This is part 2 of my WIP, as I put it up in stages. The rest can be found under “Works in Progress” on the menu. I appreciate any thoughts at all, especially if you like it so I will be motivated to keep on going. This is just a first draft, there may be typos.
He got off at midnight, and with great alertness made the long, snowy trek home.
He pulled into the drive, smiling at the sight of his house. With its white siding and navy blue shutters it was the quintessence of home. The kitchen light glowed like a fireplace, promising warmth and comfort. The house begged for a painting. He’d have to do it this year—between his writing, of course.
Just inside the back door, he stomped his boots, set them neatly by the bench, and hung his dripping coat and hat.
Norma was always in bed when he arrived. She had probably spent the afternoon painting china, like she did most days. She painted flowers and frills on cups and plates for hours on end and he had no idea why. The dishes never seemed to leave the house either, and every surface was overflowing with delicate china. Only once had he suggested relieving themselves of some of the clutter. He only made that mistake once. If she liked it, who was he to stop her?
He turned off the kitchen light and went into the office. It was just off the living room and in the summer succeeded in being both bright and cozy. His sprawling collection of books lined the walls, every shelf overflowing. On the sturdy mahogany desk sat a green lamp, the kind one sees in old libraries or lawyer’s offices. He sat on the creaking wooden swivel chair and pulled out the notebook. He paused for a moment, looking at his books that surrounded him like old friends. If Norma suggested relieving themselves of some books he would have the same reaction.
Someday, his own book would find its place on these shelves. Right there, in fact, front and center. Smiling, wrote until he fell asleep, crouched over the desk.
“Did you fall asleep like that?” Norma asked, pulling open the green curtains that covered both large windows. The sun cut through his eyelids. He yawned and stretched his stiff neck.
“What time is it?”
“Time for breakfast,” she said as she went out.
“Do you know where the typewriter is?”
Norma came back in the room to look at him. “Why?”
“Writing by hand is too slow. I can’t keep up with my thoughts.”
“Mr. Speedy-thinker here, hm? Go get cleaned up and I’ll find it.”
When he came back down for breakfast it sat on his desk, dusty, yet shining with potential.
“You and I are going to do great things,” he told it.
They ate eggs and toast and coffee, and read the local paper.
“Time for Jeopardy,” she said. She always recorded it the night before and waited for him to watch it.
“Not today.” He finished his coffee and headed to the office. “It’s my day off and I have the whole day to write my masterpiece.”
She followed him down the hall. “Twenty-four years we have been watching Jeopardy. Even when you had your surgery we never missed a morning. And today you’re just going to quit?”
“Just for today. I’m sorry. You go on ahead.” He sat in the waiting chair and swung toward her.
She stood with her mouth open. A string hung from the bottom of her pink bathrobe, reaching for the pink rabbits on her feet.
Greg turned back to the typewriter. She walked off down the hall.
He licked his lips and rested his hands on the keys. They trembled together in expectation.
Once there was a man by the name of eore. And he lived in a town named eoria.
“Ugh! Come on.” He pushed the G key. Nothing. He fiddled with the key. Less than nothing. It flat refused to move.
She ran in the office. “What’s wrong?”
“This key is stuck. Do you know how to fix it?”
“Good lord, Greg. I thought someone was dying by your voice. Now I have to rewind the VHS.” She turned away.
“I can’t write a whole book without the letter G. Or what about my name? It will read, ‘The Novel by re erwitz.’ I’ll look like the subject line of a business letter.”
He heard Jeopardy rewind and play again in the other room.
“What do I do now?”
He kept typing. After he pulled the page from the machine he hand wrote the missing letter. After about three pages, he rethought the name of his main character.
He wrote for several more hours. The frantic tap-tapping encouraging him to continue. It was the sound of progress, of success.
At lunch he looked through the Times.
“I think I’ll buy a new typewriter,” he said between bites of turkey and cheese sandwich.
Norma made a fake surprised face. “You’re going to spend money on a new hobby?”
“Don’t say it like that. It won’t be a hobby when I get paid for it.”
“Do you really need a new typewriter? How long are you really going to use it?”
“Until I finish my novel, at least.”
“How long will that be—if you finish?”
“Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in three days.”
“Didn’t he also marry his thirteen-year-old cousin?”
“That was Edgar Allen Poe.” Greg waved his hand.
“Whatever the case, he probably knew what he was doing.”
“Is this going to be like the time when you wanted to take up painting? And we had to buy an easel and paint and canvas?”
“It was too difficult to learn from books. And you used most of that stuff.”
“Or when you bought that harp?”
“It made my fingers bleed.”
“Or maybe when you bought that expensive camera and all that film, but you didn’t want to go outside to actually take any pictures?”
“I’ve liked writing since high school. And I was quite good at it, if you’ll remember.”
“I know. The newspaper club.” She put her hands up. But you see my point, when’s the last time you finished something?”
“I will finish this. I’ve set a goal for myself. It’ll hit the press by the end of December.”
“Want to bet?”
“We have the same money.”
“It doesn’t have to be money.”
Greg shook his head. He didn’t like the sound of this.
“If you finish, I’ll get rid of my china.”
Greg gulped. “And?”
“If you don’t finish,” she rubbed her chin. “(You have to get rid of your books/other things. Take me on vacation.)
“I hardly think that’s fair.”
“Of course it is. But it shouldn’t matter, since you are so sure you will finish.”
She reached for his hand.
He shook it. “You should start packing now.”
“But really, if you’re going to buy something, why don’t you just get a computer?”
“How is that better than a typewriter?”
“You can do more things with it. It will be easier to edit. The keys won’t ever get stuck.”
“Let’s go get one.”
“Are you serious? Computers have been around for twenty years and you’ve never once been inclined.”
“Now I am. Are you going to the store with me or not?” He stood and looked for the keys. He had no idea where the computer store was, and hoped he wouldn’t have to ask.
Her mouth hung open. “Sure. I’d like to see this historic moment.”
Wiley was so small, in fact, that they had to drive to the next town over for the store.
The automatic doors slid open, and warm air blasted out at them. A handful of people milled about inside.
“Sure is busy,” Greg said.
A young boy came up to them. “Welcome to Computer World. How can I help you today?”
“Maybe we should go to a smaller store,” Greg said to Norma, reaching for her arm.
“This is where they sell computers, Greg.”
The boy stood waiting. His name tag read, ‘Blaze’ and his hair was blue at the ends.
Blaze and Norma were both looking at him. He couldn’t back down now.
“I’d like to buy a computer?”
“Right this way.” Blaze set off and they followed, Norma tried to hold in her laughter.
“Do you want a laptop or pc?”
Blaze squinted and spoke slowly. “Do you want a computer that you can take with you, like this? Or a bigger one that stays in your house?”
“I just didn’t understand you,” Greg said. “I’m not deaf.”
“Sorry, man. So what do you want to do with the computer?”
“He’s writing the next American classic,” Norma said, adding a mocking face.
“Come on, Norma.” He spread his hands out.
“Your words, not mine.”
“You probably won’t be needing much processing power or video cards for text only files. Something like this would probably be good for you.” He led him to a monitor.
Greg moved to the smaller ones. “How about one of these portable ones?”
“Where in heaven’s name are you going to take a computer?” Norma asked.
“You never know where my research is going to take me.”
“Any chance of Timbuktu?” (“Back to the side of sanity and reason, I hope.”)
Greg tapped at the keyboard of one. “No sticking. I’ll take this one.”
“This one is more for gaming. Maybe-”
“The man wants that one,” Norma said.
“Okay. Will you be needing a printer?” Blaze dared to ask.
Greg turned the laptop over. “You mean this doesn’t print?”
The typewriter—a page still hanging out of it all askew, and missing all its g’s—sat forgotten in the corner of the office. Greg tapped at the keyboard, watching letters appear on the white screen. He nearly giggled with joy.
“Now we are writing,” he said.
The words flowed from his fingers like never-ending rivers; they poured out like a roaring waterfall. His characters were quirky and likeable. His plot twisted like a vine, creeping its way up a tree in the rainforest. He could feel the awards coming—the Faulkner Award, the Pulitzer Prize! If there was a walk of fame for authors like there was for actors in Hollywood, his name would be memorialized with names like Hemingway, Twain, Poe, Lovecraft-
“Are you ready to go out?” Norma stood in the door of the office, putting on her pearl earrings.
The breath went out of him. “Now?”
“What do you mean now? It’s four o’clock. It’s Wednesday.”
He looked from his blossoming masterpiece to his wife, then back again.
“Yes, now, Greg.”
“How about next-”
“I let you skip Jeopardy. If you think you’re getting out of our one night a week out for dinner, you can forget it.” The pointer finger was out and resistance was futile. (to resist any more would be futile.)
“Yes, dear,” he sighed. He looked at the keyboard and typed one more word.
“Now!” she yelled from the kitchen.
“Just finishing my thought, dear,” he said.