Write Me a Love Story
by Anthony J.S. Leclair
Thursday, August 1, 2013.
There’s a thickness in the air. I can taste it. A tumult. They are coming. My success, my fame…I am nothing but a vessel.
Ten years to the day. I cannot help but recall. Borrowed time flies after all, and it seems as though it was only days ago that I made my foray into the realm of the damned. I sat at my desk in my quaint, Deep River home, wondering just how much longer I could stand wasting my life away on silly notions of grandeur. I wanted so desperately to be a writer. And for all my desperation, I gained nothing but an empty bottle of whisky. Even now…these words may never meet a reader. But in those days, desperation turned to madness, or so I thought. I left my home in a grand, fumbling sweep of liquor and licentiousness, disrobing my desk of its paper prim.
Slamming the door, I stepped blindly , from rage or whisky I was not sure, down to the river, now devoid of those Summertime lovers and illegitimate children who so often plague the shores through the warmth of the Summer. I followed, through mud and brush, up a stream into the grand enclosure of Cedar Park: a happy beginning to many an unhappy child. As I struggled to keep my footing on the rocky bed of the stream, I came to a bench, hidden away from the rest of the park, whereupon sat a young boy. Realizing that I was being watched and not knowing for how long I had been, I quickly worked at regaining my composure.
The boy was unusually still. Messy platinum hair sprawled in shag about his head; his skin, deathly pale, emanated a glow, it seemed, of majesty. His eyes, almost white, paled as though perhaps he were blind and had been following my sound, not my ragged appearance. In spite of his equally drab and beaten clothing: muddied sneakers, sandy beach shorts, and a lightly stained polo shirt, the boy was beautiful. He could not have been more than seven, but he was arresting. Though I was more than aware of how disturbed I should have been, thoughts of the most appalling carnality swept over me; infecting my sensibilities…I desired him.
No sooner than I had managed to step toward him, I tripped over an outcropped root, peeking from the banks: a remnant of the Summer washout. As I deigned to look up from my last touch of dignity, there he stood before me: the little boy, beautiful and more desirable than any one thing on Earth. As I gazed into his cold but inviting eyes, I wept. I wept for us both: I wept for my guilt and my shame, and I wept for his innocence which I was soon to take. It was then that he spoke,
“I know what it is you desire.”
So articulate for so young a boy, I was rendered mute.
“Do not be afraid. I know all that you want.”
Now I was sure it was the whisky and not the rage that blinded me. I fought to say even a single word, but could only manage a weak, “Need…”
“Need, you say.”
Suddenly the boy had clutched my face in his overwhelmingly soft hands with a brute strength I could not believe.
“I’ve all you need.”
Said the boy as he viciously pressed his lips to mine. My eyes fluttered and closed, succumbing to the paradise that was my carnal desire. As I opened my eyes, I no longer peered into the pale windows of a little boy’s innocence. Rather, I saw the fiery pits of Hell; I saw all the calamities of the world in an instant and I made to reel back in a fear unparallelled, but the hands which still clutched my face would not release me and as I managed to see what was once the radiant face of the young boy, I happened upon a hideously beautiful beast. From the beast’s pursed and blistered lips came a forked tongue, shining silver, and with this, in low, guttural, yet simultaneously dulcet tones, it spoke,
“Do not yet leave. I can give you all you desire. You will be unrivalled in your works. You will shame the greats. No albatross about your neck; no hideous heart beneath your floor boards. You will be the greatest of them all, and you will know what it is to be great.”
My tears of guilt were replaced, at once, with tears of joy. I suddenly knew no bounds in my avarice, my lust, my gluttony. I envied none and my pride rose to the mountain tops to sing my own praises.
“You know the words you must speak my lamb. You do not want the wolves nipping at your heels. Tell me what you know I need to hear.”
I hadn’t known the words. I was drunk on cheap whisky and desire, and I had not known what to say, but no sooner than he finished, I returned,
“No angel of the lord shall bear me up, nor hound of Hell drag me down till I have slaked my lust and feasted on my desire; until I have supped at the banquet of need. And when I have had my fill, to Hell with my soul for no torture is as great as such a fall from grace; as desire fed and put to sleep.”
I was given sweet release from all that I saw in those torturous eyes. His hands opened, and as he let me go, I fell to the mud, but I fell further still. I fell beyond dream and delusion; I soared upon the bosom of the air as I, at once, set sail with Charon to the gates. I traversed Heaven and Hell in an instant, all the while fearing the countenance of the beast and longing for those untainted lips; the soft radiance of unsullied youth; innocence.
I woke to darkness and, as I lifted my head, realized I was at my desk, papers strewn, a puddle of drool where I had lain, and a bottle of whisky at my feet, empty.
A drunken stupor.
I reached for my lamp and as I switched it on, the bulb blew, and in that flash, I saw innocence…only for a moment. It was as though my youth shone brilliantly in that moment and was immediately extinguished; darkened. Blinded by this flash of light and youth, I endeavoured to feel my way to the door: it was evidently time for bed. I stood and pressed my hand to the wall to feel my way out, but the wall felt clammy. I began to notice ridges running along the wall, parallel to the floor. I stretched my arms out, far as I could, to take stock of what could have caused this unfamiliar feeling…was I still drunk? Though I could not see even an inch in front of my face, I looked down to where I knew the base of the wall to be and slowly scanned upwards, in hopes of noticing something. As I began to peer upward, past my eye-line, two paled eyes opened in the darkness and though I meant to scream, flail, run, I could only stand, arms outstretched, caught in a gaze of white heat.
The room was consumed by the light of these eyes though, before me, all was black still, save for the bright burning orbs. I noticed what spittle remained on the desk from my whisky slumber began to pop and boil and evaporate. Clouds seemed to form about me and while I was in my room, I was not: like a dream, when you know the place though it may appear otherwise.
Below the glowing orbs, in the expanse of blackness, opened a chasm of pearl white, piranha-like teeth: several layers of them, and protruding from the depths of the chasm, a flash of silver which carried a harmoniously awful bellow,
“Write me a love story. Share me with the world. Open people’s hearts.”
Love, fear, confusion…write me a love story? I’d no time to think. I rose slowly from the ground. No. The ground slowly removed itself and I saw into the world. I saw forever in an instant and though I knew all, I understood nothing. I hung there in time, arms reaching out until the white heat of those glowing orbs went black, and the silver spark retreated behind the layers of shredding teeth.
Deep into life.
And as I plummeted into darkness, I woke to the light…in a pool of dribble, face planted on my desk, a bottle of whisky at my feet, empty, and a stack of papers next to the typewriter. I looked at the stack, gave it a once over, and realizing it was a completed manuscript, was suddenly dumbfounded.
Did I write this? ‘Write Me a Love Story’. A forty polished at my feet, I must have had a long night, indeed, I thought to myself: passing off the boy and the beast and the blackness as dreams…awfully vivid dreams.
“Hey my good man. Just wondering if you’ve written anything useful out there in the sticks with that cozy advance we gave you.”
‘Write Me a Love Story’?
“It’s not what you guys have been expecting, I don’t think, but I’ve got something for you.”
“At this point buddy, any work is good. If you ever want to go anywhere that is.”
“It’s on its way.”
And that was it. A drunken night and an impatient, loansharking publisher looking to make bucks or break legs. He made bucks though. A few million of them before the end. Number one best seller all over the world. I topped the Bible in copies sold for that year, and each subsequent year. I was not a great: I was the great. Book signings had to be closed early, interviews had to be turned down because of so many bookings…it was good to have the pleasure of turning away FOX News. O’Reilly never factored into my schedule.
The parties, the women, the praise, the pride. I drank from the cup of excess and I savoured every drop.
Apart from the mob of fans, I had an elite group of the secondary darlings of the writing world for my entourage; the runners up, as it were, of greatness. They greeted me, daily, with admiration and praise and it seemed, to my eyes, that they understood their place; understood the pedestal upon which I sat and the reverence with which they should treat me. I’d no need to defer to them, but they everlastingly offered up their hopes, their dreams, and their seemingly drunken schemes of grandeur, knowing full well they were nothing more than just these simple illusions.
But one day, outside of a book signing, a group of writers, friends of mine, I thought; colleagues of mine in Toronto, started a demonstration against me. They seemed to think I was being underhanded. They were jealous. But their ferocity grew.
I sat at a book signing in Nicolas Hoare’s and a man brandished a gun shouting,
“I’ll write you a love story!”
A fan jumped in the way to stop him and took a bullet through the heart. Several others grabbed the gunman and opened him up just as well. I thought the world had gone mad. Why would anyone want to silence the greatest literary voice on Earth? The shooting was in 2007. In the years following that, people began to trash displays of my books, beat bookshop owners who supplied my works, hold massive book burnings…I was bigger than the Beatles, and if they were bigger than Jesus, then I was bigger than them all. I was the most famous…or infamous perhaps.
It wasn’t until the suicides that I lost the taste; the sweet surrender of my desires. Jumpers, all of them. At every event I’d attend, at least one of them would follow me and throw themselves from the building in which the event took place. We left the city proper; strayed from the buildings so the jumpers couldn’t follow. Well at High Park, a young and, I gather, once beautiful couple proved me wrong. The trees high enough, the rocks solid enough, the couple entangled in love of hatred for me, sprawled bloody and lifeless on the forest floor…not fully lifeless. The young man, twisted about his lover, looked into my eyes as the life slipped from his, rendering them a milky white…a memory returned to me of a dream I had of a little boy.
Calamity met me at every turn: two jumpers at the TTC as I tried to train to the Greyhound station, a vagrant who accosted me just as I stepped from the cab I took to the station and who took me for everything I had. The attendant at the ticket booth wouldn’t grant me use of my credit without proper identification as though he didn’t know I was whom I said. I stowed away on a Via Rail train to Ottawa, only to watch, as we chugged down the track, the metropolis burn as planes descended like partridge too slow to scape the hunter’s shot. As I was caught hiding on the train, we collided with a transport truck at a crossing. I stumbled my way from the train and down the track in a deep, red-tinged daze, waiting to find myself in my study, face in a slop of drool, bottle of whisky at my feet, empty, safe and cozy and unknown.
I slaked my lust and feasted on my desire until I had supped my fill at the banquet of need. I had my fill; my desire fed and put to sleep, and indeed no torture could be as great as such a fall from grace.
A howl…a thunderous rumble.
“To Hell with my soul…” I had once said.
They were coming. The hunt began. Storms brewed, trees fell, fires raged; the Earth shook, but I ran. I ran day and night and could not stop no matter how my body ached: no matter my blistered feet, my swollen ankles: no matter the many sharded fractures up my shins, the incessant gasping for air that felt all too thick to breathe…no matter, for it was the howling that spurred me ever on…those hounds of Hell.
I became delirious for as I ran through the fire and the rain, I swore I could hear a guttural, brutish, yet dulcetly harmonious voice on the haze of dead air, chiming,
“I know what it is you desire.”
Somehow I ran harder still, staring at my feet to somehow think them into action.
I tumbled, with great force, into the mud. It hurt so intensely to lift my body from the ground. A flash of flame shot above me and as I glanced, briefly, at the puddle below me, I saw a beautiful little boy. I spun round, wrenching my back…nothing…then howling in the ever closing distance.
“Do not be afraid. I have all that you want.”
I crawled for a time. Just so long as I was moving. At length I stood and ran as hard I could with the little I had.
Thunder. Lightning. Rage.
“I’ve all you need.”
I came, at last, to my Deep River home, where suddenly the storm lifted. The darkness broken by the light. A peaceful town. Quiet. Empty…quiet. No howls. No beautifully foul voice on the air. My body, invigorated and without pain, felt able to fly; to be lifted to the heavens. I went down to my study, sat at my desk, a bottle of whisky at my feet, half full, and stared blankly at the barren white sheet set and ready in my typewriter.
I shot upright. I swore I heard a barking outside. Silly me. A beautiful August day: who wouldn’t be walking their dog. Suddenly I had a great idea for a story. I had some weird dreams of late. So I started:
‘There’s a thickness in the air. I can taste it. A tumult. They are coming. My success, my fame…I am nothing but a vessel.’
Then, with sweet innocence, I heard a young boy, breathing at my neck,
“Write me a love story.”