The Last Lines ‘It’s great Fred.

’ My publisher was sitting as usual at her oversized desk, with an oversized cigarette jutting out of her mouth, with my oversized latest novel in her hand. I could tell by the way she said it that there was a ‘but’ coming. ‘Its great as usual darling, but there’s just one slight problem.’ I knew what it was before she had to say it. This was my tenth novel, and in eight of the others as with this one the main protagonist died in the end. In the one exception it turned out that he was dead all along. ‘They’re becoming predictable Fred.’ she said it nicely because she knew that my novels had paid for everything in her disgustingly eighties style office. ‘Maybe you could rewrite the ending.’ She took a long drag from her cigarette; she knocked off some ash, smoke creeping from her nostrils into the air like a dark poison into water and pushed the novel towards me. I took it and left. As I walked back to my apartment I felt like I had no control over my actions. Rejection was never something I took easily. I could feel the usual eyes on me. Maybe it was just my imagination but it felt like everybody was staring at me. I stumbled along as if I didn’t have a choice. The usual morning rush of assholes, bumping into each other. There was a woman with one arm, holding out her only hand, piled up in a doorway. Fuck her. I was holding the novel out in front of me. Cradling the fucking thing as if it were a baby. I secretly wished a gust of wind would come and blow it away. How beautiful that would be. My novel, like a flock of birds taking off from my arms. Maybe somebody would find a page and read it and enjoy it. Maybe somebody would find a page and wipe their arse with it. I really didn’t give a flying fuck anymore. I went into a clothes shop to buy a new white shirt. The one I had, turned slightly pink in the last wash. I wasn’t in the door of the store twenty seconds when a clerk came over to me asking if I was o.k. I told him I was fine. Why should I have to tell him I’m fine? I don’t know him. He just wants some commission. He knows he is pissing me off. I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to look at him. He is no better than the one armed beggar. I put down my novel to browse through some white shirts. I could feel somebody standing behind me. It was another clerk. ‘Need some help Sir?’ In my head I ripped a white shirt off a hanger, wrapped it around his head and pounded his head until the shirt turned as pink as my last white shirt. Of course all I did was say ‘I’m fine’. I picked up my novel and I walked out without a shirt just in case a third clerk would approach me. I lived on the forty seventh floor. When I got back I just sat in my living room for about three hours. I stared around at all the shit I had chosen to surround myself with. I thought about my novel. I had written a novel a year for the past ten years. I got each one out in time for Christmas. I wondered how many poor fucks got my novels every year for Christmas for the past ten years. Pretending to like it so as not to offend anyone. I thought of women. I had a wank. I thought that if I had met the right woman and had a family then maybe my novels would change. If I didn’t drink so much then maybe I could straighten myself out. If I hadn’t lived in constant fear of rejection maybe I would have had the balls to change. It was too late. I hadn’t changed in the past ten years. If I didn’t make people die in my novels I would be a real murderer.

I felt like a character in one of my books. I poured myself a whiskey. Slumped in my chair I slugged at the glass. I turned on the T.V. Dr. Phil was saving some

stupid bitch whose father pimped her out for crack. I turned it off again. I poured another whiskey. Maybe I was just another character I had created. I stared up at the newspaper clippings on the wall. ‘Frederick DeVito writes novel of the year’ ‘Another masterpiece from DeVito’ ‘Devito does it again.’ The ones that read, ‘Same old story from Frederick’, ‘Not again’ and ‘Worst book of the year’ were hidden away in some drawer. Maybe I made all this happen. Maybe every year of my life was a chapter, or a paragraph, or a sentence, or a word! Every choice and decision I made was like me tapping at a keyboard! I was in control! I looked at the novel. I looked at the last two chapters. They were the only pages that didn’t have my publishers nail marks on them. She knew the ending without even reading it! I ripped out the last two chapters and tossed them out the window. I dashed over to my keyboard. I poured another whiskey. I was on form again. My fingers danced over the keys. He wouldn’t have to die. He could get married, have kids and live happily ever after. The words came up on the screen as fast as the thoughts came into my head. I finished the story. Now all I have to do is get somebody to read it. I dropped the empty whiskey glass onto the table. I looked at the bottle. It was empty. I staggered back to the chair. I felt great. I sat there satisfied. Suddenly I began to feel like I was losing control again. I stood up. Like a strong wave overlapping a ripple, my satisfaction was overcome with the depression I felt earlier. The need to seek an end. I tried to fight it but couldn’t. The last lines of my book. I stumbled over to the window. Opened it. Stood on the ledge and leaped out. As I plummeted down, I saw a kid on the street reading the chapters I had thrown out earlier. A flash of the following days newspaper headline came to me. ‘Drunken author takes his own life after finishing autobiography’

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