By: Bruce Levine
The rain had lasted for three days and the streets looked more like a river than pavement. Walking his dog became more of an effort each time as the torrents of water washed against them and the wind blew his umbrella inside out, soaking him frequently and blinding him as the waves of rain pelted against his glasses.
He joked out loud to his dog that if the rain continued much longer he’d have to start building an arc.
It was a good thing that he worked at home and didn’t have to drive to an office because the landscape was obliterated and visibility seemed to be only a matter of feet ahead so he was sure that the driving conditions meant crawling along and often coming to a standstill. He’d been there before, driving in weather conditions like this, and he was glad that he’d quit his day job in favor of writing full time. Those years on Wall Street had paid off in the form of a bank balance that allowed him to not worry about an income so he could simply write and if he made money all the better, but if he didn’t – oh, well… At least he was doing something he loved rather than chasing the pot of gold at the end of the hundred-hour work week rainbow.
He’d hated those years. It had never been his dream or even his desire to make a lot of money and, certainly, not in the pressure cooker of the trading floor. He hated the constant stress of making deals and worrying about whether a deal would go bad and his bosses would be looking over his shoulder. And the pressure from them to bring in clients with lots of money who would fill their coffers.
Lately his writing had gotten better and better. He’d been writing a series of short sketches and thought about compiling them into a book, sort of like Washington Irving or Mark Twain’s. He liked writing short pieces because he could write them quickly and he could have fun with them. He was never sure what they were going to be about as he started them, simply putting down a line or a title and going from there. Once in a while he’d have a defined plot or story in his head before the process began, but more often he’d simply start and let the process take over.
That was one of the nicest parts of it – the way the characters would push him around, as if they were truly alive and were living their lives while he simply took down the dictation of their dialogue.
He had no idea where any of it came from and, sometimes, he wondered about that. But more often he just accepted that that was how it worked and as long as the pages kept filling up with words he’d enjoy it.
He’d read a book once about automatic writing and wondered if, since he was writing such short pieces, if he was actually taking down dictation from a dead author without knowing it. Of course, he thought, he wasn’t in any of the great’s league as a writer – certainly not a Washington Irving or a Mark Twain – but it was fun to think that, maybe, one of the greats was using him as a conduit to put on paper what they hadn’t gotten to while they were alive and now, as writers need to, they were getting those pieces out there.
Writers write whether dead or alive.
An interesting idea, he thought. Maybe something to explore in one of his short sketches.
But not today – today he simply had to finish the new short story – one of the longest pieces he’d ever written. He was determined to finish it. Based on an actual incident from his Wall Street days, but he’d come up with a real twist ending and couldn’t wait to get to that point.
He finished drying off his dog. She loved to be dried off even though she didn’t seem to mind the rain all that much. Actually, she seemed to almost be enjoying it and he wasn’t sure why. But that didn’t change the fact that, as soon as they got home, she looked at the towel in a way that told him exactly what she wanted. She was good at doing that. And she was good at getting everything she wanted. She was spoiled. He knew that. And he was the one who spoiled her – there was no one else to blame. But he wasn’t sorry about it. He didn’t even think of her as a dog, but rather as a hairy, small person. Maybe he should write a story about her. Maybe he could even turn her into the main character of a children’s book. Not a bad idea, he thought.
He had lots of ideas. Always more, but when he tried writing one of them they usually came out awful so he simply wrote the “idea” down in a notebook and let his fingers go where they wanted on his computer keyboard and type whatever fell out of them – that’s how his best stories were written.
Bruce Levine, a 2019 Pushcart Prize Poetry Nominee, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. Over three hundred of his works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals including Ariel Chart, Friday Flash Fiction, Literary Yard; over thirty print books including Poetry Quarterly, Haiku Journal, Dual Coast Magazine, and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. Six eBooks are available from Amazon.com. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. A native Manhattanite, Bruce lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.