Stoneworth didn’t give a fig about life. As far as he was concerned it could end in a breath and that would be just fine with him. He had lived long enough and life was a bunch of bull. Every step he took he stepped in a big pile of a reminder of it.
“Mr. Stoneworth, may I have your autograph, please,” said the young girl.
Stoneworth looked at the book and pen offered. Gritting his teeth he put on his best fake grin and signed one of his somehow formulaic but popular mysteries. If he thought it all was crap then why did he care if the girl was happy or not? Perhaps he didn’t want it to be all bad, maybe he wanted a sign of something good. Or maybe he wanted to pay bills until the crap buried him.
He left the tip on the table and then the cafe behind. His burger was not even half eaten. It was not a normal bull day.
It was worse. It was like rodeo week and he was the head scooper.
He should have stayed home and eaten the frozen Chinese dinner. It would match the frozen ears he had from the early winter wind. His work was now going to suck the rest of the day and night and he was going to be hungry. Any flow of plot he had was gone. And he had a deadline. Ten days or death would be knocking at his door. Either death or his agent. They looked about the same.
His apartment smelled like burnt hot chocolate, not coffee. He had tried the stuff but couldn’t drink it until it had enough milk, sugar and chocolate syrup in it to taste like hot chocolate. Why waste the time and the money? Just cut out the middle men.
He looked at the wall thermostat and the screwed on lock box. Freaking landlord. 65 degrees. He left his coat on and turned the small electric heater on. He let it oscillate just to have some noise in the place.
Even though he knew his purpose of the day was ruined he sat down at the laptop anyway. The 1 appeared at the top of one tab of the many opened in his browser for research on ancient Central American civilizations. His thoughts improved with hope.
He had mail. The list of songs were long and not quite his usual fare but he listened. She had sent them. He didn’t listen to much music. It caused headaches. But from her, the headaches didn’t happen. They inspired him.
My beauty has given a gift to me
One I don’t often have time to take
It could not be more sweet and dear
Unless the music her own fingers did make
How is one so beautiful
How is she in my life
If by chance life did change
He looked up at the ghastly form approaching. He stared through it. Why would it not leave him be? The ghost of a past that was no longer his. All he wanted was the now, the reality of what is.
He did not need what was the never was. He closed his eyes and pressed his hands together until his fingers turned white. The music started again in his ears.
Stoneworth moved his hands to his ears and pressed hard. Forcing the music in. Driving the hate away.
The pain seared through his brain and down his spine. Cackling laughter reached his now unprotected ears. He slowly sank to the floor unable to control his movements. His body arched as spasms began.
He shut his eyes tight. Focus on her eyes, those brown eyes, focus. The cackling continued. The pain continued. But suddenly he did not care. He felt warmth touch his skin. A smile crossed his face. It didn’t matter. There was a light he could see now for the first time. And music. He was climbing higher and higher. His dream was there, higher than he had ever been before. A beauty like he would never witness again.
“I don’t know officer. I came in when he missed his deadline for a book he was writing and found him.”
“Did you turn that heater on?”
“No officer. It was already going. I moved it away from his face though. It was really close.”
“Well, it looks like a heart attack.”
“He always said that’s how he would go.”
“Well, this looks like another case he solved before he ever got a chance to write it.”
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