This is a story in progress. I will post it in chunks, for the next few weeks, as I complete it. A warning: this tale is definitely not for children, so parental advisory is advised. Or don’t let your kids read this. At all.
The Furious Muse in the Room Upstairs
By SDiRam, with an afterword by Kilawinguwak
“Don’t bullshit me,” said Juan Carlo Añonuevo as he dug into his tapsilog. He’d just finished a nighttime drinking session with SDiRAM and some people from the publishing house, and a midnight snack was warranted before the two of them headed home, so they took a trip to the nearest Tapa King in JC’s Volvo.
SDiRAM wasn’t bullshitting JC. In fact, that was the true story of how he published the now-legendary short novel Aurora, he said. Unbelievable as it may sound!
But JC wouldn’t budge. “Dude, so you’re telling me that a sexy, Nordic woman claiming to be a muse moved into the apartment above yours. This woman then proceeded to help you write the story that would eventually change your life. Bull. Shit.”
That was, indeed, bullshit. See, that wasn’t how it happened. The story, according to SDiRAM, was this: “One day, when I was done with all the work I had on my plate, I decided to get some real writing done. You know, I didn’t think I would really get that far since writing for Recto Online wasn’t paying as much as I wanted to. But the story wasn’t moving, so I was watching an episode of House MD when Pfil—Baby Blue—knocked on my door for the first time since they first made their presence known. This time around, she was dressed more sensibly, and that put me at ease. This time, too, I wasn’t watching porn, so I was in a less compromising situation.”
“She asked me if I was good to share a cup of coffee, since she’d made a whole pot but the other two weren’t home. She even brought the pot to show me just how much coffee she had to finish. I didn’t quite understand why she couldn’t just finish drinking a cup on her own, but I never said no to coffee, so I said yes and invited her in. I cleaned a couple of coffee mugs, then she poured us each a cupful.”
“The coffee was powerful—and I liked strong coffee!—but it wasn’t bitter. She smiled and said that this was because where she came from, the coffee beans were cared for not by farmers who needed to make money, but by artisans who loved coffee with all their heart. There was no hate in their hearts, no essence of bitterness towards the beans. This, apparently, was the secret to great-tasting, strong coffee.”
“This was interesting to me, so I asked her more about where she came from, but she was evasive, and instead pointed to the screen of my laptop. ‘I’m surprised that you’re watching House instead of writing,’ she said. ‘Don’t you like writing?’ I did love writing, but the fact was that the words just weren’t coming. But there was no direct way of saying this without sounding like I’m making an excuse, so I just shrugged and said that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Putting your words to paper was more than just an exercise, after all, and sometimes you need to sit and think—and maybe distract yourself from having to write—in order to get some work done.”
“She smiled at me, and sipped at her cup thoughtfully. This time around, she was wearing a polo shirt that was tucked into a pair of faded jeans. She looked like a hippie, truth be told, looked a lot like a whiter Madeline Zima with raven hair. Her coffee pot was a ten-cup Bodum press that looked rather well-loved (she loved her coffee, I’d imagine). She was the nicest-looking of the three, since her features didn’t seem as sharp as the other two, although you could tell that she carried herself with the same bearing as the other two.”
“I didn’t realize until after later that she was thinking of what she was going to tell me next. How do you respond to a writer who says he can’t write because he can’t think of what to write, anyway? The pedestrian would say ‘But there’s always something to write about! You can write about how your day went. You can rant about the way the cook looked at you funnily this morning. Heck, you can even write a short poem about your cup of coffee. How can you not find something to write about?’ But she wasn’t one of those people, since the next thing she said was this:”
“’I know what you mean. Inspiration’s hard to come by, isn’t it, when you’ve got nothing else in your mind but the echoing of your own doubts?’”
“This was five months ago. I never forgot her words, and she kept on visiting me every week until I finished the damn book. It wasn’t very hard for me to sell Aurora; the industry was ripe for a book that wasn’t about vampires or magicians, since everybody was sick of that. The first four bookstores gave me a nice offer for the rights to publish it, and I went with the guys who had a good track record of not sticking it to their writers, and that was that. But it never would have come together if she hadn’t told me that one sentence. I never would have gotten the nerve to sit back down and actually hammer out the entire story.”
JC rewound the recording on his iPad, and listened to the whole explanation again. “This isn’t going to work, bro,” he said after the second playthrough. “Nobody’s going to fucking believe what you just told me, whether or not you were telling the truth. I mean, okay, this Pfil helped you publish your book; now what? Is she your girlfriend?”
“Girlfriend? Hell no, if Versailles even found out that this woman was helping me write, she’d have my balls. I mean, Pfil saw me come, man.” He knew she would, too. SDiRAM’s girlfriend, Versailles Tomatina was extremely jealous, and he’d tell me, later on in his career, that it was going to get harder and harder to explain why all of the women in his novels and stories were Nordic whereas she was most definitely a mestiza whose features, though fine, still betrayed her as an indio. She would eventually corner him in his room with a shotgun (her father’s, I believe) and demand that he told her the truth.
The truth that was in JC Añonuevo’s iPad. Again, he shook his head. “It still won’t work, man. I’m your publicist, and I’m telling you that if I wrote that down on paper, it’s going to sound silly, and make you the laughingstock of the whole book industry. Look, we’ll keep the part about her coming over to your house one day to give you coffee, but we’ll use your girlfriend instead of this woman. Ok? And she’s going to be your muse, not this unwieldy bitch of a woman you have here that nobody’s even seen, except for you. It would be great if I could speak with your GF for a bit, she may be able to make this human interest story a little bit more interesting. Can you do a photo shoot sometime soon?”
SDiRAM didn’t really get what all the fuss was about, though. All he knew was that he’d just finished writing a book, and that it was (apparently!) selling really well. He knew Pfil didn’t really mind people not knowing about her, but it didn’t feel right. And was he really cheating on Versailles by making his book about this strong, coffee-loving girl from overseas, because my god, if you could have seen him when he talked about Pfil!
To be continued