Possibly one of my favourite literary sites is terribleminds because its writer, Chuck Wending is funny, irreverent and uses about enough profanity to scare Simonstown’s local sailors from their docks. He also makes damn fine lists to help jump start even the most dithering writer. What with the dissolution of Write Club, I’ve been at a bit of a loss so I eagerly fired up the old imagination engine yesterday when I saw a prompt exercise ripe for the picking.
The brief was to put iTunes on shuffle, pick the first song and write a 500 word piece o’ flash fiction. Hell, I spin the decks daily looking for hidden symbology in songs so I hit shuffle and got served with Send In The Clowns by carnival purveyors of the eccentric and extreme, The Tiger Lilies. So I slammed back:
Send In The Clowns
“Jesus, Sam! Would you shut up already? I can’t type with your jabbering!”
Sam retorts, sulkily. The usual rot: how it’s hardly his fault I lack talent and can’t string a decent sentence. Which leads, invariably to the usual name calling, threats and flying mug – frustrated coup de grâce, rah-rah resorting to violence. Not that it helps – he just laughs.
24/7, 365 and the full quarter, Sam talks non-bloody-stop. I quit my job after the first week – my colleagues freaked out over my seemingly erratic explosions. A few unfortunate fiascos with strangers forced me indoors and my girl split after he conned me into talking dirty (he’s wrong: not all women think it’s hot). That was about 15 years ago. He’s been helpful, however, when it comes to writing. Got ideas coming out of his wazoo, does he. Not that it wasn’t a fight in the beginning – I wanted to be a writer myself and thought Sam might help, like an assistant or something but he shot that down fast. Whenever I scratched out a storyline, he tore huge holes in it, critiqued every f*cking word (harshly, I might add). After 5 days of relentless sarcasm, I threw in the pen and I gave up.
Now Sam tells me the story and I type it down. Sometimes he lets me add a detail or two but mostly I’m his scribe. Once I got over the humiliation, I saw the sweet side: he’s got a wild imagination leftover from his carny days and weaves together impossible tales with the help of a posse of unlikely protagonists (like his last: a tin opener). Which guarantees me an interesting time pushing pens or pumping keys. And people seem to go for that sh*t. Had I been the one writing, the readerly public would be wading through trashy romantic swill about vampires, werewolves and a prepubescent teenager. Up against a psycho “opener” who rips the lids off gangster cans of Campbell’s… well, there no comparison is there? His stories sold and the books bounced across the globe. I became a celebrity. Which was kinda cool, don’t read me wrong, but stuck in this house I’ve hardly enjoyed my fame.
And I’m tired. Only so much dictation a man can take in his life before it gives him cranial cramp or carpal tunnel or something equally depressing. I’ve done my time, put in a good decade plus as penmonkey for this joker. I’m beat.
“Feeling lucky, Sam?”
I suck the slick barrel, hammer coldly cocked.
“Jesus, Chuck. Calm down!”
The trigger tingles and I’m tired of talking, typing and taking orders. From a clown. Yeah, it’s probably a bit extreme but I then I did always hate a bloody circus.
Don’t you love farce? My fault I fear. I thought that you’d want what I want, sorry my dear…