A Tankard for Placard
By Mike Stevens
A Charles Placard Tale
He had given up; he had reached the end of his tether. Charles Placard sat slumped morosely at a table for two, all alone. He had tried to make it as a dramatic writer; he had tried to make it as a comedic writer; he had tried to make it as a non-fiction writer, and he had tried switching back to a dramatic style, all to no avail. When he'd poured all his efforts into writing a novel that was dramatic, they had laughed. When he'd tried to write a comedy, they had cried, when he'd tried to use his practical experience to break out, they had laughed, and when he'd tried drama again, they had still laughed. What was it they wanted? He was out of ideas, and out of hope. Right now, the only thing that mattered was getting to the bottom of his glass, so he could start all over. His gut hurt, and it was hard for him to tell if it was from the tavern cheeseburger he had just finished, or from bitter disappointment. Depression seemed to mock him.
"Loser; hey everyone, loser here!"
Ever since he had been a young boy, writing was all he'd wanted to do. Now that his dreams had blown up in his face, he didn't want to do anything but drink himself into a stupor, and in that, at least, he was being successful!
Charles Placard was stumbling his way home from yet-another afternoon spent hunched over a beer glass in the tavern around the corner from his single-wide trailer. Look at it, he got even more depressed at the sight. Streamers of rust down its sides; taped-together windows, and his beater of a 4-door car up on blocks in the carport. Not that he would have driven it anywhere; there was no place to go. That's assuming he felt like going anywhere, which he didn't. He had to figure out what he was going to do with his life, but writing was the only thing he was he'd ever been passionate about. As he was shuffling and stumbling homeward bound, he walked past the neighborhood book store. Sons of b*****s! Look at all the garbage that passed as real literature; he was just going to walk on by, but something, professional curiosity perhaps, guided his feet up the sidewalk, and his hand to the doorknob. He went in, not sure what he was doing here, but not turning around and leaving. He headed down the closest aisle, which happened to be fishing and hunting guides.
"Look at this s**t! I mean, do you clowns even consider this writing?" he mumbled out loud.
He was just about to leave, when a successful-looking businessman next to him grabbed a hunting guide off the rack, and walked the few steps to the register, Charles couldn't help but overhearing the conversation between the man buying the guide, and the sales clerk.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?" asked the clerk, a teen in a Motordeath tee shirt.
"Yeah, thank you, this hunting guide should do it; after I leave, you can lock up and go home, because you'll have made enough profit for the day!"
The clerk, with zits covering his face, answered, "Oh, you'd be surprised. This time of year these make us a lot of money!"
"Yes, sir, they fly out of here!"
The conversation continued, but Charles was no longer listening. This was it; his way to the top! While it was true he didn't know anything about either hunting or fishing, how hard could it really be to write like you did?
"The prepared fisherman should have two things in order to have a great and successful fishing trip. A fishing pole, and a s**t-load of cold beer!"
"When looking for a likely good fishing spot, look for another fisherman who looks to be having good luck, distract him or her by hiding somewhere, and then yelling out, "Hey, there's a car ablaze in the parking lot; look at that baby burn!"Then, when they quickly reel in their line, and leave to see if it was their car, simply slide on down and cast out your line. When they discover it wasn't their car, and return to claim their spot, simply say,
"Tough s**t, dude, I'm fishing here now!" They could take offense, but more than likely, they'll be a wimp who won't want a confrontation. You'll now be free to fish out the day, provided you brought enough beer!"
Charles finish writing, and looked up; it was growing dark outside; he'd been writing non-stop for most of the last 5 hours, but he had it; the book that would make him a well-known name in literary circles. The fact that he knew next-to-nothing about fishing hadn't slowed him down at all. Granted, it wasn't real writing, but it was a book!
"...and furthermore, any drunk fisherman might have written this! I mean, 'Grasp opener firmly' is NOT writing anything about fishing; take a hike; although with the amount of time you obviously spent on this waste of paper, you'll probably be back tomorrow with a book about that!"
Charles stomped out of 'Outdoor Cast and Bullet' magazine, thinking,I may not be an expert, but damn it, I will do ANYTHING; write about ANYTHING to become a success!
Charles once again sat at the same 2-person table in the same rundown tavern, with his once-again rundown dreams hanging over his head, and watched as the bartender set a full-to-the-brim tankard of ale before him, and took away the empty mug, Now what, again?