He stood at the window, appreciating the gray.
Maybe he should have taken Jamie home after all. It was hard to know the right thing to do. She'd had a few drinks at the office party and was hanging on his arm, saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Bigger tragedies had started better.
If it's too late for me to be pure, he had thought at the time, maybe there's still a chance I can be noble. He got in a cab and left. Now she was dating a guy in the IT department.
He went to the computer and logged on. There were several emails waiting for him. The first was from Jonah.
You said the book would be published in mid-October and it is now November. YOU LIED. You promised we would tour the country by car to promote the book . YOU LIED. Instead of working on my book until it was done like you were supposed to you went on vacation for a week. YOU LIED.
He wrote back: Jonah, there's some kind of misunderstanding. I went on vacation after the book was finished. The book was delayed at the printer, it should be here any day. I never promised that we would tour the country, I said that it was something I would like to do if possible. And why can't I take a vacation if I want?
The next email was from his mother: I haven't gotten a check from you yet this month. Oh well, I guess you're not sending one after all. I'll find some way of getting by. Maybe I can borrow money from Marylou or Geoffrey again. Thanks anyway. Love, Ma
Mom, he typed, I sent the check on the 1st of the month. It is now only the 3rd. Please give it another day or so.
Jonah wrote back: YOU HAVE REALLY PISSED ME OFF NOW. SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND. IF YOU DON'T SEND ME SOME FREE BOOKS IMMEDIATELY I WILL KILL YOU.
He replied: Jonah, you're crazy. Stop it. Don't threaten me again or I'm reporting you to the police.
He wrote to the printer: Please cancel my order. You were supposed to have the book for me two months ago, anyway.
Finally he opened the email he had been dreading most of all: When I came home with my beloved Bill I discovered you were DRUNK. And not only drunk but you had been doing DRUGS. Now you say I cannot spend weekends at your apartment because you and Vanessa have broken up. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO, you know I can't stand staying with our mother. Face it, you are an ALCOHOLIC AND DRUG ADDICT. You have inconvenienced me for the last time!!! I have been telling everybody in the family about what a HORRIBLE PERSON YOU ARE!!!!He wrote back: Charlie, you stayed with me every weekend for months and never complained before. You drank two fifths of my best booze and many bottles of beer while you were here. Why are you doing this to me now?
Jonah's other publisher wrote: It has been brought to my attention that you have invalidated your contract with Jonah, ergo I will be publishing his new book instead. Please surrender all relevant files immediately or face serious legal consequences.
He replied: You're as crazy as Jonah. Eat my tits, pirate.
The book printer had emailed back: We have already put significant work into the book. You owe us two thousand dollars. Please remit immediately.
Drill a second hole in your butt to relieve the pressure on your brain, he replied.
The phone rang. It was Maggie.
-Did you ask your editor at NY Press about that story?
-Yes. I wrote Strausbaugh an email explaining the story in detail.
-What did he say?
-He wrote back 'ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.'
-Yes. Just like that. A row of Zs.
-Why did he do that?
-I guess he didn't like the idea.
-What's wrong? You sound funny.
-I've discovered something.
-I woke up this morning and realized my heart was broken.
-Oh. Well, I've got to go now.
He put down the phone and walked to the window. The sunsets were beautiful in Bed-Stuy, almost as good as they had been in Williamsburg. He could hear the popping of gunfire in the distance. He remembered why he hadn't taken Jamie home that night. He didn't want her to see the bad neighborhood where he lived, the old and cramped apartment that was always untidy. She was still young, and if nothing else deserved an illusion of safety and cleanliness for as long as possible.
There was a time when he had become nostalgic over sticks. It was a summer job, at a nature preserve, tending the grass and trails over several hundred acres. He would find sticks with special shapes and use them as staffs, swords, divining rods. Each of them was unique, each had its magical powers too.
Then he heard the ding of his inbox. He went over to the computer and saw there was a new message from his friend Andrey. He double-clicked it, hoping for the best.
Pot Kettle Black by Tilly and The Wall
Tim Hall missed 16 consecutive Mondays in the seventh grade, a school record which still stands to this day. His new book, FULL OF IT: The Birth, Death, and Life of an Underground Newspaper, will be released as a free podcast audio book later this summer. He lives with his wife and son outside Chicago, just past the Target, around the corner from the Home Depot, and down the road from the Starbucks. For more scintillating information about Tim, his family and yes, even his writing you can visit his website here.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Art by "smurfo."
"Pot Kettle Black" is a song about having had enough of it all, but not being able to complain because of your own past.The song is taken from Tilly and The Wall's new untitled (you can call it O) album due out on the For their 3rd studio album the group kicked it up a notch sending guitars and drums in all directions. The album was not given a title so that fans can bring their point of view into the sound. They also want fans to create their album cover.