Stu’s sprawled out on the floor, laughing his ass off.
“OK, ‘Burt Flynn’ dies in a car accident
on page eighteen,” he giggles, “and the rest of
the book is basically Iron Eagle
Part 2, only with a football team instead
of Russian and American pilots. Same
principle, though – a group of ragtags from all
different backgrounds and even rival schools
have to coexist after overcoming
the tragic loss of the main character. It’s
Any Given Sunday mixed with that Ronald
Reagan movie where Knute Rockne gives the speech
about winning just one for the ‘ol Gipper.
That ought to drive people crazy.” Stu’s rambling
about his second novel, which is due in
six weeks. He’s been stuck on page 17 for
five months and has changed the title of the book
roughly 500 times. Stu sits up. “At least.”
He sighs. “I wanted to call it Killer of Fish
2: Kill Harder, but Bruce Willis threatened
to sue and kick my ass just like Yoko did
when I sold t-shirts on the Venice boardwalk
that read, ‘What the fuck is wrong with Yoko?’ Most
people seemed to think the shirt was asking why
she acts like a lunatic. I just meant, who
cares? The Beatles were gonna break up sooner
or later. Yeah, the Chuck Berry performance
was a little strange, but whatever. Still, when
she crept up behind me like a ninja and
started screeching in my ear the way she does
I nearly shat myself. I didn’t, though, which
is why I’m still wearing the shorts I wore that
day on the boardwalk at Venice Beach.” Stu stands
up, a huge grin on his face, and takes a bow.
He gives the ceiling two middle fingers, then
puts his thumb up and struts like Caligula.
Outside he hears an odd howl and his legs go
wobbly. He reaches out and grabs his desk. “Oh
shit,” he gasps. WHOOSH. Wind. Thunder. Lightning and rain.
The house shakes. “It sounds like there’s a freight train outsss—“
Stu begins, but never finishes. He grabs
a broken picture frame on his desk and runs
to his cellar door. The vibrations become
more intense as he pulls it closed and descends
a flight of steps into utter darkness. He
hears scratching in the walls around him and the
howl outside is louder than ever. Stu just
laughs and flicks his Bic lighter to ignite the
wick of an oil lamp on a small table.
He turns the brass dial on the side, filling
the room with the warm glow of fire. Boxes
line the walls of the unfinished basement and
Stu looks around with a frown on his face. “I’m
going to have to call Jerry out here to
check for rats,” he mumbles. “There’s way too much shit
on the floor and I know I heard scratching.” The
house shakes as the wind picks up, causing dust and
pink insulation to fall from the ceiling.
Stu raises an eyebrow and eyes the lamp. “No,
way, Author. I’ve seen Final Destination.
Knock it off. You’re being a dick.” The shaking
stops and the falling firestarters cease to
drop. “Thank you,” he says with a sigh. “I want to
die, yes, but not in a basement inferno.”