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 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.

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