Charlie Bouganvillia Rose, a short story by StevenHunley. Date added: 2012-09-13. Times viewed: 350.
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- Intro: Unknown Writer gets his fifteen minutes of fame on TV
The table between Charlie and Hunley was round and wooden and solid. It was old. Older than Charlie and Charlie was pretty old. He straightened his tie. He was always straightening his tie.
“So I must tell you, I’m so pleased to have you here today.”
“I’m pleased to be here, Charlie.”
Hunley smiled at the camera.
The table said nothing at all. It had too much class. More class than Charlie and PBS. That’s a lot of class.
Charlie turned to the camera and said,
“For those of you out there who missed last week’s show, we’re continuing the interview with Steven Hunley the world’s most well-know unpublished author. He’s an enigma, he’s brilliant, and he’s broke. Is that a correct assumption Steven? May I call you Steve?
“Of course Charlie, we’re friends you and I. We’ve known each other for at least twenty minutes. I was late, remember?”
“Because you chauffer got sick? Because your Rolls broke down again? I know, it happens to me all the time. Was it that?”
“Because Charlie, I missed my bus.”
Charlie loosened his tie. “Well, let’s talk about you work.”
“Never put down poverty Charlie. It helps you develop your edge. You’re never satisfied, know what I mean? You’re an Angry Young Man just like Sillitoe. It comes with the territory. Like Richard Burton in Look Back in Anger. Things get real black and white.
Charlie ignored the obvious reference to the Angry Young Men, and decided not to pursue it. He missed an opportunity.
“Which story do you think is your best story? Do you have a favorite?”
“That’s hard to say Charlie, it depends on my mood. If I’m in the mood for pirates I like Captain Jack and Constance or Cracker Steve and the Somali Pirates. If I feel real mysterious-like I prefer the Blood Stone Pair. For romance the Kiss or To Love Somebody. For adventure and romance I like The Spiceman. And those are the long ones. There are many more short ones.”
“You aren’t genre specific with your stuff are you?”
“Charlie, I write right across the board. I’ve got westerns and romance from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’ve done deep psychological thrillers. Well, not too deep. Maybe not even too psychological either. I even did a vampire story once.”
“Saints preserve you.”
“They have Charlie, they have many times.”
Charlie looked serious now; the inane banter was over. It was time to get down to brass tacks.
“What about your style?”
“Yes, your style. Thousands of critics rave about it, but not one of them seems to have a handle on it.”
Now it was Hunley’s turn to straighten his tie. He addressed Charlie, but looked straight into camera number four, because he knew instinctively, and I mean instinctively, it was showing his best side.
“That’s my secret Charlie,” He gave the audience a wink.
“Come on now Maestro, just a little hint?”
Hunley smiled an ingenuous smile that was so damned becoming.
“O. K. Charlie, just a hint. Just a taste mind you, but you’ll like the flavor.”
“Ah,” said Charlie, rubbing his hands together. “All right! Get down with it!”
“Get ready, Charlie, to see the ratings blow sky-high. Like an oil-well Charlie, greasy and black and valuable.”
Hunley was on top of the world. You could see it on his mug. He waited a second for full effect and when he let the cat out of the bag, it growled like a Sumatran Tiger. With relish.
“My descriptions are straight Stevenson. My short declarative sentences are pure Hemingway. My feelings and sentiments are Sillitoe and Maugham. When I need snappy dialogue I watch movies from the nineteen thirties. If I need snappy dialogue that’s contemporary, I just go to you-tube and rip off modern songs. Titles, lyrics, what-have-you. The real poets of today are song-writers, Charlie.”
Charlie had a difficult time pulling himself out from under the table. He made for the glass of water the same way Peter O’Toole did when David Lean offered him one in the middle of shooting Lawrence of Arabia.
He gulped it down in seconds. Then he dusted off his multi-hundred dollar suit.
“You mean you copy the masters?” Charlie said in a more than incredulous tone.
“Straight from the source, Charlie, straight from the source.”
“You mean you have a séance or something, don’t you?”
Charlie wiped his mouth with his hundred-dollar tie.
“Something like that, Charlie.”
Charlie was regaining his composure and looked at the clock.
“Well Mrs. and Mrs. America you’ve heard it here first. The secret of Steven Hunley’s unphenomenal literary unsuccess. He’s the most unknown talented writer on the face of the globe.”
In truth Charlie was glad it was over. It was the first time he was under his own table on national TV.
Hunley went home in a cab but only because the studio paid for it. He went into his house and it was a quiet as a tomb. Really, a tomb.
He grabbed a cheap 79 cent beer he bought at the 99 cent store and unlocked the large oak door to the basement. Walking down the stairs carefully in the darkness he switched on the 40 watt light.
The only places that remained in shadow were the niches in the walls. In a way, it reminded one of an Inca tomb. And well it should, because in each niche was a mummy.
Hunley went to the center of the floor, lit the incense, and did all of the spells and incantations required. It was quiet until they came alive.
The tallest mummy stepped out first. His droopy mustache was black and moldy. He wore a black velvet coat.
“I say, did you go on Bougainvillea’s show?”
“Yes, Bob, I did.”
“Was it fun?”
“Bob, it was as fun and digging up your bones in the Pacific and smuggling them here.”
A bearded mummy wearing a safari jacket from Abercrombie and Fitch said,
“As fun as a bullfight or fishing or the Spanish civil war?”
“Not that fun Papa, but almost.”
The next mummy spoke with an English accent with the bed-side manner of a doctor.
“Did you tell them I thought you stuff was the best realism since my Liza of Lambeth?”
“I did, Willie, I did,”
The last mummy spoke out in mock anger. For that reason Hunley loved him best.
“Did you mention the Angry Young Men? They have to know about us!”
“Yes Alan, I did. But one thing, fellows. You realize they’ll never believe me.”
“I should hope so.”
“It was quite a success, fellows. I suggest a toast. Then we can get back to working on my next story”
Next it was drinks all around. Before they went to work on the story, Hunley posed a serious question.
“Say fellows, see here. I was thinking of digging another one of you up. Who should it be?”
“Guy de Maupassant!” said one.
“Dumas!” cried another.
“Shakespeare!” bellowed the third.
“Kipling, by all means!”
“Fellows, fellows see here. We’ll have a vote.”
The voting and suggestions went on until the wee morning hours.
I’d tell you who they picked, but that’s up to you dear reader, completely up to you.
And you thought literature wasn’t interactive.
©Steven Hunley 2011
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