The Ghost Writer
This is another one-off I wrote at about the same time as Diary of a Dead Man. It’s a little darker, hope you enjoy.
Sitting with his back to the faded, old window, it almost felt like he was alive. Outside the evening air was stale, held stagnant by a bitter chill. Red drapes hung on either side, not doing much to stop light from coming in, but mostly serving to give the room the feeling of heavy despair. For the fiftieth time, he reached for the pen, and tried to pick it up between his fingers, and for the fiftieth time, it fell through them, causing nothing but frustration.
On the brown, wooden desk before him was an empty yellow legal pad. To Lee, it looked like a window, held open for him to gaze through, but guarded by heavy iron bars. A pale yellow light shimmering from beneath a piece of curved green glass shone on the paper illuminating its lines like tiny railroad tracks.
Lee could put nothing on the page, and it was not for lack of wanting or ideas. His head buzzed with a million of them, trapped, and making desperate breaks to get out. He could even speak them aloud, but the simple act of grabbing the pen was an impossibility. Even when he did manage to lift it, even for a second, it would slip through his fingers and clatter to the table.
Hot rage burned in Lee’s mind, and he even wished he could manifest it physically. A headache, something that could tell him that the pain he was feeling was real. The room around him remained bland and impassive to his existence. He thought back on the last words he had been able to write, and regretted the neglect with which he had penned them. It was too much to bear, but these days, he didn’t have much of a choice. For better or worse, he was condemned to existence.
An image of his wife standing in a bathrobe and dropping her coffee cup shot through him like a bullet, blocking out the room before him. He looked down in his hand and saw the words that he had thought to be crafted painstakingly. Instead he found a hollow tune that provided no more answers than it did questions. Lee’s problems were no closer to being resolved, and in his attempts he had created a set of new ones.
The paper was back in front of him, shouting at him, taunting him to put something down on the page. “He lived just as he had died,” Lee said, letting the words take flight through the room, and letting an angry tremor creep into his voice. A bookshelf caught them and swallowed their prose greedily, adding it to its collection. Every author on the shelf was dead, held captive by last words that they were probably also unsatisfied with.
“The only true shame is that I was unable to see it before I too encountered the very same folly,” Lee once again thought aloud. “For it was my fate to join the ranks of those I thought to be gone from this world too soon.” By the end of the sentence, he was shouting. Memories bandied across the room like they were sprung from a projector.
It was the same dingy hotel room in the French Quarter that he had come to for years. Legends of it being haunted stoked his creative flames, and gave his wife something to speculate about while he remained a dullard. All that was interesting about Lee was tossed into endless pages that were eaten up by the American public for pennies on the neuron. What had initially been content in this lifestyle, had turned sour faster than the leaves turn to autumn.
That night, he had come to the hotel with one thought: end it all, go out on the highest of notes. Hours had passed as he crafted the suicide note. His wife did not bother to look over his shoulder, figuring that she could read it once the paperback came out. After three revisions, he had thought it ready and sent his wife out for a massage. From a secretive drawer in the desk he had pulled a rope, hung it from the ceiling fan, and stood with it around his neck.
Many thoughts had crossed his mind at the moment, but above all else was You’re making a big mistake. He had been about to step down when a voice from behind him shouted “No!”, and in a startled jitter, he fell forward, his neck snapping instantly. The last view he was afforded was of the words he had written on a yellow legal pad sitting on the table.