This is a "protest" story I wrote in 2006 in London. It is as usual a surrealistic satire , one which marked an important turning point in my literary pursuits-a resolute farewell to literary agents. I am posting the story here on social media for one month only , before it is taken down and added to my new collection of essays and short stories which is a work in progress. Enjoy
When l switched on the light both heads turned toward me. Actually, I think both were facing me even before I turned on the lights. They wore startled expressions on their faces; eyes wide like animals arrested by sudden car lights.
I sighed in satisfaction, looking at my two captive; a man and a woman, both white. The man’s name was Walter Whittle and the woman’s Nancy Plonk; they were top management at Bookswagen Literary Agency, who had just a few hours before sent me a nasty letter about the book I had mailed to them. Whittle could have been in his mid fifties; Ms Plonk could be thirty something. I think both looked older. How I had got them here I wasn’t sure, but here they were in my study seated in straight-back chairs and with their hand bound behind the back of the chair with paper chains, that I had inventively fashioned out of a rejected book manuscript. They strained against the chains but no matter how much they struggled, they weren’t going to escape this one.
I laughed aloud like Count Dracula, and this seemed to startle them to life more than a wee bit. I could see fear on their faces. Good.
“Do you know me? “ I asked them. Both remained puzzled. No response. But the man soon picked up some confidence. Big burly guy. He looked surer of himself then the weasel-faced woman.
Whittle: I was about to ask who the hell are you.
Again I laughed.
“I am your Nemesis. I have come to make you pay for all you evil deeds. I have waited years for this moment and now I have you where I want you. I am going to make you suffer.” I said to them,
Plonk : But why?
“You mean you don’t know?”, I ask them; quite surprised.
Whittle: If we did, we wouldn’t be asking you, would we?
Now I really hate people who answer a question with another question. If these guys knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t have committed this annoying faux-pas.
“We will get to that soon”, I nevertheless chuckled; thoroughly enjoying the situation.
Whittle: Look, I don’t care who you are, and I don’t give a rat’s piss. Better take off these damn chains and let us go and I won’t press charges, otherwise I will personally ensure that you spend the rest of your miserable little life in jail .
He is revealing to a very belligerent fool as I could see; and all instincts told me to watch out for his one.
“Shut up!” I shouted to him. But he didn’t seem to care .I made an urgent mental note to work on that voice; it didn’t seem to go with the character I was attempting to project.
“Shut up you fucking asshole”, I shouted at him the second time. That did shut him up and I could see more respect in his eyes. I mean if an angry black guy tells you shut up you fucking asshole, you better shut up you fucking asshole.
Plonk: What are going to do to us?
I could see that the woman was sniveling. I better work more on this one more in the future. She seemed less sure of herself. I made another mental note. The burly guy could be trouble.
“I will leave that question hanging for a while, probably forever. You are used to that situation, I am sure”, I said to her, very coolly.
Whittle: Again I warn you, turn us loose and I will be pleased to forget all this ever happened ;otherwise you will pay heavily when we eventually get out of here. Kidnapping is a serious crime you know.
Hey, this guy was threatening me. And like he said, I could spend the rest of my life behind bars if they got me shopped. It was important for me to let them know that I was on top of the situation.
“If you ever get out you mean”, I offhandedly replied him.
Plonk: (More sniveling) .You are not going to keep us here forever are you?
“Again I leave that a question to be answered far, far in the future”, I said to her.
Whittle: And what is that suppose to mean? Express yourself intelligently, man.
Now this guy was really starting to get me pissed and I felt like whacking him over the head with the book in my hand, but I restrained myself .
“What I mean is that it is like when an author sends you his manuscripts, and then he waits months and months for a response that never comes. I am sure you are familiar with that situation?” I said to him.
Whittle: Oh; you are an author then? Definitely not of one my clients, I am sure.
He did chuckle when he said that too; very annoying fool.
“No I am not “, I replied him, shaking my head regretfully.
Whittle: You will never make it into my client list I can assure you. I don’t represent criminals.
Plonk: (seems to find her courage) Me neither.
Whittle: What have you written by the way; what thrash have you put on paper?
That insult failed to get me worked up even though I suspect that was his motive. I had arrived at the conclusion years ago, that literary agents think all authors write thrash anyway.
“I did send you a novel a year ago. The title is Bad Habit; it is about a nun who becomes a sex killer”, my response was directed to the woman.
Plonk: Oh that one. I thought it was hilarious. I am sure you didn’t write it is to be hilarious though. This sort of stuff comes to me every day and I just chuck them. I mean why would anyone be crazy enough to think up such a plot? A killer nun is a no, no.
“You did not let me know these, did you? You just chucked it. That book took me more than a year to write and you just chucked it, without giving me a reason?” I was more than a bit disappointed.
Whittle: Bad Habit - A nun turned sex killer; wonder shall never cease.
That chuckle again. I was in no mood to take anymore of that.
“Shut up asshole, I will get to you soon!” I barked at him. He did again shut up.
Plonk: It is not my business to tell people how to think like normal human being is it?
“Do I look like I am not normal to you?” I seriously asked her. She laughed. This was not going right at all. I turned my attention to the belligerent one.
“Mister, I sent you two books, both children fiction. One about six months ago; another three months ago. What have you done with them?” I asked him.
Whittle: Who are you? I get dozen of books every month, and I don’t even know who you are; so how do I know what I have done with your book?
“My name is John Ware”, I introduced myself.
Whittle: Catchy name; I give that to you.
I flashed him a smile. Maybe we could still become friends.
“Thank you. The title of the first book is The Monkey’s Tale and the second is Scalliwatty and I “
Whittle: Hmmm, the first one I don’t quite remember, I do remember the other one because of the title. Never bothered to read what was in it, but I showed the title to everyone in the office though. It gave us a good laugh all day. Scalliwatty indeed; are you sure you are okay man. I mean what sort of name is Scalliwatty. ?
“It is a children’s book. The name is supposed to make them laugh. It achieved that for you didn’t it?” I pointed out.
Whittle: ‘scuse me; you got me wrong. It was not the name that I found amusing; it was the brain behind the name. We all agreed that the author needed to be in mental home; which is a point that you have just confirmed
I was quite disappointed to hear this. I was beginning to think we could eventually become friends, me and this guy.
“You could have at least read the book; it is an interesting story”, I told the man.
Whittle: No it is not an interesting story. I know what interests children and that is not one of them.
“You do? Do you have any children?” I asked him.
Whittle: I don’t have any children and I bloody well don’t see what that has to do with this issue.
It was clear to me that he really didn’t get it.
“Have you ever closely interacted with children? Played with them, sang them a song? Or read them a story?” I further sought to know.
Whittle: No I have never, children are too messy.
I turned my attention this time to the woman, Ms Nancy Plonk. I thought to ask her the same question, but refrained. She clearly didn’t look like she’d ever had a date in her life, and therefore a child looked a more ridiculous proposition. Sighing tiredly, I again returned attention to the belligerent one.
“I have three children, I read my books to them and their friends; they quite enjoying my stories. You could have at least read the book too. It is an interesting story”
Whittle: No, I am fed up with reading stuff written by nutcases. I think all you guys out there, should do the world some good and get yourselves day jobs instead of pretending to be writers.
I was sincerely amused. This was one of the most conceited characters, I had ever created.
“If we all got day jobs, you will have nothing to do; you will become unemployed - both of you. You will have to survive on unemployed benefit”, I pointed out to him. He seemed not to care nevertheless; apparently he hated his job.
Whittle: Sometimes I wish that would happen. This job really rips me apart sometimes.
The woman, her courage apparently bolstered by the ongoing hostility found her voice
Plonk: Now that you’ve got what you require from us; will you let us go?
“No I won’t. In fact I am going to kill you”, I ruefully told her.
Plonk: Oh no !
And to my pleasure, she began to cry. But the blockhead guy still didn’t seem to get it yet.
Whittle: You wouldn’t dare.
“Who is to stop me?” I asked him. He had no answer to that. He looked all around and at the chains around their limbs, and then sighed resignedly.
Whittle: You can’t just kill us like that, man. What is the motive?
I observe that his voice had become softer; almost pleading.
“Mental cruelty, negligence of duty, aggressive wickedness”; I told him.
Plonk: It won’t work. The motive sucks big time. Nobody is going to buy that. It is too weak a motive
“Strong enough for me”, I shrugged my shoulder, thoroughly enjoying their discomfort.
Plonk: How would you do it? I mean if you are so sure of the motive, what kind of weapon are you looking to use?
It appeared to me that her professional interest had been insanely kindled; regardless of the danger in which her life was.
“That is a good point. I have got a new knife somewhere in the kitchen. I could slit you throats but then that would make a mess all over the floor and I am afraid too much blood in my hand.” I wickedly told her.
Plonk: Don’t slit my throat, please.
Whittle: He wouldn’t dare. He will get life.
Now I had just about had enough of the lip from this stupid fucker.
“Shut up asshole”, I shouted at him with all the ferocity I could muster. Again he surprisingly shut up. Hey, I was getting good at this. Fear on their faces. Interesting.
“I am thinking also to use a gun. I mean, one shot each though the head should do it for you both.” I punished them further.
Whittle: Where are you going to get a gun?
“I don’t know yet, but I will eventually think up something”. I replied
Whittle: Bloody lunatic.
I ignored him. I was done with these two, but watching them writhe inside the paper chains and watching them sweat in fear was giving me a wonderful head trip. I dragged a writing table up to them, put a sheet of paper and a pen on the table in front of each and then untied their right hands, ignoring the fact that the insolent guy was left-handed. Their other hand I kept tied behind the chairs.
“Okay I am going to give you a better chance than you ever gave me”, I announced to them.
Plonk: Thank you, thank you. What do you want us to do? I will do it. Just don’t kill us.
“Nothing much. I want you two to write me a one page short story; and then you may go home.” The woman looked flabbergasted; actually she looked like she had been cracked on the head with a baseball bat. The man’s mouth was wide open, and he was hyperventilating.
Plonk: I can’t write, that’s not fair.
Whittle: Neither can I. Look why don’t you just write it and we will critique it very nicely for you free of charge and then dump it in the bin?
I shook my head. These people were completely without scruples.
“Then I certainly must kill you. I just right now thought to use a garrote, but I hate watching people suffer as they die. You know, tongue hanging out, eyes bulging. But I have an easier way.” I told them.
I took down a large can of water and doused the floor with it. I also doused the two generously with the water, ignoring their cries of protest and their curses as they strained to escape the paper chain. Done, I walked slowly to the door, my heavy brogues making majestic clicks on the parquet floor. I switched off the light, flicked on a gas cigarette lighter and tossed it over my shoulder as I stepped out shitting the door behind me.
I walked euphorically away into the deafening applause of a huge crowd of writers that had gathered in the street. Behind me I could hear the agonized screams of Mr. Whittle and Ms Plonk as the flames licked at their faces and ignited their clothes. A minute later the house exploded, littering the street with debris of smoldering words, and shards of shattered sentences. And then, all was again silent.