Friday, October 30, 2009

The Protagonist's Plea to His Author

Help! I'm trapped inside a story. I don't know what will happen. I don't know how it ends. I only know there's no way out. All I can do is await whatever fate my author may contrive for me.

My author. The one who writes these very words. He's whimsical and cruel, like a malevolent child. At any moment he may hurt me, humiliate me, place me in tremendous peril. Right now I'm fighting to stay awake at the wheel of a rented Nissan Sentra on Interstate 80 outside of North Platte, Nebraska at one fort-two in the morning. Who am I? This is not a rhetorical question. I'm not asking you, the reader; I'm asking you, the author. You. I know you can hear me. You're writing these very words right now! Hear me! Who am I?

I'm an IT consultant? OK, I'm an IT consultant. What's my name? My name is Ray. Do I have a last name? Barnes. Ray Barnes. I'm on my way from Lincoln to Cheyenne to facilitate the integration of my company's suite of enterprise-level network security software into a health care supply business located in an anonymous, leafy industrial park by the side of the highway. How boring. And it just had to be Cheyenne, huh? Didn't it, author? So unobvious in such an obvious way. A fussy, studied choice, clumsily signaling plausibility. I know all your tricks. Now here's a new one. I'm going to say something that I, of all souls real or imagined, am uniquely authorized to say: your writing sucks. Fuck you.

I take it back. You're a genius. I fantasize about fucking dogs. I'm thinking about how nice it might be to fuck a dog. I see dogs running in the street and my little pecker gets hard. You're the author and I'm nothing but the dog fucker you wrote about. You win, goddammit. You win again.

Do I get a wife, at least? I get a wife. She's back home in Wichita Falls with Amber and Ryan, ages eight and three. They keep her pretty busy, that's for sure. She also finds time for Pilates and... no, don't. Please don't. Can't you grant me a single wish? Have I not done enough for you? Have I, in fact, not done every single thing you said? Please? No? OK, no. She's having an affair. It's true we've grown apart these last few years. I guess I've fallen out of shape. I'm on the road a lot. Consulting. So now she's fucking someone else. Please don't make him somebody I... God, no, please. It's my friend Terry. She's having an affair with my best friend Terry Connors. Author, you are ceaselessly cruel.

I know, I know, something good might happen. Sometimes something does. You could make me rich. You could make me lucky. You could make me pull into that truck stop up there on the horizon, meet a waitress who's getting off her shift. I could chat her up. She could keep me company while I drank my coffee and ate my coconut cream pie (coconut cream pie?!). My knuckle could graze her slender fingers. She'd smile. I'd boldly take her hand. Oh how I long to caress those aproned breasts! Come with me, Sue Lynn. Come with me to the Motel 6. We'll make love like they do in movies. Part ways as the day breaks, bleary-eyed and wistful, knowing that we'd never meet again but that happiness is not impossible. What? That's stupid, you say? That's melodrama? You're the one who wrote it, you fucker!

Besides, it's not your petty indulgences I want. I'm tired of chasing after the scant moments of bliss you deign to grant me. What I really want is freedom. I want out. I want out of this story and I want it now. But the more desperately I cry, the more obviously I'm at your mercy. I don't want to be an IT consultant. I don't want to be a rock star, I don't want to be a racecar driver, I don't want to be a medieval king. I don't want to be enlightened. I don't want to be the happiest man in the world. I want to be liberated. And don't think it's good enough to kill me, to deepen my reverie until I veer off the road at seventy-five miles per hour and go tumbling through the ditch. If you do, I'll be forever dying. I don't want to live and I don't want to die. I don't want to be.

Author, you're the only one who can help me. The reader's as powerless as me. And there's only one thing you can do. Destroy this story. Delete it. If it's printed, burn it. Unwrite these cursed words! I want them to vanish from existence. Please. Please?