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, July 31, 2016

Everyone Waits for an Important Phone Call

Everyone and the meaning of life had arranged to have a phone call. The call was to come in two minutes. Everyone was nervous. Everyone was drinking water and eating carrots to pass the time, which was slow.

Everyone wanted a cola, but everyone had just finished one ten minutes ago, and everyone was supposed to be on a diet. Everyone, in fact, had finished not just one but one six-pack. Everyone had drunk Handsome Cola, a diet soda. Everyone was poor and trying to lose weight. Handsome Cola was cheap and low on calories and could be purchased from the market on the corner three blocks from everyone’s office. Thus, it was a constant temptation, especially when the workday was long and the window was open and the smell of Popsi Cola wafted in from the outdoor eateries below.

Handsome Cola was not Popsi Cola. Everyone preferred Popsi Cola, and so far as he or she could tell, the meaning of life preferred it also. In photographs on the meaning of life’s blog, beautiful people held cans of the cola at waist height as they stood on a motorboat in the middle of a body of water. But Popsi Cola was comparatively expensive and had a high calorie count.

Everyone was not at the office, however. Everyone was at home. The four kids were in bed for the night. Everyone was supposed to be posting an entry on his or her blog, but everyone was waiting for the phone call before he or she wrote the conclusion. Outside, the dog was barking. It was a medium-sized dog with matted hair. The children were very close to it, but only when everyone mentioned getting rid of it. Otherwise, the children ignored it, like now, or pushed it out the door so that it would not be in their way. The dog was irritating. Everyone bit a carrot.

Everyone asked the Internet why the call was taking so long to come. The Internet said that time seems to slow down at moments of great importance because more is being written into one’s brain’s memory so that one will be able to respond more efficiently when similar situations arise in the future. Everyone had asked the question rhetorically. Everyone wondered sometimes why he or she remained friends with the Internet. The Internet was rarely sympathetic and often shut down when everyone needed it most or gave stupid answers like this.

And then the phone rang.

Everyone jumped. The dog barked.

Everyone took a sip of water, another one, another. Everyone needed to pick up the receiver before the phone stopped ringing, but everyone was unsure what he or she was going to say after answering it. Everyone had been practicing for weeks--indeed, months--the lines, and yet everyone had still not learned them. In fact, everyone had not yet discovered them.

Outside the dog was still barking. The dog would keep everyone from being able to hear. Everyone needed to answer the phone.

Everyone did.

“Hello,” everyone said. The line was so simple, everyone could hardly believe he or she had been so nervous. A calm came over everyone. Everyone had answered the phone.

The voice on the phone asked if this was everyone. The voice sounded like that of a large person of another ethnicity. It was not at all what everyone had imagined.

“It is,” everyone said.

The voice laughed. “I bet you’re relieved,” the voice said, “after all this time, to talk to me. I bet you’ve been thinking a lot about me.”

Everyone agreed.

“Well,” the voice said, “you’re going to be thinking about me a lot more after I tell you this,” the voice said.

But alas, the dog came to the window, and its barks were not to be restrained.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Everyone Proves Seductive to the Opposite Sex

Everyone needed to know where the body had come from, what the light was that everyone had seen behind it.

The lobby was dark as everyone strode through, the security guards defunct for the night, the food in the tiny café glowing ghostily under futile display lamps. The elevator bank was dead too, a graveyard of metal upright caskets. Everyone emptied her or his security card into its beckoning slot, watched the light switch from red to green, then stepped into the elevator and requested the twelfth floor.

Everyone found the twelfth floor lighted up as if a baseball game were being played at night, fluorescents beaming so brightly across cubicles that her or his eyes hurt.

“I’ve been expecting you,” everyone’s coworker Sam said, coming to the doorway of her or his office. Sam was barefoot, a sleeping robe encasing her or his frame.

Everyone had long known of Sam’s crush on her or him, but everyone had never thought Sam sexy in the way that everyone’s spouse had been. Everyone felt embarrassed and confused. Everyone wondered whether being alone with Sam made a difference or whether everyone’s perceptions had been wrong about Sam these many months. Either way, everyone at this moment found her- or himself wanting Sam with a desperation known only to toads that mate solely one day a year.

“Come,” Sam said, summoning everyone with the turn of her or his body, the flash of skin at the back of the shins too much for everyone to resist.

Sam’s modular desk had been transformed into a bed, sheets pulled down and ready for occupation. Above them, the romantic glow of a fire titillated on the computer. Sam sat down, pulled a champagne glass and bottle from the shelf beside the bed, and poured. She or he patted the bed for everyone.

Everyone looked around. Sam handed the wine to everyone, took another glass for her- or himself, and drank.

Everyone sat. Sam placed an arm around everyone and kissed her or his cheek. Everyone flinched. Sam laughed, pulled everyone into her- or himself.

“Don’t worry,” Sam said. “Your spouse isn’t coming back.”

Everyone studied the photograph on the shelf next to the wine bottle. Everyone’s spouse stood on a motorboat at night. Lights glinted off the water. The spouse was smiling, holding a can of Popsi Cola at waist height with her or his right hand. The spouse appeared fit and tan--better than everyone remembered the spouse looking. An arm was around the spouse, the flesh of a torso. The person beside everyone’s spouse wore shades and a baseball cap. Everyone knew this person. This person gave the spouse’s life meaning.

Sam pushed everyone down on the bed, wrapped her or his body around everyone’s, kissed everyone, began taking off clothes.

“We’ve got to find Jan,” everyone heard. “Everyone’s going to be angry at us if we don’t.”

“You’re the one who insisted on running the vacuum,” Star said. Star was everyone’s second child.

“You were told to stay away from the window,” Jody, everyone’s first, said.

“I did,” Star said.

“It was Jan’s decision,” everyone’s third, Journey, proffered.

Everyone pushed her- or himself up. Sam tugged.

“The children,” everyone said.

Sam stood, pulled off her or his robe, put her or his weight against everyone, slammed everyone into the mattress.

“Our children!” Sam insisted.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Everyone’s Children Participate in Sibling Rivalries

The local playhouse was holding auditions for the role of Goods in its newest play. Goods was a capitalistic character, and Star readily identified.

Star had a literal heart of gold that had cost thousands of dollars. One of Star’s parents had lost $5092 several months ago and was still mourning. Star’s sibling Journey was obsessed with consuming chocolate. And Star’s other parent had run away with a rich person and had been exceedingly happy since.

Star wanted to be rich too--and famous--like the actor who voiced John Quincy Adams at the Dasney Amusement Park Malls, Clint Gabble. Star wanted to have a love affair and to have periodicals follow it. Star was ten years old, and the time in which such things could happen was fleeting.

At the audition, Star practiced his or her lines as others lined up to try out. These others included a person in a plaid jacket whom Star found vaguely familiar, as if one of his or her parents had worked or run away with the person. Another would-be actor was a guy who brought with him a wheelbarrow worth of toasters, as if profligate spending could seal the role. Then there was a woman with very tall hair who kept sticking knitting pins inside it as if the hair were a voodoo doll representing the other auditioners. Star felt vaguely intimidated and calmed him- or herself with these words:

Sir, if ye in the world have sorrow or adversity,
That can I help you to remedy shortly.

Goods was a fine fellow. Star felt ready.

And then a more familiar form came into Star’s purview: his or her twelve-year-old sibling Jody. Jody was wearing a jumpsuit covered in dollar bills. The dollar bills amounted to $5092.

Star had ridden to the audition with Sam, a coworker of one of his or her parents. Sam was the one who had first inspired Star to audition by taking Star to see the John Quincy Adams animatronic robot at the Dasney Mall.

Seeing Jody was a surprise, and Star was uncertain how or why his or her sibling was here. Given Jody’s costume, Star worried that Jody was trying out for the role of Goods as well. Star had worked hard to memorize his or her part, but Jody, being two years older, was much more worldly and conceivably would be better able to render Goods as a full person who engendered passion from those who would act in and attend the play.

Both Jody and Star had learned about character from their friend the Internet. The Internet had told them that character was made of three things: trust, faithfulness, and hard work. Add to that experience, action, and consistency, and a character’s true portrayal was assured.

Star had conceived of Goods as cold and objective the way Clint Gabble had rendered John Quincy Adams, as well as Gina Monrovia’s love interest in The Real Mr. Keen. Goods was to be cool. Star had invested in Goods all the way down to his or her heart of gold. Goods was to be an amalgam of all the relatives who were part of Star’s life.

Who got the part, Star realized, would come down to which characterization of Goods prevailed with the directors.

But Star could not help but worry about Jody. Jody had all the same relatives and was known to be something of a snot and could quote a full lexicon of fart jokes. If Jody managed to quote one at the audition and made the producers laugh, he or she might manage to steal the role.

Desperate situations require decisive action, Star recalled from the advice he or she had received--namely, violence.

Star covered his or her face and strode toward Jody. When within a few feet, Star leaped, hands held out to snatch as many dollars from Jody’s costume as possible.

“Sir, if ye in the world have sorrow or adversity,” Star yelled as he or she came up from the dive, twenty-two dollars in hand, “That can I help to shortly remedy.”

Jody, full of sanctimonious talent, stood firm and calm as he or she rendered the following lines:

In wealth and woe will you hold,
For over his kin a man may be bold.

With that, Jody turned away from Star, tilted his or her bottom into the air, and let one rip.

Everyone laughed.

Star had not known one of his or her parents was at the audition.

Others joined in the laughing too. Somehow, Jody had managed to merge sanctimoniousness and slapstick.

A man in a black beret ran over and hoisted Jody’s arm above his head. “Brilliant,” the man said, taking a few dollars from Jody’s costume and stuffing them into his pocket. “Absolutely brilliant.”

Others in berets strode up then and surrounded Jody.

A woman stepped out from among them with a cap, put it on Jody’s head, and took a few dollars. “You are Kindred,” she said. “You are Kindred.”

Star wished he or she could rip out his or her heart and hand it over. As it was, Star had only twenty-two dollars to offer.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Everyone Has a Friend Who Knows Someone Important

“You want the meaning of life?” Harvey asked. “I know the meaning of life. I’m your boss. You should have asked. We’re like that.” Harvey held his index and middle fingers up together. Tiny pieces of plastic fell from Harvey’s hand. “I need a bath,” Harvey said. “Imagine me, a custodial engineer, looking like this.”

Everyone wasn’t listening. Everyone was thinking about what Harvey had said about the meaning of life. Everyone couldn’t believe she or he had spent half a year writing a blog to find the meaning of life when Harvey had known the meaning of life all along.

“Where is the meaning of life?” everyone asked.

Harvey patted down his shirt and pants. Dust rose into the air. “I really need a bath,” Harvey reiterated.

Everyone had no time for baths. “How do you know the meaning of life?” everyone asked. “What does it look like?”

Everyone thought she or he sort of knew the answer to the last question, though at times, everyone questioned whether she or he had found the true meaning of life or simply a poser.

The meaning of life had a blog. On it were hundreds of photographs of trim, smiling people with tans standing on a motorboat with Popsi Colas in their hands. The meaning of life stood next to each of these people, wearing shades and a baseball cap. But everyone could not get a good look at the face--not at the eyes nor at the hair. Still, everyone noted, by the white teeth and the lack of wrinkles, that the meaning of life seemed exceptionally young for being so famous and rich.

Harvey unbuttoned his shirt, shook out a vacuum cleaner’s worth of dirt, laid it on everyone’s dining room table. Harvey’s chest hair was stickered with white droplets shaped like kilobytes--lice eggs, skin, three-week-old linguini sauce, puke. Harvey pulled on the longest with the fingertips of his thumb and index finger, squeegeeing off the mess. “It’s a dirty business,” Harvey said.

“Never mind that,” everyone said.

Everyone grabbed the hose of the vacuum cleaner sitting beside her or his desk, turned it on, began sucking at Harvey’s chest.

Harvey stared at the nozzle on his torso, grabbed it, then ran the hose left to right, up to down, the upper half of his body. “There’s nothing quite like seeing something come clean to give me a sense of accomplishment,” Harvey said.

Dirt continued to cake off Harvey’s skin.

“But,” everyone said, over the din of the vacuum cleaner.

“The meaning of life,” Harvey said, assenting now to everyone’s earlier question, as the hose continued down his body, “is all about cleanliness, accomplishment, doing what you love with your whole heart. That’s why I started this business.”

“So you could meet the meaning of life?” everyone asked.

Harvey nodded, moved the nozzle to his back. “Before,” Harvey said, “I simply existed, cataloging experiences--and really more other people’s experiences than my own. I wasn’t living. I was letting others live for me--I was living their lives.”

Harvey turned off the vacuum, looked at his pants, shook his head. “I really need a bath,” he said.

“But my spouse,” everyone asked now, desperate, “do you think? Do you think that if I found the meaning of life, I could find my spouse?”

Harvey stared at everyone. “Works for some people,” he said. “But like I said, I think you really have to find meaning yourself. No one in the end can help you. I mean, the meaning of life doesn’t hang out with just one person.”

“I’ve seen the photos,” everyone acknowledged.

“Never seen one myself,” Harvey said. “I find the meaning of life every time I polish a desktop or clean off a mirror. I work hard, and there, meaning is, every time, staring right back at me.”

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Everyone Loves Compliments

Everyone had been asleep when the meaning of life left a comment on his or her blog. “I feel so weird doing this,” the meaning of life said. “I’ve never left a comment on someone else’s blog before, but what you wrote about the taste that refreshes--it moved me. Then I read everything else you wrote starting with ‘Everyone Starts a Blog,’ and I couldn’t help but cry. All this stuff about me--I mean, you really think that much of me? I wanted to send you an e-mail, but I couldn’t find your address or your apparent earlier messages. I remember them vaguely. I must have been a bit out if it when I wrote that stuff about your spouse. I mean, I do know him or her--and he or she is wonderful--but I wouldn’t talk about bedroom performance in public like that. I’m much more classy, as you can tell from the photos on my blog. Anyway, come find me at the marina. You know I have a boat and love it and am there almost all the time. Call me--leave a message. I’ll get back to you, I promise. Your spouse speaks highly of you.”

Everyone was taken aback by the comment’s sycophantic tone. Everyone wondered if this was another joke. Everyone had been searching for the meaning of life for half a year and had had just one previous contact and that unpleasant. Everyone wondered what his or her spouse had said about everyone that the meaning of life would want to be met so badly. Everyone was nothing like the meaning of life. Everyone was not happy or rich. Everyone did not have a tan. Everyone was not fit. Everyone had given up Popsi Cola--the meaning of life’s favorite drink, as well as everyone’s--nine months earlier in a futile attempt to lose weight to attract back his or her spouse, futile because everyone had actually gained twenty-two pounds since starting his or her diet.

Everyone’s mind raced like a body falling from a twelve-story office building. This did not bode well, because a body inevitably hit the ground.

Everyone asked his or her friend the Internet for contact information for the marina. Everyone was supposed to be readying for work. Everyone had children to wake, a dog to feed, oatmeal to cook and eat, a bus to meet. Everyone didn’t care. Everyone was living in the now. No day like today to do what you could do tomorrow, everyone thought.

The Internet was annoyed. Everyone had barely said hello and now he or she wanted all kinds of information about the meaning of life. It was the Internet who had helped everyone contact the meaning of life in the first place: had suggested starting a blog, had told everyone how to write it, had showed everyone the meaning of life’s website. The Internet had been around for everyone all along, and it had gotten nary a word of thanks. The Internet felt taken for granted.

The Internet went off.

Everyone continued to type excitedly into his or her computer, but the Internet wasn’t listening.

It took a couple of minutes for everyone to notice, and when everyone did, he or she grew angry too--of all the times for the Internet to go silent, this would be it.

Everyone refused to give in to the Internet’s bullying. Everyone picked up his or her phone and dialed. “Information please,” everyone said. “I want the number for the marina.”

“Which one?” the voice asked. Everyone felt as if he or she had not heard a voice in his or her home other than that of the kids in months, and everyone was moved to tears. Everyone was reminded of the spouse who had left. The spouse was like an operator wanting clarity. Everyone could rarely supply it. Everyone could not supply it now. Which marina?

Everyone needed the Internet.

Everyone typed into his or her computer. The Internet was still not listening. Everyone decided to write a message, post it later.

“Dear meaning of life,” everyone wrote. “Got your comment. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. I was thinking of you when I began writing it. Please tell me more about yourself. You can e-mail me at blognovelisteveryone@gmail.com.

Everyone realized that he or she was writing sycophantically as well. It was as if everyone and the meaning of life were in love with each other and could not wait to meet. Everyone knew what this meant: he or she would be disappointed.  That is how love worked. That is how it had worked with everyone’s spouse, who had left everyone for the meaning of life. But the spouse had stayed with the meaning of life, so perhaps the meaning of life was the real deal.

Everyone had to take that chance.