There’s Another Finish Line…

Completing a book is a satisfying feeling. It’s not the ultimate orgasm…but it’s damn close.

Reading the finished product…uncovering the diamond words…stumbling over the bad words. It’s all there. My work…for all to see…loathe…and love.


For me, behind the satisfying smile, is a voice. Another one of the inhabitants of my Attic. She is the person that I hate the most. She’s been with me my entire life. I don’t want to describe her physical features. That gives her too much power, and I don’t want to give her more control over my brain than she already has.

“Well, good for you mr. gates.” I hate the way that she lower-cases my abilities, but I dare not speak out against her. She back-handed me into a corner with a barrage of words that cut me to the core the last time that I dared challenge her assessment of my skill or effort.

“You think that you are so good? Let me parade Thoreau, and Poe into the room. How dare you consider yourself the equal of Clemons, Conan Doyle, or Fitzgerald.” She flicks a flowing clump of red hair over her shoulder, teasing me with the glimpse of an emerald eye. “I’ll bet that you think that you can run with the moderns? Richard Wright, Fitzgerald, Hughes, Hemingway, Baldwin? Mr gates, your supposed style lags against the talent of Angelou, Ellison, Cullen, Foster Wallace or Shirley Jackson.

I hate it when she sits on my desk, long pale fingers playing with the keys of my computer. She thinks that she knows me best, just because she hangs out in my favorite place.


There have been times when she was my only friend. The one that picked me up and pointed me toward…she’d hold my hand and say kind things when the world didn’t like me. A scared eight-year-old found a friend in Margaret.

And now Margaret is back. Her hair is as red now as it was on the day that she came to visit me in my attic. Her kind words are scarce now.

A week from now I’ll sit at a table and sign a pile of books. A smile of pride a relief nailed to my face. Across the way, she’ll sit. Filing at a ragged nail while she smiles that scourge of  smile. Margaret will wait her turn, flicking the ginger tresses that frame her freckled face.

“Okay mr. gates. The water break is over. You’ll never catch-up sitting here. There’s another finish line. Or are you just another wanna-be?”

In a few minutes, I’m going to start another race. I don’t give a damn what Margaret says, I’m the only runner in this race.

She’s not really mean…she inspires me to keep running toward the next finish line.


My coffee cup is filled with moldy slime and garnished with Margaret’s red lipstick. Her perfume smells of “eau de Cadavre Pourrissant”. She knows me well. I take a mouthful of the cups contents, being careful to cover her lipstick with my mouth. Tilting my head back, I breathe in the molecules of decay that float in my space.

The writing will be good today.

Thank you Margaret.

“You’re welcome…Mr. Gates.”