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, June 26, 2016
Star’s inspiration for taking up acting was the John Quincy Adams exhibit at the Dasney Amusement Park Mall. Sam, everyone’s coworker at the parent company’s main office, had taken Star to see the exhibit.
Ever since Sam had seen John Quincy Adams speak, she or he had been transfixed. It was as if John Quincy Adams lived inside Sam and controlled all that Sam said, did, and perceived. Sam wanted others to see in John Quincy Adams what she or he saw. John Quincy Adams had been prescient enough to perceive that Hawaii was a place for tourists and thus to argue for its statehood, all without having seen the islands and before the United States had taken control.
John Quincy Adams reminded Sam of J. D., an ex-coworker of everyone’s and Sam’s. Whenever Sam saw John Quincy Adams speak, Sam was certain J. D. had come to live inside John Quincy Adams. It was evident from the way that John Quincy Adams had such respect for law and Hawaii.
Sam had been disappointed when she or he took everyone to see John Quincy Adams. Everyone had failed to see how John Quincy Adams invoked their former coworker J. D.
So Sam decided to take others. Sam wanted to take everyone’s youngest child, Jan. Jan seemed likely to be the most susceptible to Adams’s power, because Jan was the most like everyone’s former spouse, and everyone’s former spouse liked J. D. But like everyone’s former spouse, Jan could not be found.
Sam would have taken everyone’s child, Journey, as in the right light, Sam could see J. D. in Journey’s eyes. But Sam had heard of the troubles everyone had had with Journey the last time they had visited the Dasney Mall, and Sam did not wish to repeat those.
So Sam settled on Star.
Star believed John Quincy Adams to be the greatest orator of her or his generation, or so Star told Sam. Star identified John Quincy Adams’s voice and mannerisms not with J. D. but with the famous actor Clint Gabble. As a child Clint Gabble had been featured as a child robot on a television show that included a spaceship, and then he had gone on to star with Gina Monrovia in the movie The Real Mr. Keen. The movie had been rated R for sex. Clint Gabble wasn’t a child robot actor anymore, and this was how he proved it. Gina wanted to be famous, and the movie was how she proved that. Now everyone knew what Gina looked like naked, so she could not go anywhere without being recognized unless she had on clothes.
Star had never seen the movie, but the Internet had shown her or him clips, late at night, after everyone went to bed. Most of the clips did not involve the movie, however, except in passing. Most of the clips involved how Clint and Gina were in love. Their love was more famous than they were. All of humanity wanted to know where Clint and Gina’s love ate each night, what that love was doing coming out of the Crystalball Club at three a.m. on a Sunday morning, and when the love would finally make Clint and Gina marry.
In the grocery store Star learned that Gina had been unfaithful to the love, and Clint was uncertain about whether to continue going out with it. Star learned that love had made Gina pregnant, though no baby had ever come forth, and that Clint used a phone line to talk love into going out with other women.
Then Clint and Gina reconciled with love and had their pictures taken with it on a red carpet. Gina wore a long pencil gown that wrapped around her like a vacuum cleaner hose. Clint, right arm around Gina’s waist, smiled haughtily, as if he had just finished vacuuming love’s thirteen-room mansion. And in Clint and Gina’s free hands--because they were rich and thin and fit and happy and successful--were cans of Popsi Cola.
Star wanted to be part of this love that Clint and Gina had. They knew the meaning of life, took boat cruises with it each weekend. Star wanted to always have a member of the opposite sex beside her or him and to have all of humanity know it.
Clint Gabble, on stage as a John Quincy Adams robot, seemed to be out to tantalize single women, the way he spoke of Hawaii as the last adventure to be tamed and potentially as the federal government’s biggest tax haul ever. Clint, as John Quincy Adams, was very logical. Star wanted to have such logic. Star wanted to be an actor.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
The meaning of life liked Popsi Cola, so something involving refreshment was in order. “The taste that refreshes,” everyone wrote in his or her blog. “The taste that refreshes,” everyone wrote again, “Popsi.”
“Leisure, success, and happiness,” everyone wrote. The meaning of life liked leisure, success, and happiness. “Fit and tan people smiling,” everyone wrote, thinking of the photographs on the meaning of life’s blog, “holding Popsi Cola, the taste the refreshes.”
“While on motorboats,” everyone added, for it was obvious from the photographs that the meaning of life liked those too.
And so that the Internet could properly file the information, everyone added, “Plaid jackets,” and linked the phrase to a photo of the meaning of life, poolside, with a plaid jacket draping off the lounge chair on which the meaning of life lay.
The meaning of life also liked business and sales, so everyone thought about what business and sales words might appeal to the meaning of life. There was a patio deck beside and beneath the meaning of life in the pool photo. It consisted of pinkish pea-graveled cement. Perhaps, something about patio sales was in order.
Everyone should have ignored the thumping. Everyone was writing a blog entry.
Everyone had specifically opted to write not during lunch but at home, at night, after the kids were in bed and the dog done barking outside, so that he or she could focus. Everyone needed to find the right links and tags to add to his or her key words and phrases. Everyone needed to optimize the blog so that the meaning of life would find it and be motivated to comment, because the meaning of life so much enjoyed, for example, Popsi Cola, the taste that refreshes, and would want to know more. “What do you think of Popsi Cola, the taste that refreshes?” everyone would have asked, had he or she continued to write. “Is there any soda that compares?”
Instead, everyone turned.
The vacuum cleaner was behind everyone.
The vacuum cleaner should have been in the laundry room, not in the dining room where everyone’s desk was. Then everyone remembered: everyone had left the vacuum in the hall, where everyone had had to vacuum up dog puke. The dog had not gone to bark outside. It had puked and gone to everyone’s room to pretend death.
Everyone stood and went to the vacuum.
“In here, lunkhead,” the vacuum called.
Everyone looked around the room--at the small dining room table of mammoth thickness and six equally pompous charts, the bowl of oranges atop the table, the cheap chandelier from which what looked like clear plastic knives dangled. There were no closets in which to hide, and the room, expunged of the usual hobgoblin of papers and dirty dishes, offered no decent crevices.
“In here, lunkhead,” the vacuum called again. And then it shook, almost jumped.
Everyone looked down. A hand was protruding from the vacuum’s mouth.
Everyone tipped the vacuum over, shook the hand, pulled on it.
“Ow,” the vacuum said. “I’m not going to get out like this.”
Everyone danced a bit, uncertain what to do.
“Don’t just stand there,” the vacuum said.
Everyone ran to the garage, sorted through his or her tools--wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, lug nuts--grabbed the whole box, returned to the dining room, and began dismantling the vacuum.
The vacuum sighed impatiently.
“You know how many weeks I’ve been in here?” the vacuum asked.
Everyone strained to pull the bag loose. It was jammed. Opening it was like opening a window on a glass skyscraper. Everyone had to use the full force of his or her arms, and still opening it took an inordinate amount of time, as if everyone were playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with an abstraction.
Harvey pushed the bag up with his hands, unveiling himself. Harvey was everyone’s boss at the janitorial job everyone had had cleaning random office buildings.
Everyone stared. Harvey was covered in dust--and he smelled. Dog puke caked the shins of his pants.
Harvey sucked in the warm air of the room.
“Finally,” Harvey said. “You finally listen.”
“How’d you get in there?” everyone asked.
“How do you think?” Harvey grumbled.
Harvey sat down at the computer, let out a breath. “I got to write some e-mails,” he said, “let people know where I am.”
“Of course,” everyone said. Everyone still wasn’t sure how Harvey had managed to get in the vacuum, but he or she didn’t want to risk angering Harvey by asking again. “You want something to drink?” everyone asked. “You must be thirsty.”
Harvey read what was on the screen. “What is this crap?” he asked.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
When everyone could not sleep, everyone often got on her or his computer to talk with the Internet, everyone’s closest friend, especially now that everyone’s spouse had left her or him. The Internet knew all of humanity, including everyone’s spouse, though it refused to state exactly where everyone’s spouse had gone.
Instead, everyone had had to rely on rumor and innuendo. In the process, everyone had discovered that her or his spouse had run off with what she or he and others called the meaning of life.
Everyone had then begun a search for the meaning of life. Everyone had begged the Internet for the meaning of life’s whereabouts. The Internet had complied, but it refused to force the meaning of life to talk with everyone. The Internet claimed it could not work that way. It asked everyone, How would you like it if I tried to force you to talk with someone you didn’t want to talk with?
Everyone had come to see that if everyone wanted to talk with the meaning of life, everyone would have to encourage the meaning of life to come to her or him. And so everyone had started a blog novel, with the hope that it would attract the meaning of life.
But the jacket--and its relation to J. D. and everyone’s spouse--everyone could not let it go, not even at night, when everyone was tired and wanting to sleep. Everyone asked the Internet to show her or him plaid jackets it had collected over the years. The Internet happened to be a connoisseur of plaid jackets. It had thousands--perhaps millions--the Internet wasn’t sure. The Internet was obnoxiously rich. It had millions of everything.
Everyone had to narrow the Internet’s search. Everyone asked for plaid that featured only the colors red, green, and white. The Internet had plenty--it still didn’t know how many--but none of the ones it showed everyone were quite the jacket everyone was looking for.
Everyone asked the Internet what it knew about J. D.
The Internet was evasive. It gave everyone J. D.’s birth year and a list of some addresses J. D. had lived at but nothing else.
The Internet had provided similarly useless or defunct information about everyone’s spouse.
Everyone suspected that the Internet knew more, and everyone was miffed. The Internet would tell everyone oodles of stuff about people everyone had no desire to know more about, such as Olympic gold medalist Bryce Janner or socialites like Nicky Riché, but when it came to things that mattered to everyone--affairs that might affect everyone personally--the Internet clammed up.
Everyone wanted to smack the Internet, but everyone restrained her- or himself. Everyone knew how the Internet could be, how it could shut down over the slightest disagreement. One good pop in the face, and the Internet would go off. This was a great irony, of course, since one of the things the Internet collected in bulk was gory photographs, which it often showed to others. The Internet was a bit kinky--actually, very kinky. Everyone generally turned the Internet down when it tried to show everyone such photos.
Everyone asked the Internet what it knew about the meaning of life. It was an old question. The Internet often gave the same response. But the Internet had been little help with the jacket and even less help with J. D. and everyone’s spouse, so everyone was desperate for something about which to converse.
This time, the Internet offered something different.
It offered, in fact, the jacket.
The Internet showed the meaning of life reclining on a patio lounge chair next to a swimming pool. The sun glistened against the meaning of life’s skin, tiny shadows where water droplets from the pool still resided. The meaning of life was wearing sunglasses and looked both incredibly cool and incredibly hot. As usual, the meaning of life wore a smile, a smug one that bespoke its position among humanity: The meaning of life had everything everyone could ever want and knew it.
One of those things was the jacket. It was lying beside the meaning of life’s torso, cast there as if it were something the meaning of life put on and took off at the pool every day of the week with barely a thought.
Everyone saved the photograph to her or his desktop.
Everyone opened the photograph in the computer’s picture viewer, blew it up, examined each pixel as if it were a contest prize monogrammed to the inside of a Popsi soda bottle cap. The pixels were beautiful--each and every one of them.
Everyone couldn’t sleep, and everyone didn’t care.
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Everyone wanted the meaning of life or his or her former spouse to visit the blog. But everyone figured that the meaning of life would only visit blogs that had many followers, like, over a thousand at the least. And everyone’s spouse would only visit blogs that the meaning of life visited. Everyone was desperate.
Everyone asked the Internet why readers were not descending on his or her blog. Everyone had asked this question many times. In fact, everyone asked this question pretty much every time everyone checked his or her readership statistics, which was each week after everyone visited the blog entry he or she had just posted.
The Internet had grown tired of the question and offered the same responses it always offered.
The Internet had offered everyone much useful advice in the past, but everyone had failed to heed it. The Internet had told everyone, “Do not blog your novel,” but everyone blogged it anyway. The Internet told everyone to include pictures and links and tags; everyone complied by adding a few extra tags but not much else. The Internet told everyone to join social networks, to seek out guest bloggers, or to become a guest blogger, but everyone claimed to lack the time.
After that, the Internet screamed at everyone the same thing it always did.
Finally, on this day, everyone listened.
“Who do you want as your audience?” the Internet screamed.
Everyone had not previously given the question the serious consideration it demanded. Everyone had assumed that what was of interest to everyone would appeal to all of humanity, and what would appeal to all of humanity would appeal to the meaning of life and, by extension, to everyone’s spouse. But everyone’s audience was not, in fact, all of humanity. It was, at its most basic level, solely the meaning of life. Hence, if everyone wanted the meaning of life to take an interest in his or her blog, everyone needed to focus on what was of interest to the meaning of life. What did the meaning of life want from life? What was the meaning of life searching for?
Everyone didn’t know, but the Internet had already pointed the way. The Internet had introduced everyone to the meaning of life’s blog. “Concentrate,” the Internet had said, “on what your audience loves and desires, as expressed in its choice of content.”
The meaning of life’s blog displayed photographs of happy and successful people at leisure. “So,” the Internet now explained to everyone, “the meaning of life must be interested in leisure and success and happiness.”
The meaning of life’s website included advertising. You could buy the meaning of life. “Which means,” the Internet continued, “that the meaning of life must be into business or sales or both.”
“Or prostitution,” everyone quipped.
Everyone was really dense. “You have to sell yourself,” the Internet explained pedantically, “whether you’re a librarian proffering archiving skills or a janitor who vacuums floors. That’s how life works. You have to sell your blog, peddle your novel. That’s what every piece of advice I’ve offered has been trying to tell you: how to go about marketing yourself and your work.”
Everyone groaned. Everyone did not like sales. Everyone wanted to write and have the meaning of life come to him or her naturally because everyone was a genius.
“You’re not a genius,” the Internet told everyone. “Geniuses listen.”