I Want to Be Fiction
“I’ve decided, I want to be fiction!” The words bubble out.
“Sounds good.” His eyes meet mine, a moment passes, then another.
“‘Sounds good’? Are you listening?” I watch his attention drift towards his Lobster Bisque.
“Yea, I’m listening.” He adds, lifting the spoon to his lips.
“Then say something!” The spoon hangs suspended between the bowl and his half-open mouth.
“I would if I knew what you were talking about.” He tastes the soup, unimpressed.
“I want to be fiction!” I repeat, punctuating each word.
“You mean like, write a book or something? Don’t you already do that?” He sets the bowl aside, losing interest in the luke warm broth.
“No! Not write fiction, I want to -be- fiction. Fictional. Like Hamlet.” My cheeks grow hot as I push myself out of my seat, throwing a twenty on the table.
“So, you want to be an actor now?” He watches me leaving, confused, the rest of our food hadn’t arrived.
“Yes. I want to be an actor!” I scream.
When I was five I wanted to be a cowboy, until I learned that real cowboys were dirty, smelly, angry people who died young and had Syphilis. Turns out what I really wanted to be was the Lone Ranger. He didn’t have Syphilis and knew how to take a bath.
“I want to be fiction.” I offer, casting my gaze towards the wall length mirror.
“You want to be what, darling?” She says, folding a scarf, fire engine red and nearly transparent, not so much clothing as a talking point.
“I want to be fiction. I want to have adventures.” I hate the way my shirt looks. I unbutton the first button, exposing a tuft of unruly hair.
“Adventures? We are going on one right now, silly, two weeks in Paris, it’s, it’s like a dream…” She eyes a pair of pants, sliding them into the half-full suitcase, then moves towards my side.
“That’s, not what I mean.” She stands between me and the mirror, tiny fingers on tiny hands drifting across my chest.
“Then what do you mean, my love?” Pale green eyes meet mine. My breath catches in my throat.
“I, I want to be remembered…” She mimes assent as she snaps my button back into place, smoothing my shirt out with a flourish.
“Don’t we all.” Red lips brush across my pale cheeks.
As I grew older I thought I wanted to be a writer. So I wrote. I created the sorts of worlds that I wished I lived in. The more I did though, the more I saw the joke spelled out in my prose. What would my shiny, perfect, painfully interesting characters do with dumpy, balding, shy around strangers me? I did the only thing that made sense, I burned my notebooks and quit my job.
“I want to be fiction…” My words, a pathetic slur between burning draughts.
“‘Course you do. Who wouldn’t? I used to direct movies, ya know? Met a lot of guys like you.” He waves the bartender over, ordering two Whiskey’s, neat.
“But I’ve got a plan!” The final word barely audible.
“Right on, right on.” He slides one amber glass in my direction.
“I’m going to be bigger, bigger than this life…” The room tilts sideways, eyelids weigh down my face.
“Yup. Knew a lot of guys like you in the business. It’s a hard road man, hard road.” He drops a few bills on the counter and stumbles to his feet.
“You don’t believe me…” I can’t quite make out his face anymore.
“Not a whole Hell of a lot I believe, but I wish you luck all the same.” A blurry shadow moves towards the door.
“Remember my face!” I snap, pawing at his wraith with half-clenched fingers.
“Sure thing, pal.” He fades away.
In the end the solution was obvious.
“I want to be…”
“Shut up! Just shut the Hell up.” The room was cold and damp and smelled of antisceptic.
“But, I just want to be…”
“Unless you want a goddamned bullet in your head, you’ll stop saying that. Do you even know what you did?” Droplets of warm saliva hit my face, I could vomit.
“Of course I do, I am not stupid.” His fists clenched. Another man, a well armed man, put a hand on his shoulder.
“I just don’t get it…” He says, regaining his composure.
“Apparently.” I replied. My wrists were starting to chafe, my eyes beginning to water.
“What I don’t get,” ignoring me, “was why you did it?” If I could move my arms, I would have strangled him to death.
“Perhaps you should learn to listen?” I said instead.
“You killed your wife!”
“And your best friend.”
“And some poor bastard who didn’t even know you.”
“Three for three.” He was turning red again.
“You’re going to burn for this.”
“I would certainly think so.”
“And you have nothing to say?” A thought crosses my mind.
“Do you have a comb?”
“I’m done here. Get this asshole away from me. We have our confession, if he doesn’t want to clear his conscience that’s on him.” The well armed man and two of his friends drag me towards the door.
A camera bulb flashes as we step out into the crisp, night air.