Working Title (Writing Wrongs)

Yet he paced, barefoot in his underwear and a robe with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. He had no other thoughts in his mind save for the singular concept of; left, right, left, right. So he paced.

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              He paced around the room with an urgent sense of desire. Desire for an inspiration he felt he was lacking. Desire for a solution to the conundrum that was placed before him. An obstacle unwilling to be altered by his current frame of mind. So he paced across the room, then back across, and back again. He paced through his small dingy kitchen, with a small hot plate instead of a stove and no microwave. A mini fridge with three beers and a small ice box with several microwaveable dinners, an irony that wasn’t lost on him. He paced past his tiny bathroom that had a toilet and a sink. The shower was down the hall, a shared facility but the doors lock was broken. He paced around his couch, which was also his pull-out bed. Between his coffee table stained with cigarette burns and beer spills. The carpet he paced upon was equally as stained and worn. Many a tenant had lived atop this carpet and the amount of cleanings it had did assuredly not match up. Yet he paced, barefoot in his underwear and a robe with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. He had no other thoughts in his mind save for the singular concept of; left, right, left, right. So he paced.

              Nights like this were not outrageously uncommon for Will, he had spent so few nights in peace that he almost welcomed the agitations. Sleep was no more his friend than the whiskey he’d try and drown himself in yet somehow neither would help him rest. Will was a writer. At least he fancied himself as one and had spent quite a number of his years striving to maintain that title. He was at this moment only months away from his 28th birthday. An occasion he hadn’t celebrated in years and instead would most likely spend in some dive bar failing to garner the attention of a lady and scribbling on a cocktail napkin. Will wasn’t struggling so much as he liked to appear he was yet he felt it more honest and true to his craft if he appeared as such. He was a fairly handsome man and in decent shape despite his vices and lack of nutrition; yet Will did all he could to avoid love at any cost. Saying “Love is an incredible source of inspiration, but a distraction from your craft”. So he found a form of that inspiration in fleeting and momentary flings, never looking back afterwards. His family had disowned him after many unsuccessful attempts to rein him in and set forth a proper educational path that led to a career and a future. Will despised the idea of the safe route, saying such things as: “I would rather be dead than safe!” And “Art is the only beauty in this world and I wouldn’t sacrifice that for all the money in the world!”. Others had always laughed off his convictions or called them unrealistic, Will never paid them any mind. He had burned more bridges than he had ever built in his life, which could be pegged as the reason why his first publication drew no attention or notice from his peers. It was a small piece in a local magazine, just a short story of only a few paragraphs yet Will was quite proud of it. The story was about a young boy who found a wishing well and used his wish to find true love but when he turned to leave he slipped and fell into the well, drowning. It was aptly titled “Wishing Well”. It was actually fairly well written and the editor had wanted Will to submit more. Will however declined, saying that he wouldn’t waste his time writing for a small magazine again but that he wanted to publish something on a larger scale, for himself. Which he ended up doing a few years later.

Shortly after his 21st birthday Will had a major falling out with his family. They had arranged several interviews for him and got him work suits as gifts. They obviously had meant well, only intending to help their son realize his potential and actually become a stronger participating member of society. Not to say that art isn’t an important aspect of society, just to say that since that magazine article had come out two years prior he hadn’t made much progress in the way of producing anything else. His relevancy had been just a blip on the radar and faded even faster than it was created. Will was furious and moved out that week, saying such things as “You never supported my craft!” And “You always wanted me to fail!”. Will then moved into his one and only friends basement, a loyal man by the name of Derek. Derek was a great friend to Will, a far better friend than Will had ever been to him.They had started their friendship in grade school when Will had stopped the class bully from beating on Derek. They had never spent much of those times publicly friendly as Will was more popular than Derek. The tables turned much later in life when Derek wound up as a successful architect while Will slept on his couch. A debt that Will swore he’d pay back but Derek never expected to see. The couch was only available to Will for a few months, up until he made some choice remarks to Derek’s then girlfriend, now wife, which landed him out the door and on his ass. From there he bummed around, sitting in 24 hour diners and breaking into shitty motels. Finally, realizing that his art was suffering due to the inability to actually produce any material he finally phoned home, it had been almost 9 months since he’d left. He phoned and told them that he would get his act together and take their advice, finally straighten out his life. So they set him up in a small studio apartment, game him a fair sized chunk of money for tuition and told him to get enrolled in a program for the fall. Will smiled sweetly and thanked them sincerely, then when they had left him to his own devices he skipped town, and never spoke to them again despite their best efforts. They had given him enough money for a basic college program so it wouldn’t last forever but Will knew he could afford an even smaller bachelor and a typewriter and have enough to last at least half a year without working. He could finally be free to follow his passion and create.

Ending his publishing hiatus with his first novella halfway through his 23rd year, Will felt a wash of relief. It was a longer story for a novella, clocking in at almost 100 pages. It was about a serial killer in a large industrious city. He used the title Washing Wounds. The story employed the tool of empathy to force readers to connect with a sociopath and then closed off the tale with him murdering a child. It did moderately well, although was widely panned due to its gruesome content, though he made a couple bucks and received some praise from those in the writing community. He avoided a lot of those circles and kept almost entirely to himself. Save for the bars he sometimes frequented he rarely left his apartment. He still had money left from his parents although it was dangerously low. Will knew what that meant, he would have to start working for his money. A proposition that he didn’t favour. After pondering the idea for a full week he decided on a secondary choice. He phoned back home after a two year absence. His mother was pleased to hear from him, his father less so endearing. Apparently all was well at home and they were eager to see him. Will asked to be left alone but did plead with them for assistance. His father said no and told him to “Grow up, can’t you see how much of your life you’re wasting?!”. Yet his mother didn’t share that opinion, and promised him that she would pay his rent, as long as he kept in touch on a weekly basis. Will hated that notion, tossing around comments in his head such as ‘Fuck you! You just want to control me!’ And ‘You’re just jealous that I’m actually creating art that’s truly beautiful!’. Going against those instincts he agreed, although on the condition that he would only be required to speak to her, that his father would remain out of the deal. This arrangement worked for a while, and Will was surprisingly okay with the weekly conversations, even going so far as to occasionally double up on the phone calls and even attend a coffee or brunch once or twice. His mother was most interested in what he was currently working on, showing genuine care and curiosity for his craft. He was surprised that she asked about it so frequently yet he was always delighted to share. What he was working on was a project of even grander proportions, this time a full fledged novel. It was meant to be a masterpiece. He would sometimes refer to it as his ‘Manifesto’ when in conversation. The two had become quite close over the span of the next year and a half, they even spent his 24th birthday together. He quite enjoyed her company, and she didn’t mind paying his rent as long as she had Will in her life. All seemed to make sense at this stage, until a fatal car crash took the lives of both Wills parents. It was a random accident, no one was at fault, and no one was to blame. Will felt almost nothing for his father, yet he wept a full week for his mother. Despite his preferred choice, Will attended the funeral, he wore sweatpants and his hoodie and chose not to speak. Afterwards, he was contacted by a lawyer and told that his parents had a joint will, and his father explicitly stated that nothing would be left to him. However; recently his mother altered the will, adding an addendum that whatever assets she had left in her name, including her personal savings would be left to Will. He thanked the lawyer and hung up, his dream would at least still be funded by the ghost of the woman he’d only just gotten to know. He was thankful yet felt somewhat guilty, that was when the drinking started.

The smoking had come years earlier after a brief encounter with the opposite gender had left him with several scratches on his back and a pack of cigarettes on the kitchen counter. He figured ‘Why not, all the great writers did it’. The loss of his parents had slowed the progression of his masterpiece, almost entirely halting the process in favour of binge drinking and casual sex. That phase lasted until he was 26, when his inspiration was reignited by a drunken conversation with an addict. It was eye-opening for Will, and he ran home and wrote fifty pages. That begun a seemingly endless string of identical days. Will woke at 11 in the morning, had a beer and a cigarette for breakfast. Started writing at noon, would stop at around 4 in the afternoon to have another drink and whatever food he had in his fridge, the smoking was intermittent. Then he would write again until 8 or 9, where he would head across the street to the dingy bar for his usual activities. When that proved useless he would return home, usually accompanied by a bottle of his favourite, which he’d open in the stairwell to get a head start. After returning home with a healthy buzz he would sit and write some more. The last few months however had been a little different. The wheels had come to a halt, gears ground down and the fires had all but gone out. Thus began the pacing. Will had so far amassed a total of 246,810 words, which equaled about 400 manuscript pages and almost 900 book pages. He was so close to the end he could taste it. He would sometimes lay on the floor, with his cigarette and his bottle, going over every last detail of his tale and the ending was there, right in his sights but his reach fell too short. He couldn’t grasp that final line, that perfect ending, the one thing that he desired. Will had never felt lonely in all the years he’d spent on his own. He’d sometimes in the middle of pacing stop and stare at the door to his suite, and wonder what would happen if someone were to knock. Who would it be? Why would they be there? What would they want? It was a question you couldn’t answer until it happened. He didn’t know of anyone who would care to visit, let alone even call or write him. Yet he never questioned his motive, he believed he was put on the earth to accomplish a task, a task he was finally going to achieve with the completion of his book. He had titled it ‘Writing Wrongs’ a sort of play on words that he found he liked. He sometimes found himself talking to the walls about its impending greatness that it would “Change the world! Change how people think!”. It just needed its ending, and then he could rest. On this particular night his pacing was more frantic, he traversed his small square footage rather quickly. He went from kitchen to living room to bedroom to kitchen to living room to bedroom and back. He had maybe a quarter left in his bottle and accidentally lit a new cigarette after he forgot he had one already going in the ashtray on his desk. He felt more cagey than usual and mumbled to himself in a hurry. He’d skipped his usual trip to the bar and instead stuck to his pacing routine while he drank and smoked. Thinking, drinking, smoking and pacing. Smoking, pacing, thinking and drinking. Then it came to him. Putting the bottle on the floor and leaving his cigarette between his lips, he sat at the typewriter and tapped out the last line, it read; and then there was a knock at the door. He turned around.

The End.

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