CHAPTER TWELVE

The female sex – addict (who also happens to be ‘born again’)

Charles was one happy guy.  Not only had he found someone who he hoped would help him, she was very attractive and had her own businesses to boot!

Ah the possibilities! he mused as he let himself into his townhouse.

Being very rich and famous (for the time being, anyway), Charles Craig Curtis lived at 250 Beacon Street.

The Back Bay, as the area was referred to by those who were dazzled by any fancy address in any town, in any country, in any galaxy was full of very expensive Victorian townhouses that cost oodles of money to purchase.

Charles paid through the nose for his place and didn’t mind doing it.

“You overpaid, Dad,” his oldest son said after he bought the place.

“I can afford it,” Charles replied.  “Besides, I intend on dying in this place and then you kids can get overpaid by a new buyer and the process will go on infinitely.”

“You overpaid,” his agent Gary Harte told him.

“My place is triple the size of  what you have in Manhattan, and I got a couple of parking spaces; and you paid more than I did,” Charles pointed out.

“You cannot compare The Big Apple to Beantown,” loathed Gary.

“Yeah, we’re not anywhere close to becoming Sodom and Gomorrah,” Charles said sarcastically, forever finding himself defending his beloved Boston against the hordes of people in the publishing world who lived, ate, drank, fucked, shit, pissed and fought for their beloved New York City twenty-four hours a day for as long as they lived there.

“Jealous once again,” Gary said.

“Manhattan is a first world oasis surrounded by third world neighborhoods. It won’t be long until they take over the whole shall we say enchilada or kebab or curry,” mocked Charles.

“So, how’s the new book coming?” Gary asked.

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And Charles would shrug, because the ‘new book’ only had a title and the same old beginning sentence. It was why Charles Craig Curtis needed to see the extremely attractive Dr. Emma Everly Hancock – who doubled as a successful businesswoman.

///

Charles pulled into his parking spot and went to his mailbox. He was hoping to find royalty checks, invites to speak and read from his novel(s) and lots and lots of fan mail.

The fan mail would keep him from going to his PC to try and write a book that, as he would either text or say to Dr. Hancock (after he had seen her professionally), ‘didn’t want to be born.’

He checked his mailbox, and there was nothing in it but mailers from places he didn’t want to visit or things he didn’t want to buy, and causes he didn’t want to contribute to.

“I wonder how much money they spend on these?” he found himself asking his dog, as he threw the mail box stuffers into the garbage and refilled the dog’s water bowl and gave him a treat.

“Then again, the people who make them must make a lot of money or they wouldn’t mail them out,” he surmised as his dog didn’t debate with him, just wagged his tail and demanded more attention; thus another excuse not to work on his book was born.

So instead of going to his PC to catch up on his world and work on his novel, he took his dog for a walk.

Rather, his golden retriever took him for a walk along Beacon Street.

This only killed 45 minutes, but it did stall his grind.

He texted his children. Again, no reply.  He then went to plan b when it came to no rebuttal texts.

Facebook.

He left a message on each of his three children’s timeline and then spent another 30 minutes scoping out the women of his past.

Another stall, but a stall he loved.

Because Charles Craig Curtis didn’t creep or stalk on Facebook.

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He used it to help find and seduce the women, of his past and present, that he wanted to have sex with, with one caveat — the women couldn’t be married or be in a serious relationship when he found them. After he located and slept with these women, he didn’t care what became of them.

And it was easy — too easy.

And it was fun — too fun.

And it kept him from thinking about his next novel until Gary Harte (as usual, playing super-agent contacted him with an instant message).

Once Gary found out that Charles was killing time on Facebook, he kept his Facebook page on all the time, so he knew when Charles was on. To Gary, it was all about prodding Charles about his next book.

But this time, Gary just wrote ‘Call me ASAP’.

So Charles called him — after all it would kill even more time.

“And Mr. Curtis, are you ready for the trip?” his agent asked him in a haughty tone.

“What’s with the smug tone?” Charles asked back.

“Moi, smug?” Gary said.

“Pulling the French shtick again,” Charles pointed out.

“Because I am French!”

“I thought you were from Colorado?” Charles said.

“Don’t start that again!” Gary warned.

Gary was from the famous Left Bank of Paris. However, except for the ‘e’ at the end of his last name, he shared a first and last name with someone who might have become president of the United States, if he could have kept his dick in his pants. His name was Gary Hart. He was a very popular United States senator from Colorado. Every time people met Charles Craig Curtis’ agent for the first time, they would say, “the Gary Hart?” After a few years and a lot of success in the publishing world and many hours researching Gary Hart on the Internet, Gary Harte would respond to a woman who said “the Gary Hart?” by saying “The Donna Rice?” (Donna Rice was caught sitting on the married senators’ lap, when he was on vacation, during the grueling presidential campaign of 1984). When a male asked him the question “the Gary Hart?” he would respond by asking, “the Walter Mondale?” (Walter Mondale was the beneficiary of Senator Hart’s libido and won the democratic nomination to be

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slaughtered by the incumbent President Ronald Regan in the general election).

“I will be on time, and I will behave. Are you picking me up?”

“I have a handball game I have to squeeze in. Take a cab, and meet me at Murphy’s Law,” Gary said.

“Sounds good, Senator,” Charles said.

“Fuck you. How’s the book coming?”

“I’ll have something to show you when I see you,” lied Charles.

///

He noticed that his phone was almost out of juice and went to the kitchen where he kept the phone’s life line and plugged it in.

He returned to his computer and took a deep breath and yelled out “Who turned in the Frank family?”

Lately, Charles would yell out a question before he started to write. It was a new ritual that he had come up with; because it told him how frustrated he had become at not being able to write (and it killed more time while he on purpose fumbled around with the answer). He had a hope that this yelling would snap him out of it, as they say, but it never did.  He also searched for his reading glasses and then remembered they were on top of his head. He didn’t mind having to use reading glasses. Charles Craig Curtis accepted the fact that aging was part of living. What he hated was; that he was always forgetting them, sitting on them, and losing them.

He was going to try and write three pages in his next novel which he was calling Pooping.  He already got a huge advance (even though he didn’t need it). Gary was excited about it and so it seemed were his publishers (based upon the handsome advance).

After he tried to write, he had to make contact with the woman he was going to spend Saturday night with.  She had already agreed to the date. They had known each other since grammar school.

Charles Craig Curtis had lived in the greater Boston area his whole life. It gave him roots and lots and lots of contacts with the females whose names he never forgot. Name remembering came in very handy during the social network evolution.

He opened up his Word document and stared at what he had already written. There

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was the title: Pooping.  There was the dedication page: To Gary Harte. And then nothing but a stupid joke he had heard when he was a little boy. It read: Two flies were sitting on a dung heap. One fly farts. The other says, “How dare you ruin my meal!”

He stared some more.

Then he heard his phone go off.

It was a text from Dr. Hancock.

“I knew she would contact me before I contacted her,” Charles said to his dog.

“Can we change our appointment?”  the text said.

“That’s it?” he said to his dog, dejectedly.

The dog, whose name was Max (after the character ‘Max Bialystock’ from the film The Producers) wagged his tail and pressed his nose against Charles’ right hand for a pat. Charles obliged and went back to the dreaded beginnings of his novel. He sat down and began his new ritual, yelling out “What happened to David Keith’s acting career?” He looked at what he had written and saw blurry lines. (He had left his reading glasses by his phone). Is that karma?  He wondered, as he put on his glasses and saw that he had a text message from his oldest child — his daughter.

“And, it has a picture attached!” he gleefully told Max, who wagged his tail and pushed his nose into Charles’ hand for another pat.

Charles obliged the dog, and looked at the text. There were no words, just the picture. It was of his daughter’s big belly and he beamed.

“Soon to be a grandfather!” he cried out in joy. He returned to his desk.

He watched for movement on the Word document in front of him. Nothing. Not a thing. He tried to concentrate on the task at hand which was proving so elusive.

How did I start before?  He wondered.

He was just about to attempt an answer when he heard his phone go off again.

It was a missed call from his middle child. There was no voicemail, which didn’t bother him — unless it was an emergency. He called back right away and his son didn’t answer. Charles didn’t leave a voicemail and returned to his none-book.

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“Why don’t people answer their phones when you miss their call and within seconds call them back?!” he yelled out. His ritual complete, he shrugged his shoulders and tried again.

Zilch happened.

So Charles got up and looked at his iPhone to see if it had recharged.  It had.  Just as he was about to start his ritual, he received a text message from his youngest son, who was starting graduate school.

This is what the text said — ‘Dad, please send money!’

“How come they never say how much to send?”

He smiled, because now he could fiddle around and wire some funds into his son account. He looked at the clock on his PC, and that made him smile, too.

It was almost time to call his date for the weekend and he also wanted to pre-sign some of his books.

He took one last look at his novel not in progress and typed this in under his joke: ‘Poop’.

He minimized the book that couldn’t get started to his desk top, and transferred some money into his son’s account. He texted his son that he had done that, and then he remembered he hadn’t gotten back to Dr. Hancock. He texted her — ‘You name the date and time and I will be there.’

He decided to pack for his trip, even though it was a few days off.

“Getting it out of the way,” he announced to his dog Max.

And as he packed his traveling bag, he thought about the woman he was going to spend Saturday evening and Sunday morning with. Someone he had known since kindergarten.

Her name was Anne Snow. Charles and she always felt that they grew up in the same sand box.  When Anne was a toddler, her parents had taken a job as apartment managers for a very large complex in Newton, Massachusetts. The new owners wanted to redo the image of the place; which, of course, would make the property worth more money and get them higher rents.  The owners decided to make the complex family friendly and all sorts of things were done to attract young families: a pool, allowing pets (with a large security deposit), small playgrounds, a common meeting room in every building, and so on.

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Charles family lived on the same floor as Anne’s family. They saw each other a lot and became fast friends.

“Remember when we were five, and we showed each other our privates?” Charles had instant messaged Anne when they started to use the social network.

“Remember how you liked ketchup on French fries and I liked mayonnaise?” she reminded him.

“Recall when we were about thirteen and performed oral sex on each other?” Charles asked her.

“I’m much better at it now,” Anne said, “and I don’t eat French fries or mayonnaise anymore.”

“I hope so, experience counts when it comes to performing oral sex, and not eating French fries dipped in mayo,” Charles said.

///

As Charles packed away his clothes and toiletries, Max jumped up on his bed and lay down and made his moping face. Max knew that Charles was leaving, because when Charles had his suitcase out, pretty soon, Charles was gone and the dog sitter came in. Max liked the dog sitter, but he loved Charles.

And Charles loved Max, especially when it came to the ladies.

Max loved to jump in bed with Charles, whether Charles was sleeping by himself or entertaining a lady friend.  It never bothered Charles if Max watched the two humans fucking. Most of the women didn’t mind either. But if they did, Charles never saw them again — no matter how great of a fuck they were.  There were a few women who didn’t mind letting Max watch, but hated the idea of sharing a bed with Max, even though Charles Craig Curtis had one huge bed. Those women, too, were never seen by Charles again.

He always thought it was funny that the ones that complained about Max didn’t do the complaining until after the sex was over.

One woman, in particular, really pissed him off with her insistence that the next loving-making attempt would be for her to be involved in bestiality!  Charles went ape shit! He demanded she leave and carried her out naked to the front stoop and plunked her down. He then sprinted upstairs and threw her clothes out the bedroom window down to her.

 

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The woman quickly put her clothes on and hailed the first cab that stopped. Charles was watching her from the bedroom window, and just about to take a sip of his wine.   He was thinking about yelling something down to her when he saw her wheel around and toss an object in his direction. It shattered the glass, but missed him. When he cleaned up the broken glass the next morning he also found the object.

“Had to have gotten it from the cabbie,” he said to Max, who yawned. It was a full aluminum bottle of an energy drink wrapped inside a brown paper bag that was called ‘Doggie Style’. Charles laughed, and put the bottle in his recyclable bin.

“The worst part of it,” he later told his agent, “was that she was one of the best lays he had ever had in the doggie style position!”

“That’s great,” said his bored — with another Charles Craig Curtis’ sex story — agent. “Again, how is the new book coming?”

///

Friday came, and the only part of air travel that Charles dreaded raised its ugly head and made him and other passengers crabby — the Airport Nazis.

“It’s bad enough that the airport has more cops than some crime ridden sections of the inner city, but the pat down, and the stare down by Big Brother’s ground troops are getting way out of hand,” Charles texted to Emma, while he waited impatiently in line and responded to her text (finally) about the new date for his first appointment.

“Drive next time,” she texted back.

I should, he thought as he texted her back — ‘that day and time works’.

He didn’t get a response, and it annoyed him — but not as much as all the precious time that he and many others were being forced to eat up while they slogged through the airport lines and waited to board their planes. Only then to be hit with exorbitant carry-on fees and more wait while they sat on the tarmac for the signal to take off. Of course, there would be the mandatory fly over LaGuardia Airport for thirty minutes and the 45 minute wait for the luggage.

“I should have driven,” he said to an older man who was standing next to him, waiting for his luggage, after everything had happened just as Charles had predicted.

“Sure kid. Coming from Boston you only have to deal with traffic in Boston, traffic in Hartford, traffic in Danbury, traffic in Westchester County, and that’s all before you hit the real traffic of New York. Did I mention tolls?  How about the price of gas?  How about the price of parking in New York?” the older man said.

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“Next time, stay at home. Boston is a much nicer place than New York,” the older man’s friend chimed in.

“Why are you two here then?” Charles asked.

“There’s more to do here,” they both said as they spotted their luggage and quickly hurried off.

Charles grabbed his bags and then went to hail a cab.

Another annoyance for Charles Craig Curtis awaited.

He didn’t mind getting into the line, for it always moved fairly quickly. Charles honestly believed that there were more Yellow Cabs in New York City, than there were excuses for why Washington D.C. didn’t work.

He was annoyed by the foreigners. He would joke to anyone that didn’t live in New York City that all were assassins for Allah waiting to be unleashed into Manhattan with their cabs jam-packed with explosives.

When he once told Gary about this, Gary responded about the foreigners who were cab drivers in Boston.

“Big difference,” Charles said.

“What, because it’s Boston?” Gary responded sarcastically.

“Not at all. Boston cabbies are all from Nigeria.”

“Nigeria has a huge Muslim population,” Gary Harte pointed out.

Charles started lying about the book that he wasn’t writing.  He was always very bad in geography, religion, and politics (but not always in that order). When he got caught with his pants down, as they say, he would change the subject to his already published works, or in this case; lying about his lack of writing.

It didn’t take 9-11 to spook Charles Craig Curtis with the threats of Muslim terrorists. His mother was a fanatic about warning Charles, and anyone who would listen to her, about how and why Muslims wanted to destroy America and Israel.

Charles’ mother was Jewish and his father was Italian.

Charles real name was JI Bernard Giuseppe.

The JI stood for ‘Jewish and Italian.’

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When he was a struggling novelist finding his voice (and audience) his pen name was JI Bernard.

When he met Gary Harte, Gary had his name legally changed to Charles Craig Curtis.

Gary Harte was a huge fan of the golden years of Hollywood in the 1950’s and thought that the former JI Bernard looked exactly like the movie star Tony Curtis, except hat JI had blond curly hair and light blue eyes, which some people said when the light hit them right, turned green.

Gary added that the name Charles Craig Curtis rolled off the tongue extremely easily, because of each name starting with the letter c.

“You’re the agent,” Charles replied when Gary asked him if he liked the name.

“Charles Craig Curtis will sell more books than JI Bernard.”

Gary Harte turned out to be a damn fine soothsayer.

JI Bernard Giuseppe/JI Bernard/Charles Craig Curtis was a very good looking man. He knew it, and it bothered most men and some women that he was so damn modest about it.

This, Charles knew, got him laid more.

So, why change? (as his mother used to ask him).

Especially if it is working! (as his father would add).

“What arguments you must have been in,” Gary said to him.

“Who could hear anything over the shouting?” Charles said. “But, then again; the food was so good I didn’t care about the yelling.”

This was true. Charles’ parents were both great cooks. His mother worked in a Jewish deli in Brookline. His father worked in an Italian restaurant on Boston’s North End.

They were both atheists, and they met at an anti-Joe McCarthy rally in the 1950’s. They were married in a few weeks.

Charles mother was a rabid anti-Muslim, though, and everyone thought she was biased because of her Jewishness.

That was until 9-11 happened.

 

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Then, people listened a lot closer to her.

His father was a rabid anti-fascist, though, and everyone thought he was biased because he had lost a lot of relatives to Mussolini’s purges, and Charles’ father screamed at anything he thought was fascist.

That was until the Patriot Act was enacted by the American Congress and signed into law by the president of the United States.

The Patriot Act was intended to protect Americans from both foreign and domestic terrorists by letting the authorities spy on Americans with greater ease, because once enacted — Americans gave up their civil liberties to the authorities in order to feel warm and safe in their homes. In reality, their civil liberties were being destroyed.

Then, people started to listen to him.

They had both died a few years ago, and Charles tried to think of them every day, especially when he was in a cab in New York City and the cab driver looked like a middle-east terrorist, straight out of Hollywood Central Casting, for the latest anti-Muslim movie being produced and had a name that Charles couldn’t even guess to pronounce.

“To Murphy’s Law,” Charles said as he entered the cab.

“Is that an Irish bar?” the cab driver asked Charles in a very thick middle-eastern accent. The cab driver wasn’t being sarcastic; he was trying to make conversation.

“No, it’s a Jewish bar,” Charles answered very sarcastically, hoping that the word ‘Jewish’ offended the would be destroyer of innocents.

“Funny, it doesn’t sound Jewish,” the cabbie said just as sarcastically, as he sped out of the airport, and Charles found himself stuck in traffic.

He suddenly found the desire to open up a texting conversation with Dr. Hancock. He texted her — ‘If I drove, I would still be stuck on Storrow drive’.

He didn’t get a response.

She’s going to be a tough one to solve, he thought. Wait a minute; I want her to solve me. I have to put aside my initial desire for her and let her try to fix me. If she fails, oh the possibilities! he mused. He broke out into a huge grin and looked at his phone. It was running out of juice, and he asked the cabbie if he had a phone charger, that plugged into the lighter — that wasn’t allowed to be used as a lighter for anyone thinking about using it to smoke a cigarette, cigar or pipe.

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“You from Beantown?” the middle-eastern man asked Charles.

Now people from Boston hate being asked this question, especially from anyone who resides in the greater New York City metropolitan area.

Charles hated it even more, because at this very moment he thought the cab he was in was going to drive into the Mid-Town Tunnel and be detonated and he would have the misfortune of being blown to smithereens.  Charles Craig Curtis dreaded that he would be whisked to Muslim Heaven and be forced to become a eunuch in the cabbie’s 77 virgin harem.

“You say something?” Charles said in a tone that told the driver to not talk to him and to get to the destination pronto, which to Charles surprise; the present and future terrorist did. This got the cabbie a better than usual tip from the man who was brought up to not trust nor like Muslims.

As the cab drove off, Charles could have sworn that the driver flipped him off.

“Damn, I just contributed to plastic explosives!” he yelled out on the sidewalk.

“You what?” his agent said as he, too, was just arriving by foot.

“How did the game go?” Charles asked Gary.

“I won,” Gary said modestly.

“You always win,” Charles pointed out.

“So I do,” Gary said with a shrug.

“Let’s eat. I’m starved.

Murphy’s Law was the quintessential New York City Irish Pub.

That’s why Charles liked it.  Obviously, he had eaten a lot of Jewish and Italian food over the years. And in Boston, it seemed when he wasn’t dining on the aforementioned, it was then seafood. Even though Boston had a huge Irish population, Charles didn’t venture much into those communities where there would be Irish pubs on every street corner.  To Charles, the sections of the city that were all Irish were as tough as they have been portrayed in the movies and books of late. He would leave the Irish pubs in the greater Boston area to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. When Charles wanted to eat Irish cuisine, he waited for a trip to New York City and Murphy’s Law (he also adored the name).  Gary Harte had been in a lot of Irish pubs all over the world. He, too, liked Murphy’s and had made the reservations.

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“Reservations for two — Gary Harte,” he told the hostess, and all heads, located at the front, turned to get a glimpse of the famous ex-senator and ex-blue-jeans model, Donna Rice.

Charles noticed the would be celebrity gawkers and spoke up “Not that Gary Hart. This, Gary Harte, is the best agent in the world!” he said, as he hugged his agent.

Gary blushed and had to get even/wanted to get even with Charles.

“And, this is my famous client, Charles Craig Curtis, the great author of Domestically Wild!”

Now, it was Charles’ turn to blush. He didn’t want to talk to a bar crowd about his book, and he had already scoped out the people around the bar, and none of the women were worth a second look unless he had beer goggles on. He went on the offensive.

“Drinks on me!” he cried out, as he walked over to the bar and set up a tab with the bartender. Everyone congratulated him, and he and Gary, both, did a shot with all his new best friends.

Charles and Gary followed the hostess to the dining room.

“Good move,” Gary said.

“The best defense is always a great offense. That, and it isn’t that crowded.”

“I didn’t know you were into clichés?” Gary said.

“I only care about clichés when they come in handy,” Charles said.

“Can I steal that?” Gary asked and then yawned.

“Am I boring you?” Charles said, astonished.

“No. I’m tired from playing seven games of handball. I need to catch a second wind.  By the way, don’t fuck up at the signing. Who are you going out with after?” Gary asked.

“An oldie but a goodie,” Charles said with a grin.

“Let’s order,” Gary said.

“Changing the subject?”

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“I told you, I just played seven games of handball –I’m starving,” Gary said as he waved the waitress over and ordered. Charles had the same as Gary and ordered a bottle of house Merlot.

“Well, do you have something for me?” Gary said, after their glasses had been filled.

“Shit!  I left it in the cab!” Charles lied.

“Too busy trying to prove to yourself that your cabbie is a terrorist?” Gary guessed.

“What do you mean is?” Charles said with a smile, knowing he had stalled once again.

“Tell me you have it saved,” Gary hoped.

“Of course. It’s 2014. I’m somewhat tech savvy,” Charles said sarcastically. “Are you?”

“Nope! Too successful as an agent. I have three assistants who do all that for me. I still spend the bulk of my time on good old landlines trying to pitch authors and books to publishers,” Gary said as he took a sip. “That reminds me, no texting or phone calls while we talk.”

“I have no problem with that. It’s only proper etiquette,” Charles said as he turned off his phone, and Charles did likewise.

“Many people have problems with phone etiquette and not just New Yorkers,” Gary said.

“We agree,” Charles said.

“Tell me about it,” Gary egged on.

“Well, I really can’t stand when I’m in line at the bank and the person in front of me is gabbing away on the phone and doesn’t hear the teller call them over,” Charles said.

Gary Harte rolled his eyes.

“You heard this bitching before?” Charles asked his agent, because he saw his agent’s eyes roll.

Your book! Not cell phone abuse in public!” his agent screamed.

“It’s just what you would want from me,” Charles lied.

“Good. More details,” urged Gary.

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“It’s comic, humorous, full of affection, sensitive, has a desire to point the readers in the right direction and is a canary in the coalmine all in one,” Charles said, all the time  wondering I hope he believes those whoppers, because I sure don’t.

“You sound like a bloody reviewer,” Gary said as he reached for the bottle.

“Good idea, Gary,” complimented Charles, as he held out his glass for a refill.

Gary was just about to prod Charles when their dinner arrived.

Saved again, Charles mused.

They ate in silence. One reason was that Gary was starving.  Another reason was that Charles was thinking of ways to throw his agent off track.

When Charles could see that Gary was just about done, he pounced with what he thought would do the trick.  “How come all the book signings you get for me are on Saturdays?”

“Who wants to do anything but end the work week and party on a Friday?” Gary pointed out.  “I mean, look at us. Look around and see how packed this place is.”

Charles did glance around, and had to admit that the place was hopping.

“And it isn’t because we’re in Manhattan. Everywhere around the world, people are celebrating the end of their week and the beginning of their 48 hours of magic,” Gary said.

“It’s not a lot of fun for the people who have to work those 48 hours,” Charles said.

“Want to place a bet?” Gary asked.

“Why not? But how are you going to get the answer?” Charles asked.

“One-hundred dollars bet — watch and listen,” Gary said as he signaled to the waitress.  Charles nodded that the bet das on, as they say.

She came over to the table, and Gary asked her did she mind working weekends?

“We have fights over the weekend shifts, especially during football season,” she said.

“Why is that?” Gary asked.

“The money is fabulous, and it costs a lot to live in this city,” she said, as she cleared their tables of their finished meal.

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“Where’s my hundred dollars?” Gary demanded.

Charles reached into his pocket, hoping that Gary wouldn’t want to collect, thinking about something to say to counteract what the waitress had just told them.

Gary demanded payment, because he felt that Charles was being evasive about his new book and wanted to see some progress as quickly as possible. He gave Charles a memorandum on the book signing and begged off about more partying. The big portion of rich food, not to mention the wine on top of the games of handball, had made him very sleepy.

“See you tomorrow,” Gary said, as he kissed Charles on his left and then his right cheek. Charles didn’t reciprocate, because he wasn’t one of those touchy feely types, unless it was a female’s naked body he was touching and feeling. Charles preferred, to give and receive, an old fashioned hardy hand clasp, which he now did with his agent.

“By the way,” Charles said meekly, “thanks for putting up with me.”

“Charles Craig Curtis is worth a lot to me,” Gary said with a wave. “By the way, don’t fuck up at the signing.”

///

Charles decided to walk to his hotel. He had enough terrorist encounters for the day.

One thing Charles loved, about being a rich and famous author, was that he could check in anytime to the hotels that Gary’s secretary booked for him, especially in Manhattan.  When he was a nobody, he couldn’t check in late, and those hotels were very cheap.

And Charles always sent Gary’s secretary a great holiday gift and always tipped the people at the hotel generously, which was another reason the hotel rooms were always waiting for him, no matter what time he checked in.

“The more you tip, the more they remember you, and the better service you receive” he told one of his children, when they had complained about him over tipping.

After checking in, he got his room key that looked like a credit card, but was still called a ‘key’. He hung up his clothing bag and put his toiletries away and went to the little liquor cabinet/refrigerator and found a nice bottle of Pinot Noir.  He poured himself a big glass and took out his phone.

“Son of a bitch!” he shouted.

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He had never turned it back on and felt lost.

“Amazing how high tech owns us,” he said during the question and answer session, after his book signing and reading was over, when a member of the audience asked him whether he wrote by hand or used a computer.

The answer was really both, but the question allowed him to go into what he thought were the good, the bad, and the ugly, as they say, about high technology in the year 2014.

“Shit!” he yelled, as he turned the device on.

“Fuck!” he screamed, as the phone powered up, and he thought he saw that he had at least six missed calls, and nine missed texts. Or maybe it was more?  He couldn’t tell, because he had forgot to slip his reading glasses on when he first glanced at his iPhone and this made him cuss.

“Shit! Fuck!” he screamed as, he went looking for his reading glasses. He found them in his briefcase that also had a few signed copies of his not so famous books — just in case, someone asked for one. He had to take them with him to these events, because none of the bookstores he ever attended for signings of his most successful work, ever had his other novels on hand.

And that always helped keep him humble. Although, he did prod Gary right after the success of Domestically Wild to see if other publishing houses would resurrect his previous works.

The answer was no different than when he was unknown.

No.

Hollywood took notice, and threw some options, on his earlier stuff, his way. He had seen very little money and even less movement on the projects. Gary thought that once the movies were made, his earlier works sales would triple.

“More like a bunt single,” Charles said with a sigh, when he opened up his royalty check for those earlier works.

“At least it wasn’t an out,” Gary told him, after Charles scanned and then emailed the image of the check.

When Domestically Wild was taken on by Spielberg, one of Sir Steven’s toadies was sent to pick-up the signed contract and inform Charles and Gary on one thing in person.

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“You wrote a masterpiece Mr. Curtis, but you are a novelist, not a screenwriter. That is someone else’s job. Don’t bug us about peaking at the script. Remember whose name is going to appear after yours on the big screen and how many more books you will sell. By the way, I would have never guessed that a former United States Senator would be an agent, but I guess you would be a formidable negotiator.”

Charles looked at Gary, who looked right back at Charles.

“No problem,” Charles said humbly.

“Thank you for the opportunity,” Gary said, ignoring the remark about ex-Senator Gary Hart.

///

Charles put on his glasses and grabbed the hotel stationary to write himself a note to buy a chain to attach to both ends of his reading glasses so the damn things would be hanging in front of him all the time.

But what type of chain should I buy? He mused.

Now that Charles had a lot of money, he had the luxury to never think real hard before he bought something. He cherished this, and it made him feel guilty; but not that guilty.

On second thought… screw the chain, I’ll just break it or lose it. The glasses stay on top of my head, he opined to himself.

The guilty feeling did help him, because he wanted to maintain an image of humility. And the best way to do that, was not to be an upstart with his new found wealth and fame.

“Let others waddle in that stream,” he told Gary.

“Look Charles, I hate to break this to you, but being ostentatious is not your style… getting laid is,” Gary said.

“And humbly accepting my fame and fortune goes a long way to achieving that goal,” Charles said.

And, not only did his humbleness help him score with a lot of women; it helped him when he did a signing. It helped him when he was recognized in public. It helped him in the publishing world. It helped him with the media. It helped him with just about everyone, everywhere, every time.

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“Why should I toot my bugle?” Charles once answered, when asked at a book signing about why he didn’t focus on his fame and instead, focused on what it was like to be rejected so many times before he made it.

Everyone at the signing liked him that much more.

“The truth of the matter is, he didn’t have to toot his own bugle. Gary Harte and the publishers took care of that.

The critics, the media, and the reviewers all seemed totally flabbergasted that Charles Craig Curtis wasn’t tossing his celebrity status all over. And because he wasn’t, Charles Craig Curtis had the aforementioned right where he wanted them.

The critics, the media, and the reviewers all thought Charles was Charles because he was smarter than they were, and this scared them, so they pacified, rather than anger Charles.

And his fan base loved it!

Fellow authors were either in awe of his ability to take anything and everything in stride, or they thumbed their noses at his ‘superior’ attitude.

Charles let it all roll off him.

One of the reasons Charles Craig Curtis loved Murphy’s Law in New York City, was he could be just a regular customer out for a meal and some drinks.

When he had made it, and came to New York City to be introduced to the rich and powerful, who ran the main stream publishing empire, they had taken him to the most posh restaurant in town. There were no regular customers at this place. Oh no, it was the watering hole and food trough where people came to be seen and talked about.

The entourage Charles was with kept introducing him and whispering to each other. Charles (on orders from Gary, who wasn’t there) just smiled, nodded, and shook hands. (He also made sure his wine glass was never empty).

At one point a busboy somehow got to the table and flagged Charles’s attention. Charles motioned to the young man to come over to the table. The waiter and manager were not happy. Neither were the people who had taken Charles to the place.

Charles saw what was going on and could read people’s facial expressions. He moved to see what the busboy wanted.

 

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He produced a copy of Domestically Wild, and asked Charles to sign it for his little brother who was very sick in the hospital.

After asking for a pen, which no one in the publishing world at his table could produce, Charles walked with the young man to the bar, (bartenders always have a pen or pencil near) and inscribed the book as the busboy dictated.

It was over rather quickly, and when Charles returned to the table, he was badgered with comments about ‘how rude of that so and so’ or ‘famous authors should never be treated that way’ he even heard someone say ‘I would never give an autograph of my book. It cheapens it’.

“I’ am honored that I was asked for my autograph. I will sign a book that I have written, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. It’s people like that young man who makes my day. His little brother was entertained by my book. I consider myself lucky,” Charles said, as he took a sip from his glass of wine and looked around the table.

“I would have given my commission to see those faces,” Gary later said.

A few weeks later, Gary Harte went back to that restaurant with a boxful of children’s novels from his clients to give to the busboy. He was told that the busboy had been ‘let go’. Gary donated the books to the first church he came across on his walk back to his office. When he told Charles, Charles responded by telling him that he would never go back to that place, or a place like that, or out with those people, or anyone else like that.

“They didn’t like your modesty,” Gary told him.

“Fuck them,” Charles said. “You take care of that end of our business from now on. Let them think I am the new Harper Lee.” Harper Lee was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and after its initial success, she rarely did anything in public if she did anything at all.

At times, Charles wondered if Harper had been suffering from writers block like his, because as far as he knew, she never wrote another word.

“Then again, she didn’t have to,” Charles said out loud.

///

Now with his glasses on, he checked the time.

“Too late to call anyone. Wonder what my texts say?” he said to the wine glass that was empty. He refilled it.

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Most of the texts were mindless gibberish from friends that came and went like the wind.

There were a few from his old friends from high school and college that were all about fun things from their collective past and he chuckled at not only the texts but the memories.

How I love reconnecting with these guys! He thought.

This was a very true statement. Charles Craig Curtis would be texting with these past friends no matter how successful or how unsuccessful he was. How he loved getting random texts or reading Facebook posts from old friends and learning about the blank areas that all their lives were from the time they graduated high school or college (depending upon the friend) to the present.

Charles spent way too much time on Facebook.

He spent way too much time emailing.

He spent way too much time instant messaging.

“That’s what happens when one suffers from writer’s block,” he would say to himself.

He got a text from Anne that said ‘don’t drink b 4 u c me’.

How Charles Craig Curtis hated texting abbreviations!  However, he knew that abbreviated writing was the future, and the future was now, as they say. He was going to do his best to stay in the past.

“I may suck at getting my next novel out, but I write full words when I text!” he yelled at the now half full wine glass.

But he also smiled, because he knew he was in for a great fuckfest after his book signing/reading.

He looked at his last text from his son. It read: ‘my mother is so cheap’.

“A classic understatement,” he said sarcastically and then texted his son just that.

He got a response.

“Guess what my mother made me for dinner?” the response read.

He said cheap, so it must be some slop from a fast food restaurant, he thought.

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“Then again, think about how McDonald’s has reinvented itself,” he pointed out to the now empty glass of wine.  He needed to think about his response and get another glass of wine before he answered his son’s question.

He poured himself a big glass, took a sip, and responded to his son’s text as honestly as he could.

“I don’t know. You tell me,” he texted.

“She made me a bowl of spaghetti,” came the reply text.

“Spaghetti isn’t that cheap,” Charles wrote back.

“It is when my mother makes me a bowl, and drops it off on my front stoop inside a brown paper bag” his son wrote to him.

Charles Craig Curtis spit out the wine that was in his mouth. He cleaned up the mess and texted “Maybe it was from the North End –BoomPa’s old place or a place near Safta’s old haunt. North End is not cheap pasta and tastes damn good.”

BoomPa was what Charles’ father had his grandchildren call him while he was alive.

Safta is what Charles’ mother had her grandchildren call her while she was alive.

Safta is Hebrew for grandmother.

BoomPa was something from an old Jimmy Stewart movie. Charles’ father adored Jimmy Stewart, and the nickname.

Then I wouldn’t be complaining at all! It was one of her concoctions’’, the text read.

This would not only be a cheap meal, but a bad deal, Charles mused as he thought back on his ex-wife’s terrible cooking.

The only decent meal she could cook was something that she termed ‘chicken mush’.

It was basically a white cream sauce spread over chopped up boneless chicken breasts with white rice.

Charles and the kids liked it, because everything else she cooked was so bad.

“Why did you marry someone who can’t find her way around in the kitchen?” his mother asked him, after one of his ex-wife’s worst meals.

“I didn’t marry her for her cooking skills,” replied Charles. “Besides, who needs a wife that can cook, when I have the two best cooks in the world for parents?”

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This was very true. Charles Craig Curtis married his first wife, because she loved fucking, not cooking.

Unfortunately, as the marriage went on (like many marriages) the great fucking stopped, and the great arguing began.

It was their children, and their own warped sense of family that kept them together.

And now, that Charles had paid her off handsomely — because he could afford to — he tried very hard to make up for his guilt with his success by lavishing his children all the time.

They didn’t mind and neither did he.

Another dish, which was named by the son who he was now texting with, had to do with Charles’ ex-wife trying her hand at making brownies.

His ex-wife was in one of her rare ‘I want to please my husband moods’ days and cooked the one dish that they all liked – – ‘chicken mush’. This time she attempted to create a dessert for all to enjoy, and beg her to make it again while they talked non-stop about her new dish.

And talk about it, they did.

She made brownies from scratch, and not only did they taste like shit, Charles’s daughter correctly called the dessert what it looked like ‘kitty–litter brownies’.

Then, one summer, the ex-Mrs. Bernard got bold. She wanted to make all natural lemonade.

To her credit, she went to the library, and did some research, and went to the local grocery to purchase the ingredients. She made it and served it to her husband and three children one hot summer day.

They all spit it out.

“You trying to poison us!” Charles screamed.

“I thought it tasted great,” was her response.

“If you like the taste of piss,” the son, that Charles was texting with, said after he spat it out.

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So, Charles repeated some of the crummy meals from the past, to his son via texts and received nothing but LOL in returns.  LOL was one of the aforementioned popular texting abbreviations that Charles didn’t like, but knew was here to stay. Charles had to admit it was better than the word ‘ha’, which others used when they were amused by received text. He also knew with the advent of Tweeter and it’s no more than 140 characters – the younger or “tweet” generation (as Gary referred to them) attention span would never be more than 140 symbols.

“What do you expect from hash slingers?” Charles asked him.  Charles wasn’t alluding to waiters or waitresses that worked in cheap restaurants.  He meant the phrase as a dig at the word or unspaced phrase that was prefixed with the number sign that was so popular in Tweeter land.

Charles bid his son a good night, finished his last glass of wine, and passed out.

It was his favorite way of falling asleep since he had become rich, famous, and single.

///

Most of the time when he remembered dreaming, he couldn’t remember what he actually dreamt. This time it was different, and it woke him up and got him writing. He thought, since he had dreamed about a young boy pooping in his pants, it was a sign that his writer’s block was disappearing.

This is what Charles Craig Curtis dreamed.

He was young boy, no more than 10 years of age, walking alone in a big toy store.  He had no money, and he just wanted to look at the toys, and have a look at the things that he wanted to own, but couldn’t afford. Charles was the only one in the store, and it was very bright inside and outside the store. He was able to touch and hold and cuddle any toy that he could reach.  He, also, had to go to the bathroom real bad!  But the aisles were so long, and the shelves so high and all packed with toys that he could play with. He thought he could hold it in, until he found his favorite toys– models.

The restroom can wait, he mused as he smiled at all the boxes of models on all the shelves.

A model was a plastic replica of a ship, car, tank, plane, etc. Charles loved putting them together as a young boy.

Now, he was able to not only look at hundreds of models, but could open the box and hold the pieces.  He quickly glanced around, looking for the glue to assemble the plastic parts, and kept ignoring the pains in his stomach and his bladder.

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He couldn’t see any glue, so he went looking for it. He had to assemble a model!

After walking for what seemed miles, he found some glue. He was reaching up to get it when his bladder emptied.

Shit and piss kept coming out of him until both his pants legs were filled.

Somehow, he army crawled out of the store to his home.  Like the store, his home was empty of other living souls. But there, he found a big note, written on the back of an old menu from one of his parent’s restaurant hanging from a string attached to the ceiling fixture as soon as he dragged himself into the house. It read: ‘Be home at 3:30’.  Charles checked the clock on the wall. He had 45 minutes before his parents came home.  He slogged his way to the bathroom, because he had an idea.

Since one flushed poop and pee down the toilet, why not flush his entire pair of pants down the toilet, wash up, and then clean up the kitchen floor of any telltale trail and then spray the aerosol?

So that is what he tried to do.

When he took off his pants, he couldn’t believe how much waste was being held in them.

And the smell!  He gagged so many times; he couldn’t believe he wasn’t throwing up.

He also decided that his underwear had to be flushed down the toilet, too. He couldn’t stand looking at the poop and pee stains on his legs, so he took a wash cloth, made it wet, put some soap on it, and washed his legs and feet.  He would worry about his shirt, socks, and shoes after the experiment that better work with his underpants.

He started with his very thin white underwear, which was now a gory color of brown and yellow.

It went down rather easily, and he was impressed with his ingenuity.

Now his blue jeans were going to be a larger problem. He debated with himself about starting with the waist or the pants leg. He decided on the leg. He stuffed the left leg of the pants into the bottom of the bowl and flushed. He thought that once the flush got ahold of the leg it would pull the entire poop and pee stained pants down the toilet into the sewer system.

So was Charles faith in the strength of the toilet, and all that it was connected too.

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The toilet and the flush were strong, but not that strong. The underwear had decided to make a return visit and the toilet exploded, and, once again, Charles was littered with poop, pee, water and other nasty items from the sewer system. To make matters worse, he could hear his parents coming home and yelling about what was on the kitchen floor and what stunk so badly?  Then he heard the pounding on the bathroom door — and he woke up.

“What a crappy dream!” he yelled out, as he searched for his reading glasses so he could see what time it was. For some reason this made him remember not to buy a chain for the reading glasses, which made him think that when his ex-wife’s eyes go, being so cheap, she would just get an old shoelace to use as a chain for her reading glasses. This made him smile, but when he looked at the clock, he frowned. It was 3:30am.

The dead of night, he mused as he lay back on the bed and thought about his dream.

Maybe it was a sign to use in my book? Can I use it in my book? Maybe parts of it? He thought as he got up, went to the bathroom, and turned on the shower. He was going to take a cold shower and get some writing down, somehow using the dream that he couldn’t believe that he was remembering so vividly as a starting point.

When he came out of the shower, he started chuckling that if he could somehow work the scene of the young boy flushing just his underwear down the toilet –and it works, how many kids would actually try to do just that in real life?

“The money I should get from all the plumbers who will be called on for the repairs!” he yelled in the bathroom as he finished drying himself off.

He went to the desk and got out some paper and a pen and yelled out his ritual, hoping that this was the beginning of breaking the writer’s block he was suffering from.

“Why was Tiger Woods so damn cheap when it came to taking care of his sluts!?” he cried out.

Who am I kidding?  He thought. I can’t write at this hour without some strong coffee.

“I can’t call room service. I guess I could go walk a few blocks and find a place that serves strong coffee. After all, this city never sleeps,” he said as he dressed.

And, that is what Charles Craig Curtis did. He walked around a few blocks, and to his surprise only found bars open and no coffee shops. Oh, there were coffee shops, but they didn’t open until 5:30 in the morning, according to the signs on their doors.

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Charles wasn’t going into a bar to order coffee, so he went back to his room and flopped on his bed wondering, was three thirty in the morning considered early in the morning or late at night, until… he fell asleep.

After all, he had a book signing and a fuck fest lined up, and he needed his rest.

He then knew with a good dream to work from, and nothing happening but more excuses; his writer’s block was getting worse… if that was possible.

///

Charles slept until high noon and felt great when he woke up. He put on his glasses, looked at his phone, saw that no calamity had happened to those whom he loved and cared about… just some more texts and no calls. He decided to text Dr. Hancock, because he was worried that he was way in over his head in regard to his writer’s block. This is what he texted her: “Can I get therapy via texts, until I see you in person?”

He then went to the hotel’s gym and had put himself through a spirited workout.

He then ate a hearty brunch and returned to his room to make some calls, texts, and prepare for the book signing.  It was now two in the afternoon. He wasn’t due at the book store until five-thirty.

He laid out the clothes he was going to wear. Gary called this outfit his ‘author’s suit’.  Black shoes that he shined with Vaseline (his mother taught him how to do that, but his dad wanted him to always go to a shoe shine stand… problem was, the shoe shine stands in the greater Boston area had gone the way of the Smith-Corona). Having Vaseline around had other uses, Charles would muse.

“I think we have a cobbler in our family tree,” Charles’ dad remarked once.

All Italians have one of those,” his mother said.

“And all Jewish families have a peddler,” his father shot back.

“Peddlers and cobblers… one in the same,” his mother said — getting the last word in (what Jewish mother doesn’t?).

Charles wore argyle socks (Gary’s influence), and they had to fit snug around his calves. The only thing in fashion that he hated more than saggy socks, were men who wore no socks when they had shoes on.

Not that Charles Craig Curtis was in any way a fashion Nazi or a fashion maven.

 

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He liked what he liked and didn’t like what he didn’t like.

His ‘author’s suite’ was completed by wearing chino pants, and a white button down shirt open at the neck, over a white beater undershirt.  The catch on his shirt was that his sleeves had padded elbows as opposed to college professors who wore suit coats with padded elbows.  Charles completed his attire with a blue blazer with a white handkerchief tucked perfectly in the upper left breast pocket.

Now, when Charles wasn’t at a public gathering, his dress was never better than comfortable and always casual.

“Gym clothes all day until you’re ready to go out and then cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a Hawaiian shirt if the weather is warm, and repeat the boots, blue jeans, and delete the Hawaiian shirt for a turtle neck,” his youngest son always predicted.

“What’s wrong with that?” Charles asked.

“Everything,” replied his son.

“It’s me. You dress your way and I’ll dress mine. Who wants to spend a lot of money on things that stay in bureaus and closets anyway?” Charles said.

“When you got it… spend it!” his son replied.

“I got better things to spend money on,” Charles said.

Once he had his outfit all layed out on the bed, he went to check his phone. He quickly found his reading glasses and smiled that he did.  There was a response from Dr. Hancock. It read: “We will discuss your idea DURING our first session.”

“Figures,” Charles said, as he checked the remainder of his texts.

There was nothing but well wishes from everyone whom he loved and liked. Only Gary said anything that could be taken as a negative.

“Don’t fuck up!” he texted.

It was time to go. Charles always liked being early to his public events.

“Only snots keep their fans waiting and waiting and waiting,” Charles once told Gary.

This was another policy that endeared Charles to fans and bookstore managers and owners alike.

But Charles had another reason why he arrived early.

 

127

He liked checking out the women.

He called down to the desk to call him a cab and muttered, under his breath, the whole elevator ride down about dealing with the cabbie/terrorist that awaited him.

This time he was pleasantly surprised.

The cab driver wasn’t an Arab! He didn’t look like a Paki. He wasn’t Indian. He certainly wasn’t African, but he was a foreigner and he was eating a terrific looking and smelling Gyro.

“That Gyro smells delicious,” Charles said, not only breaking the ice, but happy he wasn’t in an explosive laden cab driven by someone named Mohammed unless…  this guy was a disguise expert or the terrorist wanted  the bomb rigged cab to be driven by someone who wouldn’t arise suspicion.

Charles’ view of the terror filled world, which we now all live in, was interrupted by the cabbie asking him a question.

“Want one?” he said, as he held up a tinfoil wrapped package.  “They are the best fucking gyros in the world and homemade. My wife makes ‘em,” he bragged.

“No thanks, I’m trying to quit,” Charles said sarcastically.

“Good, more for me. Like I need it,” he said, as he thrust his large belly upwards so Charles could see that his cab driver was plump and rotund at the same time.

“I detect an accent that I am not familiar with when driving in cabs in Manhattan,” Charles said politely (and most happily)

“Ah, I’m a linguist who, no doubt, secretly works for NSA!” the cabbie shouted. He wanted to show Charles that he could be just as sarcastic. “By the way, you have an accent, too.”

“Bahhstaaan,” Charles said, exaggerating how he knew Bostonians sounded to everyone who lived outside of Route 128.

“I thought so. I would like to go there someday. But that day will have to wait. I have to make a lot of money to send for the rest of my family to join me here in Sodom and Gomorrah, open up a restaurant, obtain a few more cabs, and then presto — I’ll be on easy street,” the cabbie said.

“America rewards ambition,” Charles said. After all, he of all people could attest to that.

128

“Correction, Sir. Capitalism rewards ambition. I know. I am from Greece. Ambition is not rewarded there, it is taxed. I hear America taxes ambition, too. But real capitalism rewards it by letting people make money and to keep what they have made.”

A Greek cabbie, I can’t wait to tell everyone, Charles thought.

“What’s your name?” Charles asked the driver.

“Mandria Papadopoulos,” the man said proudly.

“Charles Craig Curtis,” Charles said.

“The famous writer?” Mandria said.

“You have heard of me, or should I say, read me?” Charles said.

“My children loved your book.  Everyone in the family did.”

“Wow,” replied Charles, who dug out two $100 bills that he was going to tip Mr. Papadopoulos with.

The cab came to a red light, and the cabbie rolled down his window and started shouting out to the people on the sidewalk that his fare was famous.

“Fuck off,” came one reply.

“Shut up,” came another.

“Who gives a rat ass,” someone shouted.

“Drive the cab. The light is green, Charles said, as he slunk below the window.

“I guess they are jealous of famous people here,” Papadopoulos guessed.

“No. They hate everyone here,” Charles said with a smile. “It is what makes New York City famous.”

“That reminds me of a story. Want to hear it?” the cabbie said.

Do I have a choice, Charles thought. He didn’t say anything and knew it had to be a quick story because the bookstore was coming up.

“When I flew into LaGuardia we landed on time. In Greece no planes land on time. The planes always have to circle for at least 30 minutes because the air traffic controllers are always going on strike so they can watch the end of a sporting event or a TV show,” Mandria pointed out.

“I see, “said Charles.

129

“You do?” said the cabbie, astonished.

“Yes, I see my stop. You can pull over and let me out here,” Charles said.

Charles got out and paid the fare. He handed the driver both $100 bills as a tip. The driver froze.

“Start saving for your dream. I hope capitalism is as nice to you as it has been to me.” Charles said as he walked to the bookstore.

It was an independently owned bookstore. It was one of the few things that Charles secretly liked about Manhattan.

“The Indies can compete with Barnes and Noble,” he once told Anne, who was a big shot Madison Avenue Ad Executive whose firm had Borders as a client, before Borders went belly-up, as they say.

“As long as they keep their overhead down and find great writers to showcase at their stores, they have staying power. I prayed real hard for Borders, but that didn’t help,” Anne said.

“Did you ever think that the Indies and Barnes and Noble were praying harder?” Charles quipped.

Charles walked by the store and loved the marquee announcing his own appearance. He also liked that the medium sized store looked packed. He noticed a wine bar across the street and even though he promised Anne he wouldn’t, he somehow thought he might have one glass after his easy work was finished and before his hard work was to begin.

Charles entered the bookstore and was immediately recognized and warmly received. The owner of the store took him by the elbow and showed him off to everyone. Since there was a half hour to go before he was due on stage, Charles made small talk with the people there and did some book signings.  He always signed his books the same way:  “To______, nothing but happy endings!”  Then he would scribble a signature of his name. Charles wrote with a black sharpie, and since he had terrible hand writing, many people couldn’t make out all of what he wrote or his signature. However, they were happy to have it.  With about 15 minutes to go, a gorgeous redhead came up and introduced herself as Lucy and told Charles she was the day manager of the store and a big fan of his.

Charles gave her his look over without Lucy (or any other potential conquest) ever knowing that she was being looked over. That’s how good Charles Craig Curtis was when it came to his own brand of seduction.

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Lucy crunched his right hand in both of her hands and whispered “follow me.”

“I have to?” he replied.

“Is that a question?” the pretty young thing asked.

“No, it is the truth, you haven’t let go of my hand,” Charles pointed out.

She didn’t and dragged him to the children’s section.

“I don’t have a lot of time to play,” Charles said. He would not do anything to compromise his principal about being on time… even if it might be for a quick blow job and he quickly explained this to Lucy (not the blow job part) who gently let go of his hand. He quickly returned to the main room of the store where he worked the room like a local politician looking for votes.

Now, after he was done, that was different he mused.

It was his usual virtuous performance. People loved the passage he read from. They loved how he came up with the idea. They loved him telling how the illustrations were conceived. They loved his humble beginings. They loved how he poked fun at himself and his earlier attempts in the writing field. They loved when he described the publishing world in the present. He especially loved one question he was asked.

“Who is your agent?” a young man asked him.

“Gary Harte,” replied Charles.

The Gary Hart!?” was the young man’s reply.

And Charles got to recite all those stories to much laughter.

After the show was over he asked Lucy to join him for a glass of wine, breaking his promise to Anne, but telling himself that he would only be there for no more than two glasses of wine and then make it to Anne’s apartment at 9:00pm sharp. He had 45 minutes to kill.

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If you missed the earlier Chapters you can find them here.

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