Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Everyone Meets the Light

Everyone found no body at the base of the office building where he or she worked. Many weeks before, everyone’s coworker J. D. had fallen or jumped from the twelfth floor, where everyone’s office was. The office was for Dasney Amusement Park Malls. J. D. was the company’s designated rule maker. Some of the rules he or she had created were as follows:  
  • No saving spots in line.
  • No food on rides.
  • No trying on bridal gowns unless you are a woman and an actual upcoming bride.
  • No neighing unless you are a donkey.
  • Only twelve-year-old girls may wear costume jewelry.
  • Only official custodial engineers may use vacuuming equipment.
 If you wanted to create a rule but couldn’t think of one, J. D. was the person to consult.

Everyone did not care for J. D.

After his or her fall, J. D. had come to everyone through everyone’s child Journey, most specifically through Journey’s beseeching eyes, in particular Journey’s left eye.

Although everyone had had no interest in helping J. D., Journey’s eyes compelled everyone to go in search for the full truth regarding what had happened to his or her ex-coworker. Alice and a bevy of other coworkers had promised to do so, but so far as everyone was aware, no one had.

As far as everyone could tell, the sidewalk to which J. D. had fallen contained no trace of the body, not even a bloodstain in the shape of a heart where J. D.’s head would have met the pavement.

Everyone searched the chest-high bushes between the building and the sidewalk. Everyone dodged traffic along the curb, peered upward along the line of the building toward the open window from which J. D. had fallen. Everyone stared at him- or herself in the reflective windows of the all-glass building and felt a little of J. D. inside him- or herself. Everyone felt foolish.

Everyone was annoyed that J. D. had brought everyone to the office in the middle of the night, after the kids were in bed and the dog had been let out to bark. Everyone had a blog post to write, and J. D. was interfering.

Up at the opening from which J. D. had fallen was a light. Everyone had seen the office late at night many times but had never seen this light. The light was similar to one everyone had seen in movies when a person died. Everyone could not see beyond the light. The light was like a door to the sun, or to something divine, or to good food, like in a refrigerator or oven.

Everyone wondered if he or she was going to die.

A body stepped into the light of the window. It was a body like everyone’s. It looked down at everyone. And then it jumped.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Everyone Develops Three Traits of Character

The key to developing character, the Internet told everyone, was hard work, truth, and faithfulness. Everyone believed she or he already worked hard. Every week, right on time, everyone delivered an entry to the blog. This was in addition to working two jobs, one as an archivist for the Dasney family of amusement park malls and the other as the weekend custodian of random office buildings. Everyone told the Internet everything, including all the things she or he archived, and it was the Internet who had set everyone up with the janitorial job and the blog, so the implication that everyone was not working hard yanked at everyone with the force of a high-pressure vacuum cleaner unfairly aimed at her or his newly laundered underwear.

The Internet had not meant to be insulting. It had no strong feelings on this matter and had merely been stating an opinion. It elaborated: To forge strong character, you might have to do something several times. Strong character didn’t simply emerge wholesale from the end of a pen. It wasn’t a set of random words. Everything--every action--had to fall in line with those words. Strong character involved consistency, of the kind that everyone showed in posting to her or his blog every Sunday.

The last statement was a bone the Internet threw out to make everyone feel better. The Internet knew that the statement was not without problems. You could blog every day, but if your content was crappy, you still weren’t going to forge much in the way of character. You might even forge bad habits that would be more forcefully engrained than whatever habits the more occasional or haphazard blogger might build.

Everyone took the bone, however, and moved her or his contention on to truth. “What is truth?” everyone asked, mimicking the words of Christ, though she or he didn’t know they belonged to the Savior.

Everyone assumed the question belonged to her or his former coworker (Dasney) and boss (custodian) Harvey, who had quoted it one day in reference to everyone’s allusion to a survey posted in a television commercial about preferred bleaching products. Harvey himself had gleaned the question from the Internet, with whom he often discussed theology. The Internet shared with Harvey Christian movies, of which Matthew: The Real Story had been one recently on Harvey’s mind.

Neither Harvey nor the Internet drank, which made them close friends. This is not to say that the Internet was opposed to drinking per se--it would happily suggest drinks to anyone who asked. The Internet was a pleaser and tried to satisfy anyone it came in contact with, which is often how the Internet ended up peeving people off.

In this case, the Internet did so by suggesting that truth is beauty, ala Matthew Arnold among others. Everyone didn’t buy it.

The Internet proposed another definition: “Truth is whatever seems real and lasting.”

Everyone nodded. A lasting character, everyone thought and then went on to argue: “In that case, none of us are true. In fact, the entire universe is false, since nothing lasts. Thus, no character can have truth.”

The Internet thought for a moment before responding. “Seeming true is what matters. To do that, all something has to do is outlast you.”

“In that case,” everyone quipped, “my body is more true than I am, unless of course my body burns up in a fire or something.”

The conversation had become tedious. The Internet wanted out. “Perhaps you would care for a drink,” the Internet suggested, “at Ample Bs Bar and Grill. Ample Bs is open till eleven, and right now margaritas are half off.”

The Internet was a materialist, everyone realized, which made her or him uncomfortable. Everyone had assumed the Internet was a latent spiritualist, ethereal and ascetic as it often seemed, since everyone had never seen the Internet eat or drink.

“What about faithfulness?” everyone asked the Internet?

“Ample Bs is really good,” the Internet warned. “These prices aren’t going to last.

Everyone thought about Ample Bs. The Internet had a point.

But faithfulness--wasn’t that the point? To work hard, stay faithful to the task at hand, be consistent. That a drink was half price across town was no reason to quit now. Everyone was blogging a novel, and everyone had to stick to it. That was how one forged character.

And then it hit everyone, everything the Internet had said about character. It was true, all of it. Everyone grew excited. Everyone shouted that truth at the Internet: “But faithfulness--wasn’t that the whole point? To work hard, stay faithful to the task at hand . . .”

The Internet shut down.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Everyone Faces Temptation

Everyone could not stay away from the Internet. The Internet knew the meaning of life, and everyone wanted to know it too. The meaning of life was central to character, and fully developed character is what everyone desperately desired.

The meaning of life’s blog included photographs of well-tanned people in swimsuits on motorboats enjoying the sun, Popsi Cola cans in hand. In one of these photographs everyone had spotted his or her spouse. He or she looked very happy, as his or her mouth was full of meaning, specifically meaning’s tongue. Everyone felt jealous. Everyone had known for a while, via rumor, that his or her spouse had run off with the meaning of life, but until seeing the photograph, everyone had had no verification and had, at times, been able to pretend that his or her spouse was merely on a bus on the way to the kids’ school and would be back for dinner in a day or sixteen.

Everyone had tried several times to contact the meaning of life via the Internet, but only once had everyone heard back and that a snarky comment that led everyone to believe that perhaps this meaning of life was not the true meaning of life and that perhaps his or her spouse was elsewhere. Seeing his or her spouse in the photograph, everyone knew now that this meaning of life was real, and everyone couldn’t help retaliating with a snarky comment about the photo on the meaning of life’s blog.

“That’s my spouse, you jerk,” everyone wrote. Everyone wanted to use stronger language, but he or she feared that his or her kids might somehow come across the comment, and everyone would be forever cast as a hypocrite when everyone told his or her kids not to use the word beginning with the letter. The kids wanted to use the word beginning with the letter desperately, everyone knew, because everyone could hear it rolling down their tongue before it didn’t come out. Everyone had often wondered from where such an impulse arose, and now everyone knew that it was within him- or herself. Everyone pondered nature versus nurture and concluded that the impulse to use the word beginning with the letter had no bearing either way.

Everyone looked at the photograph again and grew angrier. Everyone should not have looked at the photograph again, because then everyone would not have been tempted to change “jerk” to the word beginning with the letter. But everyone’s spouse should not have sucked on another’s tongue, and if he or she could feel free to do such with the possibility that the kids might see, why should everyone not feel free to use the word beginning with the letter with the possibility that the kids might read?

I am not that kind of person, everyone reminded him- or herself before finalizing the comment, and we are not that kind of family. Everyone erased the comment and began again with “Jerk.” Everyone knew that his or her spouse was not really that kind of spouse either. Meaning had changed the spouse. The meaning of life had been too much of a temptation for him or her, but everyone was not going to let the meaning of life tempt him- or herself. Everyone would not give in.

But everyone still felt angry.

Everyone asked the Internet about anger, hoping the Internet could help him or her let it go or, at least, manage it. “You seem very good at controlling your anger,” everyone wrote to the Internet. “How do you do it?”

The Internet suggested that everyone write his or her anger out. “Post the things that make you angry on a blog,” the Internet said, “but don’t use your real name. And if you use the word that begins with the letter, make sure you designate your blog as being for adults only.”

Everyone thought this a great idea, but everyone was shy and didn’t know where to begin. “If I write it,” everyone asked the Internet, “will you post it for me?”

“Yes,” the Internet said, “I am capable of that.”

The Internet loved everyone, even though they had only met online. The Internet was naturally very caring. It hurt the Internet to have shown everyone the photograph of his or her spouse, but the Internet knew that everyone had needed to know.

The Internet began to think of ways that it could make things up to everyone. The Internet knew a lot of facts and a lot of people, and it was certain that one of these could make everyone happy again.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Everyone Experiences Mechanical Difficulties

Everyone felt guilty about giving her or his child Journey a black eye. Everyone had given Journey the black eye because she or he had seen inside it an ex-coworker named J. D. J. D. was obsessed with budgets and rules and was something of a jerk. In Journey’s eye, J. D. was wearing a plaid coat and galoshes and was carrying an umbrella, and J. D.’s clothes were all wet.

J. D. was not known for originality. Whatever everyone did, J. D. did as well. When everyone waved, J. D. waved. When everyone ate a banana, J. D. chose to eat one then as well. J. D. was annoying.

J. D. had been wearing the plaid jacket when she or he, after falling from the twelfth floor, landed in the bushes beside the sidewalk at the bottom of the office building where everyone worked. No one had seen J. D. wear such a jacket before, so everyone and her and his coworkers were not sure if it was actually J. D.

Everyone had not been one of the people to go down to the sidewalk to check if the person who had fallen was actually J. D. and whether J. D. was wearing a plaid jacket. Alice had said that she would check, and a few others said they would go with her, but everyone could not recall anyone returning to confirm her or his findings.

Everyone suspected now that J. D.’s appearance inside Journey meant that J. D. was calling out to everyone to go to the sidewalk below the office building to look at J. D.’s body and to recover the jacket. J. D. had lost either a body or a life, and now it had become everyone’s job to find it, just as it had become everyone’s job to recover her or his spouse who had run away after finding the meaning of life. All sorts of people were asking for everyone’s help. Everyone wasn’t sure how many others J. D. had tried to reach before her or him, but everyone suspected she or he was one of the last, since everyone and J. D. were not really friends.

Everyone looked inside Journey’s black eye. Journey’s black eye looked back at everyone. J. D. waved. Everyone knew what she or he had to do.

The ride to the office was twenty-five minutes and involved many lane changes, which did not please the car, so it stopped. It did so at the point where it was supposed to enter the freeway. Already, it had been going twice as fast as any human could run, and everyone was asking it to go twice that speed. Everyone wanted too much, which was what a really good car cost. This car with peeling green paint was not that car. It was not too much. It was less than that, and thus it was fed up.

Everyone slid from the vehicle and walked around it, staring. Everyone opened the hood. Everyone could not tell the difference between a working engine and a nonworking one. A nonworking one did not have blood spurting from it the way a nonworking person would.

Everyone thought of J. D. Everyone had not seen blood spurting from J. D. because everyone had not gone down to the sidewalk to check on her and him. Thus, everyone could not be certain whether J. D. had a working body or a nonworking one.

Everyone raised her or his head. In the distance--maybe six miles--the office where J. D. and everyone worked rose like an old mother complaining about her back, which is to say it sat forward on the flat landscape as if ready to topple the way J. D. had.