I need some help.
I like this beginning. I like this character. He’s a crass, snarky bastard, and he’s fun to follow. And I have ideas about where to follow him.
But I don’t know if I should. Would you?
Take a peek…..
It was breezy in the height of summer, while the wood critters sang their songs and the drunken stammer of a wayward author crossed his legs with each stride; on this, the day the world was supposed to end. He’d seen it, all fire and rubble, terror and death and whatnot, a portrait of annihilation appearing in his dreams. Oh yes, the world was going to end, all right, he was certain. Why not? Nobody really understood it, way he saw it. How life sprawled its limbs luxuriously over the little speck of a place they had for so long assumed was everything. Then one day it wasn’t, and they hadn’t stopped whining with existential angst ever since.
His left crossed over his right somewhere between an inch and a foot too far, he couldn’t tell, and the tumble took away what context he had to judge.
Quincy Westward awoke, still drunk, in the pit of a wooded valley, laid out between two hills lined with trees whose branches nearly touched overhead, the sun blazing between. He had a thought then, of the Sistine Chapel, but the thought carried off with the wind. Served it well, he thought about the thought and turned on his shoulder to hurl. With one arm he swiped the remnants of bile across his sleeve and with the other planted the bottom of the liquor bottle against the earth and pushed. Quincy slowly rose, stammered about while blood caught up, then raised the bottle to his lips and took a generous swig. He swung his head to the side after the wind, reconsidering the thought that drifted with it, but it was by then just out of reach. A feeling of loss swept over him. It was a feeling he’d grown accustomed to, the procession of thoughts and their meanings further and further from his grasp. The ones that had once kept him up nights, demanding his attention until he’d given them to the page, collecting them until they formed an arc. Or they didn’t. As he aged, that became more and more the case, the collections of thoughts amounting to little more than ramblings, or sometimes never collecting, or then sometimes never being thought at all. Quincy had turned sixty-three when his mind dried up altogether and in the following year, so did the relationship with his publisher. It began with a missed deadline, his latest novel, “the great culmination of my work, the mountain’s peak,” the base of which his brain rested, indefinitely. After several failed attempts at calling both his high-rise New York apartment and his vacation home in the Appalachians, they had sent a letter to both houses and his agent:
Dear Mr. Westward,
It is with the utmost respect that we aggressively seek contact
with you. We began this latest venture with great enthusiasm and
expectations in response to the description of your latest work as
your crowning achievement. In spite of some previous disagreements,
we were willing to pursue the creation of your manuscript under your
terms. We provided you with the $1,000,000 advance with the hope
that you would deliver upon the date marking the completion of your
work as stated in your contract. We mean not to question your process,
but we were curious if it had occurred to you that the date has passed
now by seven months and in none of that time had you requested
more to satisfactorily finish your work. When you receive this letter,
understand that while we maintain the greatest reverence for your
craft, we will revoke the contract and follow with the full force of
our legal representation taking you to court if you fail to produce a
manuscript in the following six weeks.
And it was on the final day of the sixth week that his publisher received his response:
It is by no accident or misstep of mine that you failed to
receive a manuscript of my previous description by this date. Yes,
I had brought you the seeds of what should have grown to become
the greatest redwood in a forest of legendary works, occupied by
such feats bearing the names of Hemmingway, Dostoyevsky,
Anderson, Faulkner, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. But as with
any dimwitted, inbred, half-retarded, half-disturbed, money-grubbing
sociopath that seeks to monetize and profit from the dubious exchange
of others’ works of art for personal gain, you stand in direct
opposition to the ideological pillars that uphold literature as an
art form. If you had but the slightest inkling of a fart of an idea as
to how the creative process operates, then you would have half a mind
to join the ranks of those commercial authors whose trash busies
bookstore shelves with mind-numbing nonsense. But you don’t, so here
you are, stealing your cut from the sum rightfully earned by your
client. You took my seeds, that which would’ve bore you bushels
of fruit (CASH, for the metaphorically challenged among you, of which
there are several, I’ve read your notes), and fostered them with your
own shit for manure. I refuse your request. Please refrain from
continued contact. I’ve grown tired of stupidity.
Their response came in an expressly shipped letter, a notice of legal action. A long and exhausting legal back and forth eventually resulted in Quincy’s bankruptcy and relocation to a humble cabin home in the forests of Michigan, his birthplace. Having felt his life growing darker, he relished in the thought of lighting a match to all he’d attained, disregarding the reality that it was more his ego and habits that had eaten away his writing talents and thus rotted those seeds instead of his publisher’s incompetence. Well, perhaps not entirely disregarded, as Quincy felt a twinge of self-hatred as he set forth his first step again on the path since he came to. It stung, shot up from his heel and burned where his skull met his backbone, or maybe that was where he’d struck his head in the fall. Hell, he thought. He ultimately didn’t give a damn which anymore. What’s the difference, really? One really did lead to the other the majority of Quincy’s life, inner and outer pain, linked in some way he never quite cared to figure. Actualization, he recalled. Something someone who once cared about him had said, but the rest of their words went out with the rest of the memories about them, because fuck knows I don’t remember who.
If you’ve come this far (dear reader) and would be interested in more, would you let me know?