Quick Novel

::: the novel written in seven hours :::

chapter six

"Have a nice day," she said and smiled. Those were the words that started the conflict.

"Try, just once, by the end of this chapter, to say something a little less cliché." That didn't hurt her feelings, but she felt somewhat guilty. She didn't mean to dismiss him, handing him a smiley face and wishing him a day of mediocrity. She just meant to say something nice. Nice. She was the hero, and now she is somewhat quieter. You won't be hearing more of her. At least until she thinks of something original.

The villain is more interesting anyway. He expects babies with wings and halos to be watching while he masturbates. His martyrdom will be a result of cigarettes and mood lights and Ann Rice novels. He has higher expectations than the hero, and yet life is meaningless and everything we do will be forgotten anyway. He lifts weights so he won't decay too quickly. He likes to watch people pass by with little dogs running to catch up and he squints so everything becomes more surreal. He likes to say things postmodern. He doesn't shave his legs, not because its the norm not to do so, but because he's rebelling against a previous rebellion in his punk eighties youth. Once he died his hair orange knowing full well that the hero who is silent at the moment is deathly afraid of the Archie-look. He designed his own tattoo, a symbol that could as easily be a hate symbol as a symbol for peace.

The villain isn't all that bad. Just misunderstood. Have a clove, it smells sweeter, and he hates the taste of real cigarettes anyway. He wonders if he's inhaling. He makes a mental note to smoke in front of the mirror. He looks over at the hero and blows smoke in her eyes.

She was saying something. She's a low-talker, mumbling and giggling at her own witticisms. She was saying something deathly original. The villain isn't too worried about her gaining the privilege of quotation marks, because those are only granted to those that speak up. And she only speaks up when she's speaking clichés.

"Wasn't that cool?" she asks. We should all do her the favor of ignoring that remark.

The villain knows how to play games with people. He drops his pencil to the floor and looks at the hero. She reaches down to pick it up and holds it in her hand like some sacrificial offering to a god. She plays with the thought of putting it behind her hair like a Hawaiian flower, but she sensed she'd sway her hips awkwardly and be laughed at. She's seriously thinking about getting high, but she doesn't have a dealer. She figures the villain will share. After all, she did pick up his pencil, and she knows what that's worth.

The writer at this point should be acknowledged. She just took a dunking donut and bit off the handle first, making her donut just a little harder to dunk in that plastic cup of coffee. She was thinking at the time of the biting about going to a tanning booth to fake a healthy look. The villain thinks its a superficial Floridian white trash way to induce cancer. He sucks on his stick. The hero thinks it might be warm and cozy in that little cocoon, but she's talking too soft.

"What?" Bob asks.

"Huh?" Susan looks at him. She was talking to the writer.

"I said, 'what?'" Bob repeats.

"What what?" Susan wrinkles her forehead, inducing that premature aging effect. She often tries to speed up the process.

"What did you say before?" Bob is the villain, and Susan never repeats anything. "Why do I have to be the villain? I said one snotty remark as a result of some intellectual hubris at the beginning of the chapter, and now I've somehow silenced you into being some low-talker when we both know you're the only one who speaks anything of any significance. Could your so-called shyness just be a difficult indifference to this quick-novel? Maybe you just need some ego gratification by silently knowing that you're mumbling witty things while others are just hovering around you and asking you to repeat yourself."

"What?" Susan asked, looking up from a book. She was thinking of something else. And so it goes. It's always the quiet ones.

This story takes place in the stacks of the graduate library, where Susan counteracts the clove smoke blown in her eyes by taking this dusty book off the metal shelves with hooks that tend to catch her sweater and blowing that dust in his face. She plans to recycle some academia and get lost in rhetoric. She plans to write it down, and allow herself to be recycled in fourteen years on CD-ROM. She wants to be forgotten and rediscovered. Susan's plan is to burn the three printed copies of the source, this graduate's thesis that made it to hard-cover, and not even pay the library fines. The burning should be easy, but the library fines evasion might be somewhat trickier. Librarians can be fucking ruthless. Susan is the quiet one, but she has big plans and little time for distractions.

"Susan, do you want to hear this angry ex-lover poem I summoned up all my teen angst to write for you?" Bob begins to pull the typed sheet of paper from his binder, wishing he had written it by hand to seem a little less prepared. Susan responds.

"What?" Bob leans closer, knowing she has no intention of repeating herself. He wishes he hadn't dismissed her, he actually is having a nice, at least decent, day. "I think we have a codependent relationship. You gratify my image by stepping back and letting me have the monologues, and I let you fuck with me in the head to amuse yourself." Bob wrote his poem with the magnetic poetry on the magnetic display case in a tragically hip little store, and quickly scrambled it up again when he was done. He sounds smooth and confident, but he's full of insecurities.

Susan fingers through the yellowed book and opens to a random page, blathering on the psychology of sexual perversities. She tends to close her eyes and point to a map to determine a destination, she figures eeny-meeny-miney-moe might be a more effective method of life choices than career counseling. It looks like her research topic is chosen. Now she just needs a subject and a control. And a hypothesis. She knows the formula. She starts with the subject.

"Bo-ob, I'm hungry for Chinese..." she flashes him a smile and sweet-talks him without saying much at all. "Maybe I'll even let you read me that little poem of yours." He's buying, of course.

He follows her through stacks and while she looks straight ahead he's searching for couples in hiding pressed against the books to lean over to, stretching out his neck and say quietly, "boo.". Fantasy passes, and they gather Susan's stamped book and pass through the book detector, undetected. They haven't done anything wrong as of yet.

Rainy walkways with Susan staring at the ground lost in thought and Bob squinting his eyes at the girl gang holding little invitations from neighboring frat houses, keeping in mind little email warnings from women's studies majors concerning things slipped in drinks. He thinks they look surreal when his eyes are half closed and he holds his breath to induce a quasi-trance and he reaches over and tickles Susan to let her know that they are the only real things in this ridiculous world. She laughs too, but not with him. She has something on her mind, and her focus never falters. She throws him a bone and he follows.

...on to Chapter Seven...

Any questions? e-mail chris@osric.com