All The Work That Goes Into It – Chapter 6

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CHAPTER 6

“You what?”

“I can’t believe I called her, Danny. It was an accident.”

“Bullshit!”

“I was outside Border Café waiting for an UBER, and I thought of her, and the next thing you know I had her number up, and then I hit call by accident.”

“Jesus, what did she say?”

“Hello.”

“That’s it? What else did she say?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“I hung up, after she said hello.”

“You what?”

“I hung up. I panicked.”

“Crow, she knew it was you.”

“Obviously.”

“Yes, Obviously. Did you try calling her back?”

“No, why would I do that?”

“Because, you called her in the first place.”

“Stop busting my balls, brother.”

“All I know, is that you were thinking about her, and you called her. Even after all of this time. Maybe she wanted to talk with you too.”

“I don’t know, Dan. We left it pretty badly.”

“So what, what difference does that make. Time heals all wounds.”

“It’s just that, I thought…”

“You thought, what?”

“She would know exactly what to do in my situation.”

“So, call her back, then.”

“You honestly think she’ll answer again?”

“You’ll never know until you try.”

“You’re supposed to talk me out of making bad decisions, Danny.”

“Maybe, I’m talking you into making the right decision.”

“I don’t know. What would I say?”

“Whatever seems like the right thing to say?”

“It’s too much.”

“Maybe this has all happened for a reason, my friend.”

“It’s really a lot to process right now.”

“You’ll figure it out.”

“I hope so.”

“You will.”

“Thanks, brother.”

“Anytime.”

Danny ended the call before Crow could say anything else. He sat on the edge of his sofa (Brinda’s IKEA sofa) and rubbed his palms through his hair. His legs did tippy-taps on the floor. He had a ton of nervous energy, and a ton of anxiety crushing him right now. He couldn’t believe how much had happened in the past two days, and how fast it had happened. He went from getting a call about a piece of work he submitted, to another call about that same piece of work, to calling his ex by accident (or maybe subconsciously on purpose), at that same time neglecting to see the irony that the manuscript that was being considered to be published was inspired by and about his horrible break up with Brinda.

He got up and stretched and went over to his writing desk. The only thing that brought him solace at times like this, was burying himself in his writing. He sat down, turned on the desktop and got to work.

His fingers flew with a fury he had never experienced. He tripped through line after line, and ripped off four pages in a flash. He sat up in his chair and pulled off his glasses and rubbed his temples firmly. Once a level of relief was achieved he put his glasses back on and went back at it. He momentarily stopped to turn on his Pandora music app, and he selected the 80’s New Wave channel. Music started pumping through the desk speakers, and he took it as encouragement to keep going. Morrissey’s “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” came on, and it pushed him. He remembered the words, the feelings, what the song meant to him in that time. It was a reunion of sorts, but this time he was in the driver’s seat. He spit out word after word in defiance of reining in his comfort.

After what seemed like a flash, he looked up from his computer and realized it was two a.m. He couldn’t believe it. He hit a new plateau. Never before in all of his writing experience, had he lost time like this. It felt great. He saved his work, and then got up took a piss, and then crashed into his bed. He pondered the significance of this outburst, and then he started crying. Not your typical tears down your cheeks cry, but the ugly snot bubble chest heaving cry that one experiences every once in a while. This carried on for twenty minutes, but then, as suddenly as he had started, he stopped. He rolled onto his side and grabbed the body pillow .It was cold. He remembered what it felt like to lose himself in the flesh of another person, and not in the sexual way, but the intimate skin to skin being protected from the harsh world kind of way. He closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep. It wasn’t until the early morning hours that he dreamed. He awoke with a startle at one point, as the dream that he experienced was one of many that recurring to him. In this recurring dream, Crow would be on the run, being chased by a giant grizzly bear. No matter how hard he tried to escape, or what kind of a hiding place he would find, Crow was always within a claw-swipe of the animal, and he felt helpless. In fact, in the last dream, he was with his deceased father. Both Crow and his father would find what they thought were excellent hiding places, only to be discovered again by an emerging bear that would aggressively charge toward them and cause them to run to the next seemingly safe spot. Crow’s Dad has been dead for four years. Generally, Crow would be ecstatic about seeing his Dad in his dreams, but under the circumstances of being chased by a bear, it made Crow feel worse. He also had the inexplicable feeling of possessing a general awareness that he was aware the he was dreaming, but he couldn’t articulate it up his father. It almost seemed if his father was struggling to tell him something as well, but neither of them could speak, only run from the bear. At one point he was running from the bear and had lost his father. Eventually, Crow ran through a forest path that led him to a railroad bridge stretching across a deep ravine to the other side. His Dad was waving him over the bridge, but Crow had no idea how he got over there; especially since they had just been running side by side. All of a sudden the brush to the right of him indicated that a large beast was descending upon him. He had no choice but to start over the bridge as fast as he could. When he looked ahead to see his father on the other side, he saw him standing in the middle of the bridge span instead. Making matters worse, a steel monster was heading towards both of them from the other side of the bridge. No matter what he did to earn his father of the impending train, his father wouldn’t turn around to see what was approaching. Crow would get frustrated and yell to his father, to look behind him, or to get off the bridge. All the while, he covered the tracks as fast as he could without looking back at the bear chasing him. His father didn’t seem alarmed, or to see the bear chasing Crow as he set out over the span. As is usually the case in many dreams, Crow was caught in a loop that defied logic of all kinds. He knew he was dreaming, but he couldn’t will himself to wake up, no matter how hard he tried. All he could do was pump his arms and legs as hard as he could to get to his father before the train hit him. In a flash he was yards from his father and gave one last push and lunged to grab his father in his arms. He succeeded, but they were now both falling from the bridge. Just as they were about to hit the ground, Crow startled awake on the floor of his bedroom. He was disoriented and covered in sweat, with the sheets wrapped around his neck.

 

Chapter 5

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1

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All The Work That Goes Into It – Chapter 5

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CHAPTER 5

Crowell took a long walk down by the Charles River. The weather was cooperating, and the sun red sky was losing illumination by the minute. Crow liked to walk by the Charles when he needed to think about things. He always found it a comfort to see scullers moving up and down the seams of the river, and under the famous bridges, under blood red skies. He had never been in a predicament like the one he allowed himself to be in now. All he had to do was tell the folks at Candlewick that his friend submitted the wrong manuscript on his behalf, and that it was a mistake. Then again, he hadn’t signed with anyone as yet, and was beginning to wonder if he should keep both opportunities in play until he had at least a guarantee on one. But, he really liked C.P. Hickey and Sandy, and he hadn’t even met Lissette yet. He felt like he was betraying a trust. This was the first time in his life that he really didn’t know what to do. Under normal circumstances, he would call up Danny and ask him out for a few beers, but Danny was part of the problem. There was one other person that would know what to do, but he couldn’t bring himself to contact her. The last time they spoke, they said words that could not be unsaid, and they parted harshly. It took him a very long time to get over it. Ironically, the very manuscript that was causing him so much anguish, was inspired by his relationship with Brinda. He had spent years avoiding it, but then one day, the damn burst, and he was able to write with purpose and catharsis. Danny had no idea that the manuscript story was based on his relationship with Brinda and the troubles that followed their break-up. Actually, he was quite surprised he didn’t pick up on it. Sometimes Danny had a way of glossing over the things he didn’t want to see. Perhaps, that was his way of protecting Crow. He knew how much the break-up affected him.

As Crow reached the end of his walk, he realized that he was hungry, and he decided to go the Border Café in Harvard Square. Many of his buddies would bust his balls for wanting to go there so regularly, but it didn’t matter, he ate there despite them. He could get cheap eats there, and they totally satisfied him. He would start with the bowl of chili, and follow it up with either the chicken tacos, or the chicken fajitas. He also loved getting the bowls of chips and salsa. He had his first date with Brinda there, and it was there go to comfort spot. She always had these awful salsa burps after they would eat there. But he didn’t care, it made him adore her more. They celebrated her graduation from the Harvard Extension School there. They ate there after they moved into their first apartment together, and it was there that she told him that she couldn’t “do it’ anymore. Although, she never seemed to explain exactly what “doing it” meant. Despite all that, Crow couldn’t tear himself away from there. He often went on Tuesday nights, and after he would eat, he would sneak over to Club Passim nearby, in hopes of seeing her perform at an open mike. She never showed up. Not once.

After eating, he ordered an UBER, and waited for its arrive. In thinking about Brinda, he almost forgot his problem. He clicked on the contacts icon on his phone, and scrolled to her name. It seemed to float there in the queue and have a life of its own. He wondered if she changed her number. In all the time since they had broken up, he never once tried to call her. He had tried to write to her many times, but the letters always came back “RTS”.

He went to close the application and he hit the call button by mistake, it rang. His heart was in his throat. He negotiated with himself to hang up after one ring, then it was two rings, then it happened…

“Hello.”

All The Work That Goes Into It – Chapter 4

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CHAPTER 4

“What the fuck do you mean, you gave it to her?”

“Crow, I just got your message now, I gave her the manuscript yesterday, brother.”

“Dammit, Danny! I just got out of a meeting with another publisher, and they want to publish my manuscript and sign me to a short term retainer.”

“What? Are you shitting me, Crow? That’s unbelievable. Which manuscript did you submit there?”

“That one! The fucking one you grabbed from me yesterday and turned over to your ex. You need to get it back, now.”

“Whoa! Whoa! Simmer down there. I was only doing you a favor. Hey, wait a minute. You told me that you hadn’t sent that manuscript out.”

“Just get the goddamned manuscript back, will ya?”

“Sure, I’ll go over there as soon as I get out of work.”

“You don’t understand, Dan. They want to drawer up papers and sign a deal for the manuscript, and they were happy when I told them that no one else had it.”

“Why did you tell them that? I told you I was going to hook you up.”

“I didn’t think it was going to work out.”

“Jesus Christ, hold on, I’m getting another call. It’s a number I don’t know. I better pick up, in case it’s the folks over at Hickarado. I’ll call you back.”

“No, I’ll hold.”

“Ok.”

Crow swiped to pick up the other call.

“Hello, Crow speaking.”

“Hello, Mr. Meanstreat?”

“Yes?”

“Hi, it’s Charlie Tink over at Candlewick Press. I’m glad I got a hold of you. My assistant handed me your manuscript today, and I usually don’t do take-ins like that, but I liked what I’ve read so far. Can you come into discuss?”

Crow’s stomach went into knots, and his hands started to moisten. He was having trouble holding the phone.

“Hello, yes, I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting a call so soon. I mean a friend of mine gave it to your assistant, and quite frankly, I didn’t think it would ever get seen.”

“Well, typically we don’t take unsolicited materials, but my Jenny, she is very persuasive.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Say, you can come into discuss this with me at the end of the week. Let me get through the rest of it, but what I’ve seen, I’d feel comfortable saying that we’d be interested in preliminary talks about the possibility of publishing your work.”

“I’m, I’m,..”

“Shocked?”

“Yes, shocked, and humbled, and I need to sit down.”

“I understand you’re surprised. Listen, here is the office phone, take a beat, get your head on, and when you are ready give me Jenny a call to set up something this Friday. Can you make it this Friday?”

“Yes, yeah, absolutely. Thank you! Let me take a minute. I’ll give Jenny a call back once I catch my breath.”

“Excellent, I’ll let Jenny know you will be calling.”

“Thank you!”

“No, Mr. Meanstreet, thank you!”

Crow switched back to Danny, who was still waiting.

“So, was it them?”

“Jesus-fucking-Christ! No, it wasn’t them, it was the people at Candlewick Press.”

“No way!”

“Yes, they got my manuscript. Somehow, Jenny convinced them to look at my manuscript. A guy called Charlie Tink.”

“That’s Jenny’s boss. A real stand-up guy I’ve heard.”

“Jesus Christ! Danny? What the hell am I going to do?”

“This is great, you can play one against the other for an optimal deal.”

“How the hell is that supposed to work?”

“I don’t know, just seems like they both want your work.”

“Yeah, but I already told the folks at Hickarado that I didn’t have my manuscript out there anywhere else.”

“Well, flip a coin, then. Does it matter?”

“Yeah, Hickarado is offering a short term commitment to work and prove myself a bit more.”

“Well, that makes it harder to decide.”

“You’re goddamned right it does. I can’t believe this.”

“You always complicate my life, Danny.”

“What? Wait, what? Come again?”

“Every time I let you help me, I end up in a spot.”

“Hey, man, what the fuck? I’m only trying to help.”

“I mean I send in a manuscript to Hickarado without your edits and they want it. Then you take a manuscript with your edits to Candlewick, and they want it.”

“What do you mean, you submitted a work without my edits?”

“The manuscript I sent over to Hickarado was just a draft I did without any edits.”

“But, I thought I was helping you out.”

“Every single one of the twenty-seven manuscripts that I’ve changed with your edits have all come back to me, rejected. Not a one accepted.”

“That’s until now, Crow. You just got a call back on the manuscript I gave to Jenny, and that one had my edits.”

“You see what I mean? You fucking complicate things.”

“Jesus, with friends like me…”

“This is not about you, Danny. This is about my writing career.”

“Well, what the hell are you going to do?”

 

All The Work That Goes Into It – Chapter 3

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CHAPTER 3

It didn’t take long for the taxicab to reach Cambridge. Crow paid the driver his money and got out of the vehicle in front of the Starbucks across from Publishers Alley. He needed caffeine because of what he just went through, and for what he believed he was about to go through at the meeting. He still had a solid ninety minutes before the meeting started. He thought it a good enough time to enhance his calm, so he could get his focus back up by using a charged up liquid piggyback. Typically, Crow loved his Dunks, but you can love your beer, but still need some Bourbon from time to time. He approached the counter and waited for his turn. The barista greeted him and took his order. Being cheeky, he told the barista that his name was Alphonse. He remembered that name for a porn movie he saw on VHS when he was just a kid. In the pre-internet times, you had to get your smut via the medium of video cassettes, instead of being able to instantly download content as is done now. The particular porn Crow enjoys invoking for Starbucks sobriquets was called “Tittie Committee II” and had a scene wear a meek fellow that seemed to be the perfect personification of the Warner Brothers cartoon character Marvin the Martian, was filmed being cuckolded by his Cosmopolitan wife and a used car salesman. Throughout the scene, as she was enduring rigorous “exercise” she kept making contact with her husband and asking him ‘Are you watching, Alphonse?’, ‘Do you like seeing your wife being taken by other men, Alphonse?’

No one got more of a kick out of Crow’s musings, than crow. He just hoped that his Starbucks stunt didn’t backfire on him, as his tossing up the homeless man had earlier in the day.

“Alphonse? Venti Cafe Mocha with two extra shots? Alphonse?”

A smile of victory came over Crow’s face. It still got him, every time.

He sipped on his drink until he could feel his temples vibrate. He then knew it was time to head over to the Publisher’s office to wait there. He quickly finished what remained in the cup and dropped it in the trash on the way out the door.

He cut across the four cornered street diagonally, as he didn’t have the patience to wait for the little white man to tell him he could go through the crosswalk.

He dodged a turning Mercedes, that leaned on the horn letting Crow know he was in the wrong for not being in the crosswalk. Crow flipped him the bird, and the Mercedes pumped the brakes as if they were going to stop, but then continued on.

Crow saw the old building, and ducked in the revolving door that entered into a surprisingly large lobby, given the building s appearance from the outside. He walked to the security desk, and asked them where to find Hickarado Publishing. The guard pointed to the left elevator bank and told him to take it to the fourth floor and take a right off the elevator.

Crow loved riding elevators. He was the only one in the elevator, and he still had twenty minutes before the meeting, so he hit the second, third, and fourth floor buttons. He decided that he had two other chances to duck out if he changed his mind on the short trip up to the office. As the elevator rise, it surprised him with a vintage elevator ding sound. The doors opened on the second floor, and there was a gentleman standing there fanning through what looked to be a manuscript. Crow thought that he must be going down. The man looked unamused. The doors closed. Ding! The doors opened, there was no one there. Crow stepped off, and spun around, just as the elevator door was about to close on him, he stuck his leg in to stop the doors from closing. The doors shot open and he rushed back inside. His heart rate was up again, and he pushed his back all the way agains the wall opposite the elevator doors.

Finally, he arrived at the fourth floor and vacated the elevator, turning right as the security guard had told him to do. He arrived at the Hickarado Publishers door, and placed his hand on the knob. He took a deep breath and turned the handle, moving at once over the threshold and into the office. He was greeted by the receptionist, and was asked to sit in the waiting area until Sandy was ready to come out to receive him. He found a seat closest to the door, and started perusing old copies of the New Yorker that were left on the waiting area table. His habit was to always skip to the table of contents and find out three things: where to find the fiction piece, where to find the poetry, and where to find the cartoons.

Before he could flip to the featured fiction of the issue he was holding, Sandy called out to him as he was approaching the waiting area.

“Good afternoon, Crow. Sandy. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you as well.”

“Thanks for coming in. We’re so happy to finally meet you. Why don t you follow me to the back? I have someone I want you to meet.”

“Sounds good, Sandy.”

“Can I get you anything to drink? Coffee? Water?”

“Water is good.”

The person I’m bringing you to meet is C.P. Hickey. He and his wife Lissette Alvarado, started this publishing company fifteen years ago.

“Fifteen years?”

“Yup. Just fifteen.”

“Wow! That’s impressive.”

“They’ve killed it in the last eight years.”

“Lissette wanted to meet you as well, but she is in Paris on a book tour with another client.”

“Paris?”

“Yup, they even have international presence now.”

The gentleman walked down the hall to the back of the space. Crow’s heart was nearly jumping out of his chest. As they approached the office door, Crow noticed the sound of music playing unexpectedly loud. He couldn’t quite make it out, but it sounded familiar.

“C.P. loves the Beatles.”

“I knew I recognized it. But, I wasn’t sure.”

“Hold on, let me go in and let him know your here. Be just a minute.”

Sandy pushed open the door, and the song rang out through the expanding opening, “Paperback Writer” was playing, and Crowell took this to be a great sign, or one hell of a coincidence. Sandy was in there for a few seconds and then poked his head around the door nodding him into the office. The song slowly trailed off, and the unmistakable bass riff stuck in Crow’s head. He almost thought it would be funny to come into the office singing “Pa-per-back-Wri-ter-Wri-ter-Wri-ter…” But then thought better of it, after the morning he had.

Crow walked through the door and looked upon C.P. Hickey. He was standing behind his desk with a warm smile. He didn’t pretend he was busy, but was standing there with his hand out. He was a large man, with grayish hair, going the way of white and he had a grizzly unkempt beard, and dark rimmed glasses frames. He had on casual clothing ensemble of jeans and a sweater.

“C.P. Hickey, call me Chris. Very nice to meet you”

Crow and Chris stood there exchanging a handshake, and Crow liked that Chris didn’t try to crush his hand, but held firm, and made eye contact. Crow always admired people that made eye contact when speaking.

“Crowell Meanstreet, nice to meet you as well. Call me Crow.”

“Glad you could come in on such short notice. I asked Sandy to reach out to you. I have a flight to catch later on to meet up with my wife in Paris. She wanted to be here to meet you in person. But, she trusted that I wouldn’t scare you away, and allowed me to bring you into the office to talk about the manuscript you sent.”

“Thank you for the opportunity to meet, Chris.”

“You’re welcome, Crow. But, it should be us thanking you. Lissette enjoyed your manuscript very, very much, and she has a knack for finding new talent. I trust her eye, and she’s been right almost one hundred percent of the time. And when I picked up your story, I immediately felt at ease and that it had elements that we like to promote here at Hickarado.”

“I don’t know what to say, Chris. I’m humbled.”

“I’m not one for stretching things out, so I’ll say it plainly; we would like to publish your story. What would you think of that?”

“I’m thrilled. Speechless.”

“Don’t worry, if you’re like me, you’ll think of everything you wanted to say after you leave. I’ve been where you’re sitting, so I get it. We are thrilled to meet you, and in addition to your story being published, my wife has convinced me that you are a diamond in the rough, and she’d like to set up a temporary arrangement between you and Hickarado, until you’ve proven yourself as a viable long term investment. What do you say to that?”

“Again, I’m speechless.”

“It’s funny how many clients have a hard time expressing themselves off of the page.”

They all laughed.

“Well, we can get started with this after legal draws up the contract for the manuscript. We’ll also put you in touch with the production team to get some insight about cover art and style, etc. Also, we’ll have them draw up a short-term incentive based client agreement. Are you okay with that Crow? Do you have representation? We know a few people that could help, if you don’t currently have anyone.”

“I don’t have an agent, at present. But, I feel like I should have one. Sure, I’d be happy to work with any leads you might have in that direction.”

“Sandy, have Clarice give Crow a list of the agents we work with.”

“Oh, in the meantime, I do have a very trusted friend that could help me take an initial look at any documents until I get an agent.”

“Great, we’ll have documents sorted out by the end of the day, and sent over to you first thing tomorrow. Listen, take your time and enjoy this process. I still remember my first book, and all the stuff that happened once it got accepted by a publishing house. I feel that the reason we have success here at Hickarado, is that we respect the process, and allow our clients to enjoy it as it unfolds. We want to publish your book and for it to be a great success. But, we also want you to enjoy this aspect of the industry so you can focus on staying creative and doing what you do.”

“That means a lot, Chris. Thank you.”

“No problem, looking forward to working with you.”

“Same here.”

The gentlemen shook hands again, and let their grip linger for a moment, this time, affirming the trust that was developing between them.

“We’ll set up a meeting to sign all the docs soon. Danny will be in touch.”

“Sounds good.”

“Great, we’ll see you soon.”

Crowell turned around and headed toward the door, with Sandy.

“Oh, Crow, one last thing, tell me, this manuscript, have you submitted it anywhere else?”

Crow stopped in the doorway, smiling, and started to regret the fact that Danny lifted a version of his manuscript yesterday to hand over to his ex at the other publishing house.

“No, Chris. This is the only one I put out.”

“Great! That makes it cleaner, and should streamline the process so we can get going on it ASAP.”

Crow gave Chris the thumbs up gesture, and turned around and left the room. No sooner than he did, the Beatles music picked back up again. “Help!” was now playing. Crow couldn’t believe this song was playing at this moment. Once through the door of Hickarado Publishing, he padded down the hall, and pressed the button to call the elevator.

He was full of emotions. But, he needed to take care of a few things first, before he could get wrapped up in the excitement of what just occurred.

He pushed the button to call the elevator, got on and pressed the G for ground floor, immediately recognizing the symbolism in needing to ground himself in the moment. No shenanigans like earlier. He had a chance to finally do something. He traveled down without interruption. The ding sounded and he cleared the doors and got out of the building as quickly as he could.

Once across the street, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, and selected Danny’s number. It went to voicemail.

“Listen up! Please tell me you didn’t give my manuscript to your ex. Please listen to what I say…DO NOT GIVE THAT MANUSCRIPT TO HER. CALL ME IMMEDIATELY. Bye. I’m going to fucking text you. If you get this call me right away.”

Crow opened the text messaging app on his phone and began typing…

Dan, CALL ME!!!! ASAP!!!!! 

 

Chapter 2 Link

Chapter 1 Link

 

All The Work That Goes Into It – Chapter 2

 CHAPTER 2

 Crowell fidgeted with his jacket zipper the entire time he stood on the Alewife train platform. Being a seasoned public transit traveler didn’t help him to lower his rising blood pressure. Although, he’d seen it all over the years, he couldn’t wrap his head around a twenty-five minute delay in service due to a disabled train, followed by a 15 minute delay due to a medical emergency. Crow started to think that the literary gods were playing with him. Luckily, he got an early start and decided to head into Cambridge a lot earlier than the scheduled meeting with Hickarado Publishing. He actually was thankful for the extra time to think about the possibilities that could unfold later today. He didn’t feel the need to exit the station and grab an Uber ride, so he sat on a sticky wooden bench and pulled a canary Moleskine journal from his backpack. Crow loved being out in the world, and fashioned himself as having a keen eye for picking up on the “human element” in the environs around him. Basically, being at large allowed him to be in his element and provided him endless material for his writing. He had a knack for finding a story in any trivial detail or exchange, and meticulously wrote down any and all clues in his journal for safekeeping. Later on, he would open his journal and find scribbled short hand that amounted to written spoken tongues. Crow would have to become part cryptologist, part detective, and part crime scene preservationist in order to cull the important bits of information he needed in order to write a story from the seeds of his observational labor. Some might think it creepy, but Crow would be willing to wager that many other writers followed a similar path in gathering material for their writing. If not, he had to wonder why they didn’t. Again, he felt very strongly that fiction was hyper-personal, and that it involved capturing the authenticity of a great many details happening within the ordinary living that occurred between the daily motions and habits of those writers that were willing to take the time to stop and listen for it. These were the mind games that Crow played with himself, and he jotted it all down in his journals. One of his longtime girlfriends broke up with him because of his compulsion to accumulate journals. Her issue wasn’t that he acquired the journals, but rather, that they remained blank on shelves in their shared apartment collecting dust. Crow had a hard time seeing it her way, but the silver lining became the subsequent surge of writing productivity, and the sudden appearance of ink on those blank pages once she Dear Johned him. In a stroke of genius, she left the break up note on the first page of the very first journal she bought for him as a birthday gift. He had been saving that journal for a special occasion, she beat him to it.

Crow noticed a homeless gentleman closing in on the other side of the bench. The man was pulling a rolling wire cart behind him, that looked as if it could equally exist here or in a tinkers market in Bangladesh. The man pushed his cart into the space beside the opposite side of the bench that Crow was sitting on. The gentleman then proceeded to make overtly exaggerated gestures and address Crow.

“Hey! Hey, Fucko!”

Crow closed the canary journal over his hand so he wouldn’t lose the page, and looked up at the gentleman.

“Hey! Hey, you! Yea, you! What the fuck you doing on my bench?”

Crow looked around to make sure that the homeless man was talking to him. Then he looked back at the hostile man, and gestured to his chest with his right hand thumb.

“Who, me?”

“Yeah, you. Asshole! You’re on my bench.”

Crow started to get a bit hot under the collar, but also remained present enough think about how to handle the situation. He had already engaged the violent man, so he couldn’t ignore him, so he thought what could it hurt?  So he played along and ribbed him back.

“Your bench. This is my bench. It was my father’s bench before me, and his father’s bench before him.”

Crow thought that life was sometimes like the narratives in his writing, but from time to time, this was an incongruous belief when faced with the variable of live people.

“The fuck you say?”

“I said it’s my bench.”

The homeless man turned around and fiddled with the mound of materials that comprised his wire cart, and pulled out a cast iron pan, as if it were Excalibur itself. He started swiping through the air with it, and then landed blows on the bench creating quite a noise. Crow fell off the bench and dropped his journal and any of the loose materials that were on his lap a moment before. The homeless guy was surprisingly agile, and although his frame seemed to belie his strength, Crow knew that if he was hit in the head with that pan, he’d be in trouble.

Crow picked up his things and put them in his backpack as fast as he could. The ferocity of the attack from the homeless man grew beyond any measurable expectation, and Crow was forced to walk quickly away from the platform to the stairs exiting the station. When he looked behind him he saw the crazy old fucker sprinting after him with the cast iron pan still in hand. Crow skipped steps on his way up, and ran for all he was worth until he reached the exit doors, busting through them with a desperation that he hadn’t expected. He ran through Fresh Pond for what seemed like three full street blocks without looking back. He then cut down two streets on the right then ran down five more blocks before he began to feel safe again. His heart beat out of his chest and he was all disheveled. He was now out of his way, and stuck in a part of Fresh Pond that he was unfamiliar with. He kept walking until he got to a convenience store, he went in and asked the clerk how far it was to catch a bus to Cambridge. He didn’t know. 

“Sorry, man. I don’t take the bus. I hate busses.”

“That’s okay. Thanks.”

Crow walked back the way he came figuring that the guy had given up chasing him by this point. As he approached the Fresh Pond mall, he flagged down a taxi. 

“Can you get me to Publisher’s Alley in Cambridge?”

“Sure, get in.

Crow climbed into the backseat, and wondered to himself why all taxicabs seemed to have the same taxicab smell. He made a mental not to work this into a story at a later time, as he didn’t dare pull his journal out of his backpack again.

Click here to revisit Chapter 1