Thursday, February 19, 2009

N's Last - Part Three

"You need to read this."


"You need to read this."

Bill blinked. He moved his hand from the receiver. "Hello? Hey, yeah. I'm going to have to call you back."

He hung up and took the manuscript from Theo, who began pacing the room, finally settling at the window. Arms crossed, legs shoulder-width, he stared out at the street and chewed on his lip.

"I don't see what the problem is. It's definitely genuine," Bill said.

"Did you actually read it?" Theo moved across the room, grabbing the story. "Look: ‘the bunny hopped as if in slow motion, his owner did not chase him, for there was no need in this land; things moved differently here, and-'"

Bill interrupted. "I read it."

"We can't publish this."

"It's by N."

"It's terrible."

Bill was angry now. "Are you kidding me? The man wrote the best fiction in the world. He sold millions of copies of every single book. Critics raved. The man is the best."

"He was the best," Theo corrected him. "Not anymore. Look at this – it's awful. If we print this we ruin the quarterly. We ruin N. No one's heard from him in thirty years. The guy went crazy."

Bill stood up, his voice measured, his fists clenched, his face inches from his fellow editor's. "If we publish this, we make a million bucks on one issue."

"Is money all you ever think about, you conniving bastard?"

"You don't have a family," Bill said between gritted teeth, "your paycheck doesn't matter. Mine does."

Theo yelled. "I don't care about your goddamn paycheck, Bill, we can't publish this."

Bill's punch was quick. It hit Theo in the nose. Something cracked. Theo fell.

There was a beat. Bill steadied his breathing.

"We have to publish it."

He grabbed the phone and left, slamming the door behind him. Theo could hear him dialing in the next room. Grabbing N's story, he picked himself up and walked over to the door.

Bill heard the click, and his heart sunk. He dropped the phone. "Theo," he yelled, yanking the locked handle furiously, "open the door."

Theo took out his lighter.


jeff said...

What's wrong with bunnies? :-)

Esteban said...

The excerpt from the story didn't sound THAT bad. I mean if it was broken english or something (like "the bunny hungry. it no eat food in 5 days and soon die."), that would be something they couldn't publish.

Carissa said...

i like the picture and i like the bunnies

untia said...

I found the "conniving" seemed out of place.

Jeff said...

i like, very well done.