Open the Vox

Open the Vox

Open the Vox

A Reactive approach to Enlightenment

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Misfortune and Fame

April 28, 2017

Chapter 1.

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Darkness fills the studio apartment. A tiny sliver of light peaks through the curtains. A gentle yet disoriented click clack disrupts the silence. The dim glow of the computer screen in the corner shows only the outline of a numb face.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

“Nobody’s home, go away”.

The door opens, followed by a light in the other room. The face behind the computer pays no attention. He continues his jaunting tempo.

“Sorry, I broke in using one of my over drawn credit cards”.

The light flips on to reveal the man behind the computer in tightie-whities and sweat stained t-shirt. He hisses, showing his canines before jumping on all floors through a mountain of half empty take-out boxes.

“Where the hell did you go?”

Even the tall Lumberjack of a man couldn’t see the man hiding in the corner of his bookshelf through the pile of debris.

“Thanks of stopping by Bill, but I’m O.K. Seriously, I’m O.K.”

“Really? You’re two days away from contracting leprosy, probably have a whole civilization of cockroaches in your library and look like a feral animal. You haven’t left your apartment in weeks, which is probably a good thing considering you smell like-“

A chicken bone lands on Bills shoe.

“Do I see bite marks?”

“Go away!”

“Not until you come out and talk to me like a human being, at the very least; like an adult”.

“I don’t wanna”.

“How long have we known each other, a decade?”

“I downloaded a sex offender app the other day”.

“Perv stalk?”

“Nope, Cop Block”.

“The one for single woman?”

“They have better features.”

“What is this about?”

“I did a scan of this entire apartment complex, 35 sex offenders! You know that gay couple down the hallway! Both convicted sex offenders, both for underage girls”.

“Was I on the list?”

“No. I went over budget before I got a chance to buy the potential serial killer app”.

“Look at yourself, you’re a famous writer with books. And not just any kind of books, rare ones. Don’t you have a first edition of ‘To Kill a Black Person’?”

“It’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and yes, I do own a first edition of the Harper Lee classic”.

“I mean, listen to yeah, man. You’re way too smart to let yourself go. I mean, look man-“

He points to Voltaire’s Candide on the shelf.

“When, you were busy reading Voltaire, I was busy Vol-tearing up some pussy! When’s the last time you got laid?”

“I don’t think fucking aimlessly in the dark is going to solve my problem”.

“Cock blocked by writers block. Nothing’s sadder than a depressed comedy writer. Well, maybe with the exception of a depressed clown”.

“I actually finished my first working draft today in over two years. Care to read it?”

“No!”

The word echoes into awkward silence.

“That’s why I’m here. It’s all over the news. A Russian hacker in Elementary school stole your draft and has already parodied it using computer code. They say it’s the only interesting way to read it”.

“Really? My novel? You break into my house, question my sexuality and have the audacity to insult my masterpiece in my face!”

But, in his mind; it was a piece of shit and he knew it.

“Read the first chapter and tell me it’s as bad as you say it is”.

“I don’t know, it made Stephen King cry. He looked really disappointed”.

“Read it”.

Bill sits down behind the computer desk. His face stares with a blank expression as he scrolls over the words. Seconds seem like eons as he musters the courage to read further.

“So, what do you think?”

He walks over and touches his friend on the shoulder. The man leans over to one side before crashing to the floor. He remains blank faced for several moments before coming back in touch with reality. He looks at the computer screen and shudders before closing the file.

“So, what do you think?”

Bill looks him in the face.

“So, you did write your first two books, right?”

“It sucks, I knew it”.

“Sucks? That’s an understatement. It’s like a huge dry turd that hurts- Oprah’s words not mine”.

He looks down, frowning at his shame.

“Hey, man. All creative people go through slumps. How are you any different?”

“I’m John Lazar, that’s why; famous humorist. Or, at least I was…”

“There’s nothing funny about what I just read. I didn’t know whether to dig my eyes out, cry of boredom or kill myself”.

“I’m going through a serious phase in my work. I don’t want to be remembered as nothing more than a jokester. I love putting smiles on people’s faces but I also want to be remembered as a serious writer”.

“You are a serious writer, you just simply write about stupid shit nobody takes serious. Dude, you made Stephen King cry!”

“I lost my muse, that’s why. No faith, no direction. I’m so lost, so alone”.

“And, that’s why you made Stephen King cry”.

“I don’t know, maybe It’s time I call it quits and step out of the limelight”.

“That’s the spirit! You can always teach courses at a university or travel the road as a stand up. It’s not like you’ve got any close friends or a significant other to keep you warm at night”.

John begins to weep.

“I’m sorry bud that was uncalled for”.

“It’s been over a year since we broke up but my life is as empty as my word documents. Even the words themselves seem to lack color”.

“But, isn’t black the absence of color?”

“You know what I mean!”

“Sounds to me, like you to need to detox with a night of shameful, yet justifiable stranger in stranger action”.

“Too much stranger danger; I can hardly trust my neighbors”.

“You’re not…”

“What I need is a woman who likes to drink Champagne, listen to Chopin and discuss Chaucer”.

“Are You?..”

“If only it were that easy”.

“When’s the last time you dated?”

“About 8 months ago. We met online, went out a few times, and had drinks before going back to her place”.

“Good for you killer! You should give her a call”.

“I don’t know. The sex was so terrible: I went home and climaxed to Ray Bradbury.”

“That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life. But, do you know what. You shouldn’t let one awful night of debauchery ruin future nights of shameful disappointments. You gotta suck it up, put that smile on your face no matter how hard it might be and persevere. I honestly believe that every failure leads to a success and every success leads to a failure. It’s when you allow yourself to give up without reflecting on what needs to be fixed and taking those steps forward that separates the man from the herd”.

“You’re right, my career isn’t over. It’s just begun”.

“Whoa, bro, whoa. You made Stephen King cry. Unless you’re writing the ‘Pride, Peace and Punishment’ of the comedy world, you might as well drink yourself to death like “Ernest Takes-the-easy-way” or Slippery Vagina Wolf”.

“Wha?”

Bill lets out a blech that fills the room with smell of cheap whiskey.

“Sorry, I’ve been drinking all day”.

“It’s 6 am in the mourning”.

“Correction, I’m still drunk”.

“And, Ernest Hemingway put a bullet in his brain”.

“Yeah, yeah. And, Virginia Wolf put rocks in her pocket before jumping off a bridge, so what?”

“Those individuals already had long lucrative careers before they gave up, their legacies were already written in stone. If I killed myself, I would be the laughing stock of the literature community”.

“But, you write humor, your whole career is a laughing stock”.

“My career as a serious writer is dead. I’m better off going back to writing jokes for ugh- tv Sitcoms”.

“Hey, beats having to work a real job”.

“Yeah, you’re right. Who needs the stress of trying to write a culturally significant work of art where money is involved?”

“Precisely, wait, what?”

“I’m calling my publicist right now and telling her the good news. I’m starting back at square one!”

Rummaging through the pile of trash on the floor, John pulls out his cell phone. It reads- New message. He opens it, reads the message and puts the phone down”.

“Ah, crap. The publisher thought my manuscript was a ruse”.

“What?”

“They thought I wrote that as a decoy to keep the public off my tracks. Their expecting my next novel to be my best work. It’s all over the news”.

Bill smiles, trying desperately to hold back the laughter.

“Yeah, live it up. They’re sending me a million dollars as an incentive bonus. They plan to have it published by the beginning of the holiday season”.

Bills face flattens.

“I don’t know what to do? I bled my pen dry. I haven’t had an original idea since “Fried Green Tomatoes or Tomato’s”.

“Be honest. Tell them you’re in a rut”.

“It’s too late. If I tell them that, they’ll lose faith in my work along with my readers. My book sales will plummet and ugh, I’ll have get a real job like a receptionist or newspaper editor”.

“That’s your idea of a real job? Consider yourself lucky. My father is a retired police officer. He stepped into dangerous situations every day and barely made enough to scrape by”.

John’s eyes grow big.

“I got it. I’ll tell my publicist I’ve almost completed my masterpiece. But, I’ll step into a dangerous situation, get killed and become the writer who died too young, like Christopher Marlowe. His works are mediocre but his early death has made up for his lack of potential”.

“That sounds like a terrible idea”.

“Why, my fake novel will become legendary. I’ll be remembered for eternity for a lie”.

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