By Mike Stevens
A Charles Placard Tale
The sullen skies opened up, and he was suddenly caught in a monsoon; only, weren't monsoons usually warm water, because the icy raindrops didn't feel particularly warm;
"S**t!" screamed Charles Placard, from where he lay in his sleeping bag, on the front lawn of his friend Rupert's house. He'd been sleeping there the last few nights, because, until he thought up some way to become rich off his writing, which he'd yet to do, he was a little down on his luck. This being the first week of February, the weather was atrocious, but this was the only way Rupert had agreed to let him stay here. He knew he should just get a job, but Charles Placard wasn't a man to give up easily, and what he wanted was to strike it rich off his pen. But alas, so far at least, he hadn't figured out what the people wanted. He'd tried everything from serious to humorous, and everything in between, but had nothing to show for his efforts. He just couldn't figure it out; there just HAD to be a way!
Just then, Rupert stuck his head out the door and called, "Time to clear out; I'm headed for work."
Charles grumbled and mumbled under his breath. "Yeah, yeah, d**k head!"
This was the agreement. He had to sleep outside, and everyday, when Rupert left for work, he'd have to clear out. Why Rupert wouldn't even trust him on his front lawn when he was away, Charles didn't understand. No food, no bathroom (Charles washed up at the Handy-Mart bathroom), and nothing which vaguely resembled humanity.
He stumbled his way over to what he jokingly referred to as 'Placard Place', the 4-door monstrosity currently serving as both his home, or would have, if it wasn't jammed full of his belongings, and his office-on-wheels. Strewn across the front seat was what he'd gotten accomplished in his latest attempt to write a serious novel, "Fall Asleep, Dream a Little, and Die!". It was much slower going because he was using a pen instead of his computer, and his spelling left something to be desired, but getting close to being done, he was. While he waited for the circulation in his hands to return, man, was it ever cold, he reviewed what he had written yesterday:
"Bobby restelessly turned over. In his dream, he was holding the sharpened steak nife in his left hand, the fork in his right. Boy, was this steak ever tuff! It was all he could do to cut a peece off the bloody steak. So tuff, that he had to push with all his mite; and still, the meet remained solid. Damn it, he wanted a bite! He pushed still-harder. "Damn it, cut, you bast..." Sudenly, the nife cut all the way through, and cut into his leg! Bobby snapped wide awake, only to see his hand come down, grasping a bloody knife, and, almost as if there was some invisibal hand holding the knife, over which he had no control, plunge the cold steel into his flesh. Bobby screemed/laughed hystericaly, as his own hand repeetedly stabbed downward!"
"Charles Placard, Mr. LaRue will see you now." Charles strode confidently into Mr. LaRue's office, at 'Fantastic Dramatic Press'. Sure, he hadn't had much, or any, luck, but today was another day! He still believed deep in his heart that he was a great writer, destined for great things. After all, all it took was for one company, one man, to recognize the greatness within him, and he'd be off and running! Maybe this company, this man, would be the one.
"Hello, Mr. LaRue, I'm here to give you the first shot at a literary gold mine, me!"
"Have a seat, Mr. Placard; I understand you're the author of this manuscript."
"Yes sir, that's correct."
"And you still say that this is a dramatic novel, correct?"
"Well, I just wanted to see you for myself; this is unbelievable!"
Yes, after all this time, somebody was being smart and snapping up greatness!
"This is unbelievably bad! I mean,
"...cawsed Bobby to shriek in agony, and beg for his mother, even though she had abandined him at birth, in the backseat of a hatchback, and gone in pursuit of her dream of becoming a hot-coal walker in the Cirk of Flames Traveling Circus. His mother, nor anybody else, could save him now, as his hand, seemingley with a mind of it's own, cept flashen down, still holden the bloody nife, and reepeetedly plunged the nife-blade into his leg!"
"I mean, what? I mean, a man losing control of his own hand and stabbing himself? Ha, ha; this would make a better comedy book than a dramatic one!"
Not again! "Well, Mr. LaRue, I thought you were smarter than that; but you can't see the obvious greatness before you. Good day, sir!"
Charles turned over, and his horn shrieked, causing shouts out of darkened bedroom windows across the neighborhood his car was parked in. His sleep-filled eyes searched for his wrist watch. He held up his wrist, so he could see it by the light of the streetlight up the road where he was parked, and groaned. It was only 3.15 am. He just had to come up with the novel that would make him rich very soon; this living in his car blew! He had been staying on Rupert's front lawn, because his car was jammed full of his belongings, but the hell with that! He'd got rid of much of his belongings, and moved into his car. He would no longer be subject to Rupert's 'conditions', and besides, it was too damn cold outside. As he lay there, shivering (he didn't want to waste gas by starting the engine so he could run the heater), he shook a white sheen of frost from his body. In addition to being very cramped and uncomfortable, it was very damp inside, and the dampness tended to freeze.
His thoughts turned from how miserable he was, to again focusing on topics for a book; there just had to be something, and he was bound and determined to find it!