You are trying be author. It hard sometimes. Especially when you splurge on shiny gold typewriter at thrift store—only nine dollars—then find out typewriter needs ribbon. You order ribbon online for fifteen dollars, wait for it by door. You do calculations in head. Have now purchased twenty-four dollar typewriter. Did not have budget in mind for this. World cruel sometimes.
Ribbon finally come, you sit with gold typewriter and not type. Writing award winning novel not so easy as you thought. Maybe you need to write in cafe. People in cafe stare when you load typewriter paper in typewriter and you get embarrass. So silly to think this is solution. Maybe you start smoking while write? Go to store, pick up American Spirit, go home and smoke but do not get work done, simply start get anxiety. Girlfriend comes home, say, “Why are you smoke cigarettes in room?”
You say you smoke to become great author like Irving Hemingway. She say that not author name. You tell girlfriend she stay out your study from now on. She leaves in big huff. Not good author girlfriend.
Or maybe not true. All good author have strained relationship. This may be blessing and you not realize it yet.
Regardless, you begin write book. It called Sour Ass, and it about sad brilliant young writer boy who make lots of sex and also solve mystery, genuis boy who nobody realize is genius until too late. Sour Ass will be big deal someday. New York Time seller. Make it into big movie starring big names like Kiefer Sutherland. You tell nobody, but Sour Ass actually about you. Girlfriend can tell. Girlfriend say Sour Ass perpetuate white male fantasy, whatever that mean. You tell girlfriend she can stick it up asshole. Tell girlfriend to go write own novel. You keep writing, and words flow out like blood when cut.
Friend from college keep get published. You have digital brunch with friend, the only other man from old workshop. You eat omelet and drink coffee, but friend do not eat. He look like he have toothache, because he keep rubbing jaw. You ask, “why tooth hurt, friend?”
Friend say he got in fight.
“Who attack you, friend?”
Friend say, “I live in New York City, where other authors be. You may not realize, but there many other men who author.”
“I do not read,” you say.
“In New York City, you not have to read to see other male author. Male author everywhere. On subway, in cafe, in park. Last Tuesday I was read Old Man Sea when strange boy approach me. I figure he was looking for fight. He wearing glasses and had satchel bag and was reading Jonathan Franzen– important author, very current. He had tattoo on inner arm that said boobie boy. I don’t know what that signify. Maybe he like boobies?”
“He sounds scary.”
“Any case, boobie boy says to me, ‘you need to vacate cafe. This my territory.’ I tell him screw off and bite me in my ass. He flip my table and before know it, we are wrestling. Heads locked, arms flailing. We like bulls. Cafe people screaming, running everywhere. Cafe owner screaming, ‘we do not want trouble. Please take fight outside.’ Boobie boy and I keep grappling each other until police arrive and aim guns through cafe store window. We go outside and police hit us and put us in back of car. Eventually let me go for good behavior. Cops say that author fighting each other big problem in New York City. Lots of clashing creative personality. Can turn ugly. Boobie boy sent to Rikers Island for defending his territory. It scary out here.”
“God damn,” you say. You slightly jealous of friend. He may be on daily basis dealing with turmoil and fear that come with being white man who write in New York City, but at least he getting published. Friend always got publish, even way back in workshop. Now he’s big shot. You surprised he even have time to digital brunch with you, his former good friend.
Friend rub jaw some more and say, “Anyway, must go now. Got new story idea for man trapped in prison. I mean, how scary is that?”
Friend hang up and you say to self, “Damn, that’s good!”
You go to write in a bar on yellow notepad because you hear handwriting can be helpful to people trying to author. College people start coming in and you feel nervous because you old man sitting with weird little notepad. Not get much work done. Come home and girlfriend is typing furiously on phone. You ask what she doing. She say nothing. You peek over and girlfriend writing own novel! On cell phone! What a miserable world this is. She look up at you with these eyes like kidney beans.
She asks why it’s bad thing for her to be write novel. You say, “Why? Why!” You say, maybe because this your thing and it kind of feel like she’s jealous. Like she want to encroach or emproach somehow. Like this is spite. Girlfriend get really angry. She get up in your face and spit on you while she talk. She say that you are piece of shit and she don’t know why she started date you in the first place. Say you’re not reliable. Say you are a misogynistic pig.
You say, “Uhh… I am a human and definitely not a pig,” and then walk out the apartment. The air cold and frigid out here. No one around except you, a lone vanilla bean in the night. Girlfriend was your full support network. Emotionally and maybe a little bit financially. Now you’re vagrant white male author—like Jack Kayak. You pull out American Spirit and try to calm nerves but just start choke. Then you set off to the only place you know to go—New York City.
Months go by like children in the rain. Women make fun of you for eating Taco Bell in New York City—but it only ethnic food that your body able to handle. You go on dates with beautiful New York women, only for them say you have tiny overactive colon and that you also have small penis. It brutal. You barely scraping by with monthly five thousand dollars you Dad give you. You once have to sleep on bed with suboptimal thread count, and it cold, and you not understand where life went so wrong.
Jasey Roberts is a writer from Southwest Virginia. His previous work has appeared in Bourgeon Online.