Shoulda Been a Wizard
1172 words long
Shoulda been a wizard, shoulda learned to cast a spell...
Notes from the author:
Rachel Aaron says, in her book 2K to 10K, that when a writer avoids writing, it’s because the writer doesn’t like what she’s writing. Something is wrong with the project, or with the writer’s current approach to the project, resulting in a writing experience that’s not enjoyable. I think this is a comforting diagnosis insofar as it’s something other than “The writer’s a lazy twit” or “The writer was never meant to be a writer.” But it’s a daunting assessment, too. It indicates a lot of hard work ahead, and that much of the effort expended thus far went, for all intents and purposes, to waste.
This fictionette here suffered from a lot of avoidance over the week. If Aaron is correct (and I think she is), that means there was a lot I didn’t like about it. And indeed, that seems to have been the case. I didn’t like the premise, to begin with. Couldn’t see a story worth telling in it. Didn’t look forward to spending a half hour here and a half hour there flailing around inside that premise to find a story. Once I’d found a story to tell, I couldn’t see where I was going with it at all. Things finally came unlocked when I figured out what exactly the man in the bar wanted. But then I got disheartened by having to convey it in so few words.
Now that it’s finished, I’m more or less pleased with where it ended up. Still, there was a whole heck of a lot of “don’t wanna” involved in getting it here. Writing can be like that. I think that’s important to acknowledge once in a while.
Waking up in the dark with a meaner headache than just drink can count for. Neck’s got an awful crick, but I can’t seem to move it. Can’t seem to move anything hardly at all. Door creaks open. Footsteps soft on carpeted floor. Then on come the lights, all of a sudden, nothing to see but bright, bright, bright.
Slowly make out the shape of a man sitting in a chair cross the room from the bed. I’m lying on a hotel bed. Hotel room. I was in a hotel bar. That’s where I was talking to—
That man. That man right there. Sitting cross the room from me, watching me wake up.
“What do you plan to do with your life?” the man had asked. No kind of question to ask a stranger. Not quite a stranger, course, I seen him there moping over a cheap beer every Friday night since ever and all. Never wanted nothing to do with him. Didn’t take a genius to see he had him some kind of trouble, didn’t want none of it splashing on me. But he’d called me over tonight, all You, come here, and a man don’t ignore that less he wants to start a fight. I didn’t want to start nothing. I went on over, see what he wanted.
What he wanted, turned out, was to buy me a drink. Same foul piss-water he swills every week, cheap bastard. Not much I could do about that. Someone buys you a drink, you drink the damn drink. Just manners.
Not that he’s got any manners to speak of. “Go on, tell me. What kind of future do you envision for yourself? Or do you even think about the future, beyond anticipating your next chance to drink your paycheck away?”
Drink halfway to my mouth, I put it down again. Glared at him. Didn’t say nothing. Who did he think he was? Thought maybe buying me a drink meant a free ticket to talk trash? And not like he wasn’t describing his own self, Friday like clockwork drinking himself stupid. Least I had taste and standards.
He just nodded, like my putting down the pint glass was the answer he was looking for. “Thought so,” he said. “Well. I have a proposition for you. I’d like to offer you a chance at a singularly rewarding future.” Took a pull on his own drink. In no hurry to make himself understood. “I have considerable funds to put at your disposal, if you accept. Go on. Drink up and I’ll tell you.”
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for October 21, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1173 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
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