By: Richard Tattoni
I finally got my own computer. Now I would be a writer. No need for a job.
Hours turned to days, then weeks, then months, then years until the story was finished. I was the unpublished writer. How was I supposed to get published? Why not try the Lincoln Tri-County National Writers’ Conference? What a fantastic idea, and it only cost nine hundred dollars!
I got to the hotel, unpacked bags in my room, went outside and smoked a joint, then rushed into the ballroom to eat. I was starving. In the corner of a spacious conference room, a line of writers, agents and editors waited for their food. The line moved quickly until there was nobody. On the end of the table, a taco appeared alive. It had a warm face staring out and just wanting me to reach out for it. But it had no arms or legs, just a shell of insecurity. The taco seemingly wanting to become a victim. But why did the taco want to be eaten by a lonely writer? Did it want the last laugh? It was almost alive and smiling and sneering for me to take full advantage. Maybe this taco wanted to be chosen among the other smaller, neglected tacos.
I was famished. God, was I ever hungry; and ready. I moved closer to the face of the taco. The scent of the ground beef wafted through my nostrils. I moved in quickly. There was no line, rushing to the table, I grabbed the smiling, stuffed taco and I dug in. The first bite was heaven, the second bite put the mind into a sequel to my sci-fi fantasy, but the third bite spilled taco sauce on new dress pants. Shit. Now I reeked of marijuana, and I was the stained distinguished writer.
“Stupid taco!” It was a seriously pissed reaction, upset with myself, I put down the half-eaten taco, before it dropped to the floor. Nobody saw the act. Violently, I started wiping the pants madly. Filled with inexperience, I spilled water on the pants, attempting to clean the mess. Still nobody saw; but God, it was embarrassing. Wiping feverishly, it was panic at the disco. Worse over, I had a book-pitch and needed to present to Ms. Paso and I was coming down from a super high and rage filled the mind, body and empty stomach.
I didn’t have much time. I cleaned the stain to the best of my ability; and moved faster, rushing inside a small, stuffy room with no air conditioning, where I shook hands with a friendly agent. Ms. Paso glared at the ugly stain but let it go. There was sweat from her brow and she had on a khaki loose-fitted shirt, pressed clean. To my surprise, she overlooked the stained pants. Soon the dread was over and she wanted to hear more about my hand-crafted story. She loved the stolen pitch that I memorized from the Internet and she wanted me to send her an email with the attachment from the next great science fiction fantasy. This would become my big chance. I would become the next Terry Pratchett.
Bingo, I got Ms. Paso’s card. I darted out of the room and I emailed her from the phone.
The imperfect pants or the stain of a story can sometimes be like the artwork or like the wild food from the Lincoln Tri-County National Writer’s Conference. Lady luck was on my side.
I was high as a kite on a desolate night, the following week, after the connection from the brilliant conference. The phone vibrated and it was a new email. Fuck, a kind rejection and a subjective response from the agent not interested in my book. Only fools clutch to false hope, like a fantasy of faceless tacos from the past, and stains of hope, or the devil’s lettuce from a used dealer’s convenient store where I was addicted to vegetating in a room and writing on government assistance.
How do you not publish a novel about three-eyed Irish-Americans travelling to Mars in flying cars on a mission to harvest potatoes and conquer the organic universe?