do I not want to kill somebody and get a taco?”
Krist held up his hands. “Uh…wait, if you do that…” Krist quickly stood up, snatched the paperback with the grinning skull from Ron’s desk, and flipped to the back.
“What’s he doing?” said Seth.
Jody, laughing at Krist’s frantic actions, shrugged. “No idea.”
When Krist brandished an ink pen, Ron jumped to his feet. His chair rolled backwards, smashing into the wall. “Where’d you get a pen?”
Smiling, Krist said, “Snuck it in.”
“Shit!” Ron growled. “Stop him! He’s writing his way out!”
“That mother fu…” was all Jody managed to say before Krist began scribbling on the white side of the back cover. Within seconds, he faded away like a holographic ghost in an old Scooby-Doo cartoon. The paperback hung in the air a moment before dropping. It bounced off the arm of the chair Krist had been sitting in, then flipped down to the floor, and landed with the cover facing up.
Seth sighed. “Maybe we shouldn’t have talked so much and just went right to the killing.”
Jody rolled her eyes. “You think?”
Ron scratched his head. The headache was growing stronger by the second, pulsing behind his eyes. “I don’t feel like Krist answered anything.”
“He did fine,” said Jody. “I think he was trying to answer without giving too much of the story away. That’s why he had us here.”
“Yeah,” said Seth. “But we know the story. We know how it ends.”
“True,” said Jody. “But they don’t.” She swung her thumb toward the left.
Seth and Ron both turned their heads, but only Seth said, “Who?”
Jody sighed. “The people reading this in DarkFuse Magazine.”
“Oh, right,” said Seth. He smiled, showing all his teeth.
“They can’t see you,” said Jody.
Seth stopped smiling.
“Actually,” said Ron, “they have their own mental interpretation of you. To be technical, they can see you just fine.”
Jody moaned. “Well, shit.” She walked over to where the paperback of Something Violent had landed on the floor after Krist’s vanishing act. She picked it up. “So what do we do now?”
Ron shrugged. “We can mention how the book’s available to buy in limited edition hardcover, paperback, and eBook.”
“Hear that, Jody?” said Seth. “We’re digital.”
“Awesome.” She set the book on Ron’s desk. “I’m just going to leave this here and hope that we’ve done our part and seduced people to read the book.”
“We’ve done our best,” said Ron. “Let’s hope it worked. Now, didn’t someone mention tacos?”
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