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FICTION / Colin Winters / Z.Z. Boone

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I don’t write much anymore, but on weekends I go through the motions. Laptop open at the kitchen table, mug of coffee, notebook flipped open, pencils sharpened. Usually I wind up playing computer solitaire or backgammon, then I put the stuff away and watch old movies. 

It was around two in the afternoon when my phone rang. Weekend calls are never good news—a parent badgering me about her kid’s grades, another teacher asking me to fill-in—but today for some reason I picked up.

“Paulo,” the voice on the other end said. “Any chance you can make it into school?”

“Chris?” I said. “Is anything wrong?”  

“Come over and find out,” he said.  

I’m the newbie. Two years out of grad school, youngest member of the faculty. Last hired is the first fired, so when the principal calls, you shed your sweat suit, switch off Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and climb into the car.

When I got there, my attention was drawn to a white stretch limo leaving the faculty lot.  Livery tags, tinted windows, almost the length of a school bus. Some enterprising company trying to get the jump on senior prom, maybe.

Inside, the building looked as vacant as a warehouse at midnight, not even that cliché janitor swabbing the hallway. A light was on in the principal’s office, the door was open, and I found Chris DelRio sitting behind his metal office desk. There was a second guy there, suit with no tie, sprawled out on the padded bench against the wall. Good looking. Fit. Short-cropped black hair and smooth skin.

“The Iceman Cometh,” DelRio said as soon as I walked in. The stranger stood and thrusted out a manicured right hand.  As we shook, I noticed a piece of leather luggage the size of a mini-fridge on wheels.

“Tell me you don’t know who this is,” DelRio said.

“I can tell you who it looks like,” I said. “It looks like Colin Winters.” 

“Bam,” DelRio said.

I grew up with Colin Winters. He was on one side of the television screen, I was on the other. He stared in this Nickelodeon series called “Lewis on the Loose,” where he played a teenager who inherits a traveling circus. It lasted a few seasons, after which Colin dropped out of sight in order to enter drug rehab. He wound up suing his parents for misappropriation, spent a year living in France, came back and got a minor role in a Woody Allen film playing himself. Movie critics raved about his performance—“Comic genius!” one called it—and Colin was cast as the lead in a gaggle of somewhat lowbrow, big budget comedies including, Shake It Off,  Jailbait, Seat of My Pants and Seat of My Pants II.

I didn’t see any of those movies, but television clips and posters were everywhere. He hosted Saturday Night Live twice, recorded a rap CD, and wrote a vegan cookbook. 

“I understand you’re the resident film buff,” Colin Winters said, and he handed me a t-shirt. On the front was this caricature. A dark-skinned teenager dressed like a pimp with a bunch of textbooks under his arm. Underneath, it read: GANGSTA GOT CLASS.  

“It’s a project I’m working on,” he said. “I was hoping you could throw me a rope.”

I looked toward DelRio who explained. He and Colin Winters’ agent had gone to Berkeley together.  Colin had just signed to make this new picture—as writer, director, and star—and DelRio was contacted as a possible resource.

“I’m thinking this young, hip teacher surrounded by a bunch of inner-city kids,” Colin explained once we were seated. “To Sir with Love but with bigger laughs.”

“Who better to lead through the valley of darkness,” DelRio said as he opened a desk drawer and came up with a bottle of Jack Daniels and some waxed Dixie Cups.  

“Yeah,” I said. “Sure. I’m glad to relate anything that—” 

“It goes deeper than that, amigo,” Colin Winters explained. He stood and paced the office like a caged hen. “I need to live in your skin. See life through your eyes. I need to become you inside that classroom.” 

DelRio stood and passed around the booze. “Colin has offered to make a sizable donation in exchange for your expertise,” he said. “He’s offered to give us enough money to remodel the computer lab with funds leftover for a generous scholarship grant.”

“Don’t you think it might be kind of hard keeping the students’ attention with a movie star sitting there?” I said.

“Perhaps you didn’t see Insincerely Yours,” Colin Winters said. “I played an African American man, an eighty year-old woman, a kid with no legs, a burn victim, and a female porn star. Did all my own makeup.”

“You should have gotten an award for that picture,” DelRio said.

“There’s one other thing,” Colin Winters said. “I’ll need to delve into your personal as well as your professional life.”

“You have space,” DelRio said. “Right?” He fell back into his office chair with a whoosh, and I wondered if he hadn’t already pounded a few before I’d got there.  

I looked over at Colin Winters. “You’d want to live with me?”

“One week,” Colin Winters said. Then he laughed. “Hey, I’m no homo if that’s what’s on your mind.”

I set my untouched drink on the floor by the leg of my chair. My heart was beating at what I’m sure was an unhealthy rate, but I didn’t want to appear overly anxious.

“Sure,” I said. “That could work.”

“Super,” Colin Winters said as he threw back his whiskey. “Where are we parked?”

 

Joel Jacobs High School is embedded in Oakfield like a splinter in the sole of your foot. Ten years ago the city council planned an overhaul, but state politics intervened and the place remains a downtrodden dump, its nineteenth century textile factories now substandard housing.          

Ten miles north is Jasmine Ridge, a tenant-patrolled community consisting of twenty-two buildings, four-to-six units in each. The streets are named after former presidents, and my apartment is a standard one-bedroom on Eisenhower which Colin Winters seemed totally unimpressed with. I offered him the bedroom and he didn’t argue. 

“But forget I’m here,” he said.  

“Can I get you something to eat?”

“No special treatment,” he said. “What you eat, I eat.”

I told him I’d probably just throw together a BLT. Maybe microwave some fries. 

“Oo,” he said. “Problematic. Pork’s not on my to-do list.”

I had enough stuff for a salad which Colin Winters accepted. But when I was draining my bacon on a paper towel, he came over to the kitchen counter and picked up a slice.

“I shouldn’t even touch this,” he said. “Toxic.” He took a bite, which surprised me, then shook his head. “So why does it have to taste so fucking good?” 

Around seven, I changed the sheets on the bed and grabbed an undershirt and a pair of sweatpants. Colin Winters watched “Adventure Time” on Cartoon Network. When I came out into the living room, he wanted to know what I had planned for the rest of the night. I told him I had some essays to grade and after that I’d probably turn in.

“Whoa,” he said. “Welcome to the wild life.”

I explained that I liked to get up early and maybe read or do a little writing before I had to leave for school.

“You write?” he said.

It was the question I was waiting for. The real reason I eagerly chose to inconvenience myself. I was all for renovating the computer lab, sure, but my intention wasn’t totally unselfish. I had this screenplay I’d been working on the entire time I was in graduate school. I’d finished it a year ago, queried every agent in North America, sent out sample scenes and bound copies, entered contests sponsored by Disney and Sony and Sundance. I’d also become very accustomed to receiving replies that started out with the word unfortunately.

“I have this script,” I said.

“You and every other swingin’ dick,” Colin Winters said. “What’s it about?”

“You can read it if you want.”

“Just tell me.”

So I sat on the sofa facing his chair and I pitched. 

“It’s 1950. A young boxer named Frankie Rudolph decides to travel to Ireland and take over the old family farm. When he gets there, he falls in love with a local girl. Problem is, she’s got this tough-guy brother who’s after the farm himself. It’s soon revealed that the reason Frankie quit boxing is because he killed a man in the ring. The girl’s brother doesn’t know this and thinks Frankie’s a coward. So they wind up having a fight—it lasts all day and all night and everyone in town winds up coming out to see it—and after both men can no longer stand, they realize they’ve gained this mutual respect. That there’s no reason they all can’t run the farm as a family. Which is exactly what they do.”     

Colin Winter’s just kind of sat there and stared at me. Finally, he said, “It sounds old school.”

I told him it was loosely based on The Quiet Man with John Wayne. “It’ll make more sense if you read it,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “Leave a copy somewhere.”

He got up and went into my bedroom and closed the door. I took a breath. After two years in a profession I hated, perhaps providence had finally provided a break, 

             

The next morning, my back sore from sleeping on a corduroy couch that doesn’t fold out, I opened my eyes and smelled what I immediately recognized as pot. The kids at Joel Jacobs smoked it openly, not even bothering to palm their joints when faculty passed them in the hallway. 

In my kitchen, a total stranger was boiling water on the stove. He looked around twenty and hip. His red hair fashionably unkempt, his Lincolnesque beard nicely sculpted. Gray cargo pants, lightweight blue pullover. I took him for someone who worked for Colin Winters, a driver maybe, or some kind of assistant.

“Who are you?” I said.

The guy turned and looked at me.

“Dude,” he smiled. “You no longer love me?”

“Colin?”

He chuckled, slid a thick set of glasses up the bridge of his nose, took the kettle off the stove and poured hot water into a bowl.

“Not ‘Colin,’” he said. “I’m your student teacher,” he said. “Guess what my name is?”

I shook my head.

“Frankie Randolph. Same as your character.”  

I looked toward the counter and saw my script where I’d placed it, apparently untouched. “It’s Frankie Rudolph,” I said.

“Let’s make it Randolph,” Colin Winters said. “Less reindeer confusion.”

He stirred whatever was in the bowl and some indescribably rancid odor rose up to blend with the smell of marijuana.

“What is that?” I asked him.

“I blend it myself,” he said.  “There’s millet, there’s faro, there’s amaranth… You interested?”

Again I shook my head. “I need caffeine.”

“Nice way to burn a hole in your stomach,” Colin Winters said. He sat at the table while I flicked on the coffee maker.

“You smoke,” I said.

Colin froze, his spoon stopping midway between the table and his chin.  “Mia culpa,” he said. “I should have cleared it with you. But the fact is I have glaucoma and I can’t sleep if the pressure in my eyes builds up.”

“It’s prescribed?”

This made him grin. “Well, not exactly,” he said, then returned to whatever nastiness he was eating.  

 

Colin Winters played it perfectly. Introduced to my colleagues in the teachers’ lounge he acted insincere and cloying. I could sense he was immediately disliked. Inside class, after the students gaped at him and whispered like terrorists, he took a seat in the back. 

At 2:10, just before my last class was to start, he pulled me aside and said, “Bro. Let me do this one.”  

I was hesitant. It was my toughest group and they followed the lead of a kid named Lenin Diaz, a twenty year-old senior who sat reclined against one of the side walls and who most of us knew was meeting one of the married cafeteria ladies after school.  

“I don’t know,” I told him. “The union has these regulations.”

“Listen to me,” he said. “Allow me this experience and I’ll do full coverage on your script as soon as we get back.”

I hesitated a second, maybe two.  

“Twenty minutes,” I told him. “And if you need to bail, don’t hesitate.”

Colin Winters didn’t perform badly. This was my second section of composition, and he’d apparently taken in enough to repeat the lesson he’d sat through earlier. I watched from the back of the room as he repeated my words, my hand gestures, the notes I’d written on the board. When Lenin Diaz’s cellphone chirped, as it does at least a couple of times each class, Colin Winters lifted it out of his hand before the kid could answer. 

“Hi,” Colin Winters said to the whoever was on the other end. “Que tal?” 

The students stared uneasily, unsure what to expect, while Lenin gaped like a goldfish with its lips pressed against the bowl. “Class ends at 2:55,” Colin Winters told the caller. “Why don’t you try him then?” Laughter started to spread and I was surprised, as I looked around the room and noticed that no one was laughing harder than Lenin himself.

“You did well,” I told Colin Winters in the car on the way back to my apartment.

“You think?” he asked. 

“If you ever decide to give up movies,” I said, but then I left the thought unfinished.

 

The next two days went by in routine fashion. Colin Winters at home, Frankie Randolph at school. He’d stopped smoking marijuana, at least in my bedroom, and I would hear him passing through the kitchen to the use the bathroom. He asked to read through my course text books, but my script remained where I’d placed it. I decided not to pester. I was letting him spend more time in front of the students and he was good enough that I suspected rather than working on Gangsta Got Class, he was spending those late evening hours putting together lesson plans. 

On Thursday afternoon, he started the comp class by writing on the board: LENIN DIAZ IS A DICK-FACED MONKEY FUCKER. 

All eyes shot in Lenin’s direction and I could see the kid sit straight up as his jaw visible tightened. 

“Can anybody tell me what I just did?” Colin Winters asked.

“Signed your death warrant?” somebody said.

“I created a metaphor. I took something you’re familiar with and compared to something foreign.”

Colin Winters stepped over and stopped in front of Lenin.

“We all know that this comparison is invalid,” Colin said. “But if I’d written ‘Lenin Diaz is a sweetheart,’ I doubt I’d have gotten anyone’s attention.” He held his hand out for a high-five and Lenin slapped it. 

“We cool?” Colin asked.

“Whatever you say, boss,” Lenin said.

 

In June, I’d met Marie McAlduff through a free online dating sight, and our relationship seemed to prove the worn cliché that you get what you pay for. Marie was small and dark and round as an opossum. A waitress who worked nights. She was a couple of years younger than I was, interested—she claimed—in books and films and “a romance with legs.” 

We went on a few dates, and after what I convinced myself was an adequate amount of time, I took her to my apartment in an effort to kick things up a bit. It was at that time that I was told by Ms. McAlduff that she did not believe in sex until a couple was totally committed. She didn’t pretend to be a virgin—quite to the contrary—but she said that she’s had this religious awakening and that few lasting relationships were ever formed after “the shroud was lifted.”

What she would permit was dimmed light, hourlong kissing sessions on my corduroy couch at which time her top would be taken off and we would engage in at least twenty minutes of what she referred to as “a full-body hug.” Afterwards, I’d be informed that things had gone as far as they were going to go and that it was time to say goodnight.

Not surprisingly, these encounters left me feeling rather frustrated, but I wasn’t willing to end things, not just yet, not when I sensed I was gradually gaining ground. I’d gone from having my hand slapped away anytime it wandered too far south, to being able to touch her jean-clad thighs and even running my fingertips along her beltline.   

Our different work schedules didn’t help, either. Marie was off on Monday and Thursday,  but worked twelve-hour shifts on the weekends. Usually, we’d get together on Thursday night  to perform our non-mating ritual. Around 2 A.M. we’d rise from the couch—our exposed skin lined from the corduroy—and she’d straighten herself in the bathroom while I mentally prepared for school in a few hours.

I offered an edited version of these circumstances to Colin Winters as we ate something billed as “Vegetarian Pho” in the high school cafeteria. 

“Say no more,” he said reaching for his rectangular bottle of spring water.  

I told him I appreciated it, said I was sure Chris DelRio wouldn’t mind taking the reins for one night.

                                                

That evening it rained but Marie arrived, as she did every Thursday, at exactly nine o’clock. Pizza in hand, six-pack of Amstel Light, rented movie that we’d half-heartedly watch while we necked. 

But there was something different about her. Under her raincoat Marie McAlduff, whom I’d never seen dressed in anything other than jeans and a nondescript blouse, wore a loose black skirt, pink scoop neck t-shirt, and suede clogs. On anyone else those clothes would have seemed unremarkable. On Marie, they seemed to whisper Your move.

She appeared edgy and avoided eye contact as we ate at my kitchen table. I tried to carry the conversation, but the sad truth was we’d never had much to discuss. Marie could talk about her parents whom she still lived with and whom I’d yet to meet. She’d tell me about the waitstaff at the place where she worked. The books she claimed to love were romance novels, an ilk I stayed clear of. Even our film preferences couldn’t have been further apart. I relished the oldies: Ben-Hur, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard. Marie was all about modern-day, starry-eyed love flicks.    

Halfway through the meal, I went to the fridge for a second beer and heard a slight rustling behind me. When I turned, there stood Marie, topless, backed up against the table. She held her arms open in a manner I’d never seen before, and the novelty of the moment made me put my beer aside and go to her. 

It was a standing full-body hug and tonight—for the first time—Marie was the aggressor. She pulled back only long enough to unbutton her skirt which dropped to the floor and puddled around her feet. I thought about sweeping everything off the table like I’d seen in the movies, but I was brought up not to waste food and these were the only plates I had.  

“Are you sure?” I said.

“Relax,” she said. “I’ve prayed about this and got the go-ahead.” 

“I don’t know,” I said. “It seems weird.”

The passion I’d seen in Marie’s eyes dulled like a doused campfire. “I get it,” she said. “Under full light I’m just fat and ugly.”

I tried to assure her that wasn’t the case. That it was more the situation. That she’d caught me entirely off-guard.

“Fat and ugly,” she repeated.

There was a knock at my door. Marie and I stared at one another—for all I knew it was God reaffirming her request—then she quickly grabbed her clothes and darted into the bathroom.

“Am I disturbing?” Colin Winters asked through six inches of open door. He looked like himself now, slightly damp from the rain, wigless and clean-shaven. “I just need to talk a second,” he said, so I undid the brass chain and let him in.

“I got this idea I wanted to bounce off somebody,” he said before I even got the door closed. Colin Winters sniffed the air. “Is that pizza?”

I followed him into the kitchen. 

“So I’m in DelRio’s basement listening to the man talk about god-knows-what when it comes to me. The character I’m creating? A teacher in an economically challenged school? It needs something.”  He continued to speak as he chewed. “But what if that teacher wants to be a screenwriter. That’s his motivation. Except he sucks at it. Hasn’t had an original thought in his life.”

“You came all the way here to tell me this?” I said.

“I came all the way here to make sure you were okay with it.”

“Oh my God,” I heard somebody say, and when I looked toward the bathroom Marie was standing there with her hands folded as if she was practicing for First Holy Communion. “You’re Colin Winters,” she said.

“A lot of people make that mistake,” Colin Winters said.

“No mistake,” Marie said taking a few tentative steps forward. “I’ve seen every movie you’ve ever been in.”

“That’s super,” Colin Winters said, and then he turned his attention back to me. “So what do you think?” he said.

I told him I didn’t know. That I’d have to let it sink in. He said fine. We could talk in the morning. He turned toward Marie and apologized for any interruption.”

“It’s all right,” Marie said. “I was just on my way out.”

“In this downpour?” Colin said. “C’mon. I’ve got a cab outside.”

“Really?” Marie said.

“Least I can do.”

I watched them leave together. It wasn’t even 9:30 yet and I was totally awake. My script, I noticed, was still on the kitchen counter next to the sink. I retrieved the beer I’d abandoned, then walked into the living room and put on the DVD that Marie had forgotten about. Two people with cancer fall in love. The woman dies and the guy finds the strength to battle the disease alone. In the very last scene he’s putting this teddy bear she’d given him on her grave.

“Persevere,” he says through his tears as the camera pans up and away. Except I may have misheard it. It may have been “Percy Bear.”

 

Colin Winters wound up having sex with Marie. He’d gotten a lift to school with Chris DelRio, told him the story on the ride over, asked what he thought I’d do if the situation was reversed.

“I think Paulo would come clean,” DelRio told him.

And that’s what he did. Waited outside in the faculty parking lot, once more under the guise of Frankie Randolph, and when I pulled in he opened my car door like a valet. 

“She was all over me in the taxi, bro. Dragged me out once we got to her place and did me right there on the front porch swing.”

“I don’t need details,” I said. 

“But here’s the thing,” he said as we walked toward the building. “I did it picturing I was you. I was simply trying to experience the same emotion you might feel.”

“Bullshit,” I said. He stepped in front and blocked my forward progress.

“Listen a second,” he said. “This is important. We got done and we talked for—I don’t know—hours. This is not some empty pair of shoes. Uh-uh. This is one very special lady and you, my friend, are one lucky man.”

I wondered what they could have possible talked about for more than five minutes but I didn’t ask.

“You promised to read my script,” I said.

“It’s an agenda item,” he said. “Swear to God.”

I told him I was going to be late for class and started to step around him, but he grabbed the sleeve of my sportscoat. 

“You’re upset,” he said. “I get that. Let me make it up to you. Let me make dinner tonight. You sit there with your feet up while I read your—”

“Forget it,” I said. “Just forget it.”

 

I didn’t stay angry; how could I? Any honest feelings I had for Marie were nonexistent, and I should have had the spine to tell her that. Besides, I’d gotten to like this guy, this Colin Winters. I’d watch him in the classroom, how he was already coming into his own. The kids liked him, too. After just a few days he knew most of them by their first names while I still struggled. I’d even noticed him chatting with Lenin Diaz out in the hallway. Like old buddies. Two peas in the proverbial pod.

In the car, he brought up making dinner again, and I agreed as long as I could supervise. “Let’s go potluck,” he said. “Whatever you have at your place, we’ll throw together.” He had me stop at a liquor where he bought a bottle of champagne, and when I asked him what the occasion was, he said, “You’ll see.” 

Back at my place we gathered together stuff I’d forgotten I’d even had. Things tucked into dark cabinet corners and hidden deep inside my freezer. Toaster waffles and frozen asparagus and canned salmon. We drank champagne and acted like a couple of kids preparing breakfast on Mother’s Day. Colin didn’t even bothered to peel off his makeup, one of the first things he usually did once we were home. 

When the meal was all but done, when we sat at the kitchen table and picked away at pickles and red cabbage and apple sauce pulled from the back of the fridge. I hadn’t seen him this happy and I told him so. 

“Which,” he said, “ties in directly with what I want to tell you.”

I’d been thinking about this ever since he baited me in the car. I want to credit you as the co-writer on this project, I thought he might say. Or, I want you to quit your job and come to California

“I’m not going back,” Colin Winters said.

“What do you mean?”

“To L.A. I’m not going back.”

“You’re staying here?”

He laughed. “Well not here here,” he said. “Here. As in ‘this life.’”

“Why would you went to do that?”

“You said it yourself, bro. I’m happy. And you know why I’m happy? Because this is real. ”

“It’s not always that easy,” I said, but by now Colin was on his feet, moving around,  burning energy. 

“I mean, shit. Look at me. Colin Winters. It’s not even my real name! I’m Albert Lyles from Scarsdale. Ten years old and my parents are sending me on cattle calls. I didn’t want that. I wanted this. I wanted normal.”

“What about Gangsta Got Class?”

Colin stopped by the fridge and starred at me. “C’mon, man,” he said. “The entire concept sucks and you know it.”

“I thought you were contractional obligated.” 

“To turn in a project. Yes. But there’s nothing that says it has to be Gangsta Got Class.” He reached over and picked up my script. “It could be this.”

I stood up and started clearing the table. “You never read it,” I said.

“I don’t have to read it,” Colin Winters said. “All I have to do is greenlight it.”

“Even if it stinks?”

Colin smiled at this. “In Hollywood,” he said, “everything stinks.” 

As I started to fill the sink, I noticed him glancing over at the kitchen clock. 

“I have to head out,” he said.

“Right now?”

“I’ll be back. I just need to meet Lenin Diaz real quick.”

“For what?”

“I’m smoked out. My man is fixing me up with some quality cheeba.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” I told him. “Lenin Diaz lives over in Brownwood, and that’s not a section you want to wander around in.”

“I’ll be fine,” Colin said. “Let me borrow your car.”

 

He didn’t come right back, in fact he didn’t come back that night at all. I waited up. Sat on the couch and started to flip through my screenplay. Pictured it on the big screen, people watching, my name attached. Beautiful women and big checks. Sunny Cali-for-ni-a. I made a few marginal notes, but stopped less than halfway through. 

It wasn’t a good script. Not even marginal. A 120-page lottery ticket. 

 

I didn’t see Colin Winters again until late Saturday morning, less than an hour after I was informed he was in St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“Mr. Winters is in stable condition,” I was told over the phone, “but requests you bring over some clean clothing and toiletries.”

I dug some fresh underwear, a set of clothing, and a shaving kit from his suitcase and put them in a plastic grocery bag. Called a Uber. When I got to St. Joe’s there he was, sitting up in bed. He had a bruise that covered one side of his face, a swollen lip, a “mouse” under his left eye. The bridge of his broken nose was heavily taped. 

“They want to keep me another day for observation,” he said, “but I think it’s just because not all the nurses have taken selfies yet.”

“So what happened?” I asked.

“I was ambushed,” Colin Winters said. “Lenin and a couple of his friends led me down into some basement, took my money and proceeded to wale on me. It wasn’t until my wig flew off and my beard got swatted away that they recognized who I was. ‘That’s Colin Winters!’ one of them said. ‘That’s the funniest bitch on the planet!’ They helped me up and they brushed me off and after we smoked a blunt, they dropped me here.” He tried to smile. “If it wasn’t for Colin Winters, I’d probably be dead.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Help me get out of this place.” 

            

We picked up my car, miraculously unharmed, in Brownwood where Colin had left it. He borrowed my phone—his having been crushed under the heel of Lenin Diaz—and I heard him giving somebody my address.

“No,” he said to whomever he was talking to. “Everything’s good. Everything’s fine. I got my character. Just send a car.”

“So it’s back on?” I asked once Colin cut off the call.

Gangsta Got Class?” he said. “Yeah. Why wouldn’t it be?”

 

We didn’t say much once we were back at my place. I helped Colin pack up and right before he zipped his suitcase, he said, “Why don’t you give me a copy of your script to throw in?”        

“That’s all right,” I told him. “I imagine you have enough on your plate.”

I looked out the window and saw it pull in. The white limo, its headlights on even though it was still daytime. Colin apparently saw it at the same time. “That’ll be me,” he said. He gave me one of those “bro hugs,” then popped up the handle on his suitcase. “Look me up if you make it to Santa Monica,” he said, but I think we both knew that wasn’t very likely. 

I watched out the window as he got into the limo and it pulled away. It was three-thirty, a little too early for dinner and much too late for lunch. A good time, I figured, to email Marie McAlduff and apologize for being such a jerk.

But when I opened my laptop at the kitchen table, I couldn’t come up with the words. Just starred at the screen, my hands posed over the keyboard. 

I don’t write much anymore, I finally typed, but on weekends I go through the motions.


Z.Z. Boone's fiction has appeared in New Ohio Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Berkeley Fiction Review, The Adroit Journal, FRiGG, Bird’s Thumb, 2 Bridges Review, and other terrific places. Off Somewhere, a collection of short stories, was published by Whitepoint Press and nominated for an Indie Award.