[This was originally a guest post on my buddy, Stephen's blog. You can find him at writingsforthemad.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on twitter with the handle, @smoran26]
The green LED notification light on my Android blinked to alert me of the email from my potential editor. As I slid the lock screen down and stared at the home screen, I feverishly opened my Gmail account with anticipation to see what she had done to improve my work.
To be clear, I am and will continue to be very selective as to who will have the honor to touch my work in that way. This particular editor, who I met through a popular social network that I prefer not to name, carried herself in a very professional way. It was clear that she was driven, and while I had never laid eyes on anything she had edited, I felt as if I could trust her with my words. After pressing my finger to open the email entitled, “Your story, improved” it was clear that she was a bit full of herself.
Self-confidence was a necessary part of this craft, that much she understood, but I grimaced at the way she desecrated my baby. Perhaps it was a lapse of judgment to send her a piece that I held so dear to my heart right off the bat, but what better ways to test her mettle?
The once beautiful words I penned were now chaotically rearranged, an unsightly shell of what it meant to be. With the phone still in my hand, I ventured back to my inbox and pressed on the ‘compose’ tab. I grimaced as I typed the letter, knowing full well she’d buy into my heap of lies that would make their way to her in a matter of minutes.
I love what you did with my story. It was a very important piece, perhaps the most important of my short career. I’d like to meet with you in person to talk about compensation for future works of mine. I think we make a great team so far. I’ll be home all day today so shoot me a reply if you’re available at all today. Time is of the essence.”
As soon as I hit send, I felt a discomfort in the pit of my stomach, knowing that I had lied to this woman. Spoon feeding her hopes and dreams was the only way to make her pay for the crimes she committed against my passion.
I called my wife to tell her of the expected company after receiving a return email telling me that was in fact free today.
“Hey, love. I have some money here for you to pick up some shit from the grocery store. I have a friend stopping by and I’d prefer if I was here alone to discuss business.”
I nodded my head along with her willingness to compromise my needs. She told me she’d be here in a few to grab the cash. The wife came and went, almost with perfect timing, as I was expecting the self-professed editor extraordinaire would be in my presence. I made my way to the garage and lifted the door up before pulling up a chair and cracking a beer.
For one reason or another, I wasn’t nervous of my plans. This was a big step for me, to sacrifice so much in the name of my writing. I keep telling myself that is necessary, and it really is. Her rusty red Ford pulled up and she parked it across the street as she made my acquaintance. Her bleach blonde hair bounced with every step, her slender figure met my eyes as she stepped through the raised garage door.
She extended her hand and placed it in mine, shaking it as I asked her if she’d like a mixed drink. She agreed to my offering. I slipped inside and reached into the cabinet before grasping the liter of Ketel One and a 12 ounce can of Sierra Mist. I stepped into the bathroom and swung open the medicine cabinet, grabbing a sleep aid that my wife used semi regularly. Turning the bottle upside down, I shook two into my open hand before twisting the cap back on.
I placed the pills on the counter and crushed them with a spoon, brushing them into the mixed drink. I made my way back to the garage, where she was sitting and admiring the cloudless sky.
“Here’s your drink.”
“Oh, thank you.”
I pulled up a matching oak wood chair and sat beside her, joining her in her admiration.
“So, tell me about yourself,” I said as I turned my attention from natures blue to her own.
“Well, I’m more of an editor than a writer, but I like to dip into that sometimes as well.”
“Would you say you have a grasp on the craft?”
“I’d like to think so,” she answered as she sipped her drink, “but I think you could be a better judge of that than I could.”
I rose up from my chair and walked over to my wall of tools. As I stared at various screwdrivers and hammers, I reacted to her statement.
“That’s actually why I called you here. There’s something about your work that touches me the wrong way. It almost seems like your goal is to desecrate and shit on anything worth a damn.”
Shock overcame her face as I continued on.
“I’ve watched you for a while and it seems to me that you’re not in it for the love. You’re in it for the money. The prospect of what this art could bring you financially. I can’t stand people like you. Talentless fucking hacks.”
She defiantly stood up, “I will not be insulted.” She intended to defend herself more, but stumbled and complained of feeling dizzy. I giggled to myself once she staggered backwards on landed on her ass, now laying on the garage floor.
“You’re making this a little too easy for me, darlin’.”
I clutched a hammer that was hanging from the wall and stepped forth, telling her I’d make damn sure that she’d not have the opportunity to ruin another’s work. The fear in her eyes filled me on what she believed my intentions to be.
“No, I’m not going to kill you. Get that out of your head right now. You will be punished, though.”
She took a deep breath when I lifted the hammer above my head sent it crashing down on the opposite side of her palm. She tried to let out a scream, but couldn’t. Either the drug had taken over or the sheer pain knocked her out.
I proceeded by smashing every one of her fingers into dust. I rolled her out into the driveway as my wife pulled up with groceries.
“Another hack. You know what to do.”
She nodded her head and dug into Nicole’s pockets to grab the editor’s keys from inside. As she revved up the engine, I placed Nicole in the back seat.
My wife pulled away and drove off into the distance. Dark clouds now concealed the once gorgeous blue skies.
“I love when it storms.”