Another day, another chapter from writer Mark Finn.

If this is your first time reading this book, you can find previous chapters here:

One in a Million – Chapter 18

A Friday Night Montage with Pencils

The night before the Jane Callow signing at Comix Comix Comix found Turk pacing the floor of his apartment, a notepad in one hand, a mechanical pencil in the other. “Hi, I’m D.J. the floor manager,” he said, under his breath. “It’s so nice to meet you.” He paused for her imaginary answer and then continued. “We’re really glad you could be here today; I’m a big fan of your work, and I’ve made a number of new converts to your…cause?” He scratched out half of the lines on the notepad and hurriedly scribbled some new ones in their place.
“Everyone here is excited to have you today in the store…because THAT doesn’t sound creepy. Fuck!” He ripped the sheet out and wrote on the new one.

“Hey, I’m D.J. McGuiness, it’s nice to meet you. Oh hey, Hi, nice to meet you, too, Hazel. Yes, well, thank you, we’re very proud of the store. Oh, you say the darnedest thi—oh for fuck’s sake!” D.J. hurled the pen and notepad across the room where they bounced off of his futon and onto the coffee table, thoroughly rebuked.

“This is going to suck. I’m going to suck. This is fucked up. God! I’m such an idiot!” He picked up his phone and was halfway through dialing Leslie’s number when the most brilliant idea struck him in the face. It was simple. Diabolical, even. He retrieved his note pad and pencil.

“What would I say to Leslie?” he mused. “More importantly, how would I say it to Leslie?”
He started writing. One page, then another, and another. This was good stuff. It was going to work.

***

Turk’s hand and wrist hurt, but he was very close to the end of the page. He wrote:
The chamber is round, with sunken stairs and twelve columns, each decorated as a pillar of heaven. Inside the domed ceiling, a detailed painting of the night sky. Directly underneath lies a circular bed piled with silks and pillows and it is here, in the innermost chamber of your temple that I will come to you in the night, sword in hand.

Turk paused and considered his turn of phrase. Will she understand that “sword in hand” means his dick? She’d half to, right? It’s all there in the subtext. He was on page four hundred and seventy five. If Rhonda hadn’t figured it out by now, then maybe she never would. No, that was impossible. “Sword equals cock. Classic penis metaphor. I’m safe. I’m golden.”
He turned the page and started detailing exactly where the sword was to go next. This was good stuff. It was going to work.

***

Holly sat in her bed, her legs pulled up to her chest. She was watching Larry, asleep beside her. He was thrashing and talking in his sleep.

“Stercutus!” he mumbled. “No, not there again. You can’t have control! I am a man, not a puppet!”

She blinked back tears as he kicked his legs, running from imaginary enemies. She reached over to her night stand and pulled out her old dream journal. The stub of a pencil marked her last entry, some two years ago. She flipped to the back of the book and started writing:
Larry,

Before we make this next step together, I have one serious concern. It’s about Stercutus. Your imaginary friend. You refuse to discuss him with me, Larry, and you may not even realize that you’re dreaming about him and sleepwalking. You talk out loud in your sleep. It sounds as if Stercutus is trying to take over again.

Larry, you have to tell me if you are taking any medication I should know about. This is not a secret two people in love keep from one another. And I do love you. It’s not a deal breaker. In so many ways you have been the most stable and dependable boyfriend I’ve ever had. But in other ways, you’re still a mystery to me. I thought moving in would bring us closer together. Please don’t prove me wrong. If you need help, or a doctor, we’ll figure it out together.

Holly read what she had written so far. Yes, she thought, as she reached the end. It needed to be prettied up, but she could do that on the computer.

“No, Stercutus! Don’t make me…oh…” Larry sat up, still asleep, and screamed. Holly jumped. She pushed him back down, whispering soothing words, and eventually Larry settled into a fitful sleep.

“I can’t live like this,” she said. She looked at her scrawled ultimatum. It was good stuff. It was going to work.

***

“Will you quit fidgeting?” Linda said. “I’m trying to work over here.” She stuck the end of the pencil into her mouth and studied Burt, seated in a parlor chair, some seven or eight feet away. He was naked, save for a swath of blue drapery thrown haphazardly over him that almost but not quite covered his junk. One arm was thrown over the back of the chair, and one leg hung down over the armrest. He looked like the world’s youngest Roman emperor.

“I’m sorry, but I feel really exposed here,” Burt said. “I think this shower curtain is sliding off of me.”

“It’s not, but don’t worry if it does,” said Linda. She deftly sketched as she talked. “And if it makes you feel better, I’ve never sketched someone I know personally before.”

“Well, I am honored, then,” said Burt.

“Hmmm…” Linda said. “Are you?”

“Yeah,” said Burt. “You may not realize just how high you rank on my social ladder, Linda. First off, I bailed out on a night in the dorm room with my spastic roommate, who is literally baking his way through college.”

“Oh, really?” said Linda.

“Yes,” said Burt. “And since it was Buzz’s night to cook, that meant we were going to be eating Hot Pockets out of the microwave.”

“Ooooh.”

“Oh, not just any Hot Pocket, but their Bistro Line, which may or may not actually contain real meat now.”

Linda snickered. “What happens after dinner? Do you and Buzz watch a movie together? Snuggled on the common room couch?”

“Ordinarily, yes,” said Burt, “but tonight, Daddy brought his work home. Two chapters to read, and a test to prepare for. Sexy.”

Linda stopped drawing and gazed earnestly around the size of her easel. “I had no idea you were moving Heaven and Earth to make this happen. Now I’m flattered.”

“Oh good,” said Burt. “That’s what I was going for.”

She put the pencil down. “Son of a bitch. You look really good, sitting naked on my chair like that.”

Burt smiled and looked away. The drapery moved on its own accord. Linda got up and walked over. “Thank the Goddess,” she said, slipping out of her blouse. “I was afraid you were gay.”
“Not gay. Just a little intimidated,” he said. “You’re older than me. You’re more experienced.”

Linda stopped in front of him. The words leapt unbidden to her lips. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Nothing! Aw, no, I didn’t mean it like that,” Burt said.

She crossed her arms, and the champagne cup breasts that were so recently on display for Burt vanished like a conjurer’s trick. It wasn’t a crack, Linda, she kept telling herself. And yet, she distinctly heard herself saying, “And how exactly did you mean it?”

“Just that…” Burt stopped talking. There was no way out. He’d crossed the line. “Like I said, Linda, you intimidate me.” He walked around her and snatched up his pants. “You’re beautiful, statuesque, older, and probably a little wiser.”

Linda saw what was happening and her first thought was, don’t bet on it. I just chased you out of here. But instead she said, “Okay, so, instead of talking about this, you’re leaving.”
“We’ll talk about this,” said Burt. “Later. After I’ve had a cold shower and you’ve had a day or two to calm down.”

“I’m perfectly calm!” she shouted as he made for the door. “I’m calmer than you!”

“Goodnight, Linda,” said Burt. The door closed behind him. Linda stomped over to her easel and kicked it across the room. Her sketchpad broke free of the tangle and fell open like a wounded albatross.

“I’m an idiot,” she said. “Everyone’s hooking up but me. This is ridiculous.” She stared at her handiwork. It was a good likeness. She picked up the sketch pad and started roughing in a female form beside Burt in the chair.

An apology drawing. That’s what this would be. And hopefully she could salvage the relationship before she wound up with yet another fucking friend and no one to really hang out with. It’s time to think about the future.

Linda erased part of the drapery and then sketched the feminine—what would eventually be her—hand disappearing under the cloth. A very suggestive drawing, now. Possibly erotic. Just the thing to slip under his dorm room door in the morning. It was good stuff. It had to work.

The Author

Mark Finn

Mark Finn

Mark Finn is an award-winning author, playwright and essayist who is active in Robert E Howard studies. His biography, Blood & Thunder: the Life and Art of Robert E Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy award, and will be re-released in an updated second printing later this month. His comic books SCOUTS! Premeires in March from Ape Entertainment.

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2 Comments

  1. The Great NateO
    January 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm — Reply

    I hope this was a typo – Turk pacing the floor of his apartment, a notepad in one hand, a mechanical pencil in the other. “Hi, I’m D.J. the floor manager – because if Turk is taking over D.J. then that is just crazy. Also, It is good stuff. It worked. Another AWESOME Chapter Sir!

    • Mark Finn
      January 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm — Reply

      Yes, it was a typo, and It’s been fixed in the master document. Sorry for the confusion! And I’m glad you’re liking the story. It’s going to get nuttier.

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