Many years before, it was decreed. His reign shall be for life.
There was no thunderous gavel swung in proclamation; no drove of citizens to bear witness; not a single banquet or lavish celebration; not one goblet raised in recognition. Unless you counted still another dented sixteen-ounce can of premium beer. What happened was so simple and seemingly insignificant; he was hardly aware even in the wake of the moment’s majesty.
Sitting at a make-shift desk, wedged between the washer and dryer in his overheated laundry room, Edwin found himself nearly paralyzed by despair. He often fought off the creeping hate and self loathing by drowning his higher self in cheap alcohol. During this moment of self-doubt and concern, questioning his ability to provide food and shelter for his wife and new born son, he began to speak words within his mind.
Not a religious man, Edwin found himself praying.
He spoke words the way an alcoholic would pray the morning after a near fatal binge. If you get me through this, Lord, I’ll never have another drink for as long as I live. This lie is dressed with pretty paper and garnished with bows, then offered to God almost daily. Such drivel, wasted words. But Edwin, he spoke from a deeper place. He was honest and sincere. His were the words of a suffering soul, the very type of words which are sometimes heard.
I can’t do it. They don’t come. My thoughts are a fucking clogged toilet, with shit to show for it. And stink. I, I am no good at this. The words I write, the plots, they amount to nothing more than wasted paper. Please. Help me. Anybody, somebody. Help me. Give me something original, give me something authentic to write, something that will be, well, fucking read. And liked and enjoyed. Give me a crumb, a simple idea, that will interest people. I’m not asking for something profound or earth shattering, just something that might captivate enough folks so that I can maybe buy a little night out dinner for Abby, or maybe pay for some shitty diapers. I’ll do anything. Anything at all. I’ll, I’ll offer up my very soul.
Edwin had squeezed his lids closed, salty effluence leaked down his cheeks. His hands were clasped over his keyboard. His nose began to flow.
He opened his eyes and pressed back his hair with one shaky hand as he drained the warming remains of his beverage. He crushed the can within his hand, and tossed it into one of the two waste bins with a crash of aluminum. The second overflowing bin made him think of autumn; its mounded and toppling foliage of squandered leaves were darkened with useless printer ink.
He needed another beer. Maybe he needed something stronger. Edwin stood and looked through the dusty double-hung window toward the river which rain behind his home; two poplars stood before the water like lovers in arms. Spits of rain began to plink upon the tin roof.
Rain, a symbol of fertility, the bringer of life, the purifier, marked a coming. Plink. Tick. The drops increased in size and frequency. The sound seemed to hypnotize him. His gaze unfocused. The smell of rich dirt began to replace the cloy of fabric softener. From somewhere further was the sweet smoky scent of a chimney in need of a thorough scrubbing. In the mud of his mind a story began to emerge. He shambled toward the kitchen; his consciousness unfolded a flourish of colors, textures, and sounds, all plentiful but without form. He rolled the thoughts in his awakening mind as he fished another tall boy from the refrigerator, a dazed and drowning man. Suddenly a coherent thought, and then another. There was a girl going through puberty, her first period, an abusive home, something about telekinetic capabilities. What was it? The plot blossomed organically, scene after scene emerging like daffodils in early Spring.
Edwin S. Kingston’s prayer was answered.
His reign began.
It was April 13, 1996. It was a Saturday. He wrote feverishly the story which was his but not really his own. The words came in full sentences and paragraphs; Edwin thought at times he was merely a transcriptionist. Occasionally he found himself thirsting for another beer. Now and again he absentmindedly snacked. Mostly he wrote. He barely slept for he tossed and turned and Abby, she just maintained a safe distance and kept a watchful eye, fraught with concern.
When it was finished, only five days had passed. Edwin sat in his wooden writing chair, filled with wonder and amazement as he looked at the three hundred-six pages of manuscript stacked loosely upon the dryer. He had no real understanding of just from where this inspiration came, no true recollection of his prayer or his deal struck. He had forgotten.
But there were terms in this bargain. And, there were collections.
There came a knocking at the door.