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, September 25, 2016

Everyone Reads a Great Work of American Enterprise

Everyone had been invited to the reading by his or her child Star. Star was dead, but reading aloud to a live audience was something Star had great enthusiasm for, which was why everyone felt an obligation to appear. Everyone planned to read from his or her blog. The blog was about everyone’s search for the meaning of life after the death of his or her child Star, or the loss of his or her spouse or of his or her coworkers Harvey and J. D., or the disappearance of his or her child Jan, or the loss of $5092. Everyone wasn’t sure which. Everyone had lost a lot.

This explained why everyone was having trouble beginning. The blog was supposed to be a novel, though the Internet said it hardly qualified. The Internet was against everyone’s novel--because it was jealous, everyone imagined.

Everyone brought screen captures of the blog to the reading so that he or she would not have to depend on the Internet to supply a copy.

The reading was in a room on Skype that looked like a coffee shop. There were a couple of tables with chairs, three couches, a recliner, and a set of bookshelves that featured important works by important authors, such as Quacker Oats Cereal by the Popsi Cola Corporation, Busty Cooker’s Bakeware by the Genial Miles Corporation, and Wheet Thicks by the Kneebisko Corporation. Everyone was proud to be among such celebrated works of American enterprise, for nothing bespoke success like market share. Everyone hoped his or her blog would soon find a home among such works.

Everyone ordered a coffee and waited. The clerk ignored everyone, however, and that’s when everyone realized the coffee was self-serve, so everyone served. The coffee tasted homemade.

A chair sat in front of the shelves. The chair stared into a camera mounted on a computer. Everyone sat in it.

Four people had read before everyone. These people now sat on couches waiting for everyone to begin. Everyone expected more, so everyone waited.

The four people grew restless. One person stood up and stretched, then went outside, leaving the screen. Another went to make coffee.

Everyone realized he or she needed to begin before more disappeared. Everyone wasn’t sure where. The key, however, was to begin. That’s what the Internet would have said.

Everyone began.

Everyone opened the folder in which he or she had placed the printouts from the blog. Inside was everyone’s tax return from the previous year. Stapled to it was a letter from the IRS. The letter said everyone owed $5092. It said this boldly, in bold letters.

Everyone looked for the chapter “Everyone Starts a Blog.”

The next item in the folder was a letter from everyone’s coworker Sam. The letter threatened everyone with legal action if he or she continued to use Sam’s name on the blog.

Next was a bill from Star’s surgeon, asking for compensation for his or her heart of gold, and a bill from a window company, and an ad for a sedan from the Misery Beanz Corporation.

Another person rose from his or her seat and took hold of the jacket resting on its back. The person beside rose as well.

The person with the new cup of coffee took a deep gulp. “I’ll come with you,” the coffee drinker said.

The room was empty.

Everyone stared into the camera, looked down at his or her folder: a vacuum cleaner ad, a vet bill, a bill for a cemetery memorial.

Everyone looked back up at the camera and gave a wan smile.

Everyone began: “Account summary. Previous balance: $5092. Payments and credits . . .”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Everyone Needs a Monument to Grieve

Journey had come upon the idea via the Internet. Journey had long regretted eating up everyone’s $5092 fortune in chocolate, and Journey wanted to make things right.

The Internet told Journey, who was only eight and thus required special care, in the highest, most condescending, and sing-song voice it could manage, that often when people do something that causes real harm, so much harm that the person or item can’t be replaced, people erect a memorial.

The Internet showed Journey photographs of cemeteries. The cemeteries featured mostly headstones. Journey liked most the cemeteries that had life-size reproductions of people and animals or fountains and pools into which one could drop one’s feet.

Journey’s favorite monument was a stone merry-go-round that rotated when one pushed on it. Said push would activate a water pump that spewed lemonade onto riders and, if one was seated at the proper height, directly into a rider’s mouth. The memorial was for a horse jockey who had died in a game of musical chairs played on saddles mounted on live horses sponsored by Minuet-Made Lemonade.

Journey decided to create a memorial to the $5092. Journey wanted to help everyone grieve for the $5092 in a healthy and productive manner.

The memorial featured fifty one-hundred-dollar bills, four twenties, a ten, and two ones. The currency was mounted atop a giant stone candy bowl, peaking out of it. The candy bowl was ten times the size of a human. Leaning up against it was a candy bar the size of a vacuum cleaner, and next to it was a life-size figurine of a child eying the candy greedily. The child was in the back seat of a car made of granite (fashioned to look like Laygos, the attachable bricks so popular with the under-ten crowd). The driver’s side door of the car was open and off its hinges so that people could curl up in the front seat when it was raining. But the focus of the monument really was the $5092, highlighted by lamps shining up from below and covered in gold plating made from the melted-down heart of a child. In fact, it was gold, which Journey had found in the back of everyone’s closet, that Journey used to pay for the memorial and for the spinner that twirled the money around atop the bowl and for the chocolate milk that came out of the top of the bowl on special occasions, special occasions such as this, the dedication, spewing down the bowl’s side like mud.

Journey stood in front of the bowl next to the candy bar, waiting for the chocolate to run down to where Journey was. The bowl was in the middle of the Dasney Amusement Park Mall. The prime location had been arranged at a discount by Sam, a friend of Journey who was acquainted with everyone and the mall.

“How do you like it?” Journey asked everyone.

Everyone was crying, no doubt, very moved.

Journey took a finger, ran it along the bowl, stuck it in her or his mouth.

Aw, chocolate!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Everyone Loses a Jacket

Everyone stood at the window looking down at Harvey. He seemed to be flying. Harvey held out his arms and let them ruffle like two empty vacuum cleaner bags in the wind. As he moved closer to the earth, his arms took on weight, the air filling up space with his jacket.

It was not enough.

Everyone would have heard the splat if Harvey had not landed in the bushes and if the sound of the wind had not been so powerful twelve stories up. Everyone held on to the window’s edge, not wanting to fall. Everyone was uncertain what to do. No one had arrived at work yet except everyone. Everyone watched and waited. Harvey did not seem to be moving--only his jacket, unfurling in the wind.

Everyone backed away from the window and took out his or her cell phone. But he or she did not call emergency. Harvey had jumped voluntarily, as if he knew the result would not be death and he was now waiting below for everyone to come to him.

At the bushes, everyone found the jacket just as he or she had seen it from the office above--wanting to take off, like a bird whose boneless wings were too shapeless to effect flight.

“Harvey,” everyone called, but no one called back.

Everyone dialed emergency.

The jacket held on to a twig, pleading for someone to recover it before it was stolen by the wind.

“My coworker,” everyone said into the phone, “he jumped.” Everyone felt as if he or she had stood at the bushes looking at the jacket before. Everyone crawled into the shrubs. Perhaps, Harvey had slipped into them.

Everyone gave his or her location to the emergency operator.

“Is he alive?” the operator asked.

“I don’t know,” everyone said. “I can’t find him.”

The bushes held all the city’s trash of the past two hundred years: Styrofoam cups and Popsi Cola cans, giant chocolate bar wrappers and a program from the local playhouse for its updated production of a medieval play, a copy of Lestie’s Illustrated Newspaper and a rusting horseshoe.

Everyone was confused. So was the emergency operator.

Everyone stood up. He or she was at the center of the bushes, his or her head above them posing like a bowling ball on the top shelf at a bowling alley. The jacket was beside him or her, still gripping the twig. People everyone knew were entering the building--Alice and Sam, a person in a plaid jacket not unlike the one beside everyone in the bushes. Everyone turned to look at the jacket again.

It was gone.

Above everyone, the jacket floated. It appeared to be flying, up, up, up.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Everyone Dithers over Whom to Ask for Advice

Everyone was having a crisis of confidence. Everyone had made the mistake of rereading her or his blog and had come to the conclusion that it was not as good as everyone had thought it was.

First was the problem that the novel everyone was posting started in the wrong place. I should have started with chapter 4, everyone ventured, being most intrigued from that entry on, but when everyone tried to do without the first three blog chapters, the novel did not make sense. Everyone could have rearranged the order of the chapters, but everyone had already posted them.

I told you so,” the Internet told everyone when she or he asked how to correct the problem. The Internet was out to prove a point, everyone surmised, and it wasn’t interested in helping. After all, if it did and everyone managed to salvage the novel, the Internet’s earlier directive not to blog one’s novel (at least not until one was finished writing it) would be proven wrong. The Internet had an ego, as everyone was finding out. This was an issue when the Internet was one’s closest friend and the one to whom one turned in times of need.

Others everyone might have called included her or his coworker J. D., who next to the Internet probably knew the most about everything, especially about rules, but everyone had not seen J. D. in months.

Harvey would have been a good coworker to query, if it were not for his deep relationship with the Internet. Everyone knew Harvey to be wise and spiritual, the way the Internet could be, which explained why Harvey talked so often with it. This close friendship, in turn, made everyone doubt that Harvey would be able to dispense useful advice, since the Internet more than likely would mention, if it had not already, everyone’s problem to Harvey with a gloating smirk, making Harvey leery to contradict something his good friend had said.

Everyone’s coworker Sam would have been an excellent resource, but he or she had a crush on everyone, mostly, it appeared now, because everyone reminded Sam of a time when J. D. had been more of a regular at the office. Everyone found Sam extremely attractive but mostly because Sam was of the opposite gender the way everyone’s spouse had been. And since everyone was still hoping to get that spouse back, using Sam for recommendations seemed imprudent.

Who everyone really wanted to talk with about the blog, however, was the meaning of life. The meaning of life was at the core of everyone’s dissatisfaction with the blog. Everyone knew the meaning of life read the blog. Everyone and the meaning of life talked on the phone nearly every night. But still, the meaning of life had neither proposed nor assented to an in-person rendezvous. Everyone was worried about her or his figure and had been dieting in anticipation of meeting, and yet everyone was beginning to think that the meaning of life was stringing her or him along. What sort of joy the meaning of life got out of this constant postponing everyone could not figure, but she or he hypothesized that it went back to the meaning of life’s love for hide-and-go-seek, a game everyone had thought people lost interest in by the age of ten.

Then, to make matters worse, last week everyone had found out that her or his child Jody had told the Internet that she or he was too embarrassed to let her or his friend, the famous actor Clint Gabble, meet everyone because everyone was so short of being successful. Jody pointed specifically at everyone’s blog novel. This shocked everyone not only because she or he had thought the blog an impressive work of art that had managed--if only recently--to grab the meaning of life’s attention but because everyone had thought, judging from the analytics the Internet constantly ran for everyone, that no one actually read her or his blog.

Everyone wasn’t sure which was worse--to have no one read it or to have people read it and be embarrassed by how bad it was.

Everyone gave in and called Sam.