“If this is what you are capable of doing now, today, without any training, just imagine the scope of what you could do if you came with us,” she said.
“I don’t give a damn about what I could or could not do,” I said.
The men, on the other hand, did not utter a single word. They stayed there, fixed, transfixed, whatever. They looked like potted plants to me.
“What we are, what we do; it could be the opening key for you, you know?” she asked with her soft voice, the last syllable softer.
“A key to what?” I mumbled.
I could feel the sofa flattening under my weight. After years and years of holding on, he was finally giving up. Even the brave sometimes come to it.
She stood up and went to her purse. She drew something out of it, thick, white, heavy. She brought the book with her as she sat down. The sofa sighed heavily, probably living its last hour. She then held the book in front of me, like a mirror, and I watched. There I was, me, or what I thought to be me, and what many thought to be me, with the eyes, the nose and the hair and all, in a little tiny square, smiling. An old picture I hadn’t seen in years, with my name, or what I thought to be my name, written in capitals under it. The book was mine she said; or rather, they had printed out a bunch of stories I had written, and put it together into a book.
“That’s my intellectual property, you can’t do that without my consent,” I started.
She smiled, and nodded.
“No, but I’m serious. It’s like rape,” I went on.
She smiled. Broader.
“Look at what you could get, look at what you could become,” she said.
And I looked. I looked around too. The place was filled with trash, unclean, unkept, broken down. Everything seemed to be much in disarray. Like me. But I liked the place, it had character. And a funky smell.
“What do you say?” she asked.
“About the offer. What do you say?”
I remained silent. I didn’t say anything. Couldn’t even if I wanted to.
“I’m not interested. I told you.”
“But why? Don’t you want to be a writer?” she asked, not even slightly annoyed.
Again with the smile.
“Don’t you want to be published?” she asked.
This one stung.
She ordered the gorillas out of the house, and took me to my word. Not that I had meant any of it. But in the business, she said, that is how it goes. She stood up and took me by the hand and led me to my own room, making sure to avoid empty beer cans on the ground.
The bed was still there, still the same. And the sheets too. The stains and smells did not bother her in the slightest. She unbuttoned her shirt in front of me, staring right into my eyes. I felt I was the one getting totally naked. And though a few moments later I was, it felt different.
She bent and sat and went to her knees and moved and rocked forward and backward and spread her legs in what seemed to be a simple and unique movement. It all felt mechanical and devoided of any surprises. That was exactly why I wasn’t interested.
“So what do you say now?” she asked in the middle of it all.
I didn’t answer. I’m not much of a talker anyway.
She waited until everything was said and done, and as I dozed off, told me that now that I got what I asked for, I needed to honor my end of the bargain. I sighed.
They will never let me write in peace.