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Prologue: An Introduction by Maxine Finch

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Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 58
Location: Canada
Prologue: An Introduction by Maxine Finch  Reply with quote  

This is an excerpt from my work-in-progress, which is tentatively entitled "The Adventures of Tyler and the Pewter Bracelet."

Prologue: An Introduction by Maxine Finch

I'm sitting in my living room, watching TV, and eating a TV dinner. A commercial comes on advertising some new itch cream from the makers of Goldbond. An enthusiastic middle-aged blonde on the screen is frantically scratching herself, all the while screeching like a six-year old without a Barbie doll. Then, a fat, balding man, presumably her husband, hands her a goldenrod bottle of the medicated cream. A logo flashes across the screen as both man and wife intone, "I scream. You scream. We all scream for itch cream."
I roll my eyes.
Just then the telephone rings.
"Hello?" I say.
The phone continues to ring. I pick it up and press talk.
"Maxine," says a voice I recognise, "It's Marty. Where are you?"
"I'm at home."
"Why?" he wants to know.
"Because I live there," I explain, slowly, to be sure he understands.
"Shouldn't you be at Macy's Diner?" he asks.
"No," I say, laughing, "I don't live there."
"For your interview," he says sternly.
"My interview?"
"Yes, with Suzy Bergman."
I don't say anything.
"About your new book," comes Marty's dull voice, choppy and distorted through the speaker.
I strain my memory, considering his words.
"Your new book, Life is Like a Hearse: It Drives a Lonely Road, Sometimes Swerving to Avoid Squirrels."
I laugh, "Oh, that interview," I say.
"Yeah," says Marty sharply, "I've got Ms. Bergman on the other line and she is pissed. Says she's been waiting at the diner for half an hour."
"I didn't know she was a waitress," I reply.
"No, I mean she's been waiting for you. You were supposed to be doing the interview half an hour ago."
"Oh," I say, "She must be mad."
"Like I said, she's pissed."
"Well," I say, "She shouldn't be getting trashed before an interview. It's not classy. Anyway, I didn't know the diner was licensed."
"Not pissed drunk," Marty replies, "Pissed off. Now get down to the diner. Pronto."
"Alright," I say, "Anyway, you said the interview wasn't until Thursday, September 6th."
"That would be today."
"Yeah, well I thought you meant next Thursday, September 6th."
"That would be in five years," Marty replies.
"Exactly," I reply, cradling the phone between my cheek and my shoulder as I put on a pair of socks, "Listen, Marty, can't we just cancel this interview? Do we really need the publicity?"
"No we can't cancel it, and yes, we need the publicity." His voice sounds definite. I almost have my sock on but my neck is starting to hurt. I put the phone under my other ear.
"Can we at least postpone it until next Thursday, September 6th?"
"No, Maxine, we cannot. You're just going to have to get off your lazy butt and go down to the diner."
"La-Z Boy," I reply, "Not lazy butt."
"So, I can expect you to be at the diner?"
"Yes," I say, and, laughing, add, "Next Thursday, September 6th."
There's a silence from the other end.
"OK, alright, I'm going. Bye Marty."
I flip the phone closed and shove it in my jeans. I get out of my seat, stick a tape in the VCR and press record, in case the itch cream commercial comes on again.
Grabbing my purse, I hurry out the door and lock it behind me. I start the car with my remote, get in, and pull out of the garage. I drive the same way very fat people eat: without grace, with a grimace, and with much more enthusiasm than necessary. Another analogy I could have used is that I drive like a pregnant woman in labour driving herself to the hospital (but if I was a feminist I would have to kick my own ass for making such a simile). I pull out onto the street, cutting off a startled elderly man in a sedan.
There are three things I hate in life (and gross understatements is not one of them). The first is traffic (but like anything worth being passionate about, my relationship with traffic is love/hate; indeed, I take great pleasure in my road rage). The second is Got ____? parodies. It's not that I don't get the joke. I do. I get it. I just don't see the point. You're making fun of milk. Milk's feelings are really hurt, I'm sure. Except that the guy that came up with those ads probably made a fortune on them, considering how many people must have seen the ads in order for there to be that many parodies. That guy is probably sitting in his fancy condo in New York going "Fuck you, Got Marijuana? Screw you, Got Me? Eat a dick, Got AIDS?" Maybe not, but that's what I'd be doing. The third is just about everyone.
I flip the old man the bird and rev my engine. I grin, push the car into drive, and take off down the street as a mother frantically grabs her child by the hand and pulls him off the sidewalk, narrowly avoiding my car.
My thoughts are not on the road but on the interview. What do I say? How do I tell her I really don't care about my book without estranging my fans? In fact, I was so drunk throughout the whole month during which I wrote that book that I don't even remember what it's about.
Why did Marty agree to have me do this interview? I will definitely have to fire him when I get back. But for now, what I need is a plan. I will just have to distract Miss Suzy Bergman. Tell her a story. Make her forget to ask me questions about my book to which I don't really know the answers. I gasp, slamming my brakes at a crosswalk. I stick my head out the window to swear at the kindergarteners crossing the street with their parents (the parents' expressions are priceless; they look like they've been hit in the face with a flyswatter: it's one part anger, two parts confusion, with a little bit of righteous rage thrown in the mix), then put the pedal to the metal again and am off like a shot.
Suddenly I've got a plan. I'll tell her Tyler's story. It's perfect.
I swerve into a parking lot, park across several solid yellow lines, and get out, locking the doors remotely to hear that wonderful chirp-chirp sound. I put my keys in my purse, check my reflection in a handheld mirror, then march up to the diner. A youngish man holds the door open as I step into the harsh lighting of the retro-style diner. 50's music is playing quietly over the sounds of waitresses taking orders and fucking them up.
"Table forů?" asks a teenage boy in a uniform.
I walk past him, leaving him staring after me, a bemused look on his face.
Suzy Bergman, an uber blond who is clearly not aware of her age, 37, stands up and waves excitedly. She's one of those people who thinks that the JC in JC Penny stands for Jesus Christ. Dressed in a denim miniskirt and a hot pink tank top, a gold chain embellished with a crucifix that's lodged right between her petite cleavage, she sports blue eye shadow and plenty of mascara. Her grin is Botoxed in place as she bobs up and down, flashing me her pearly whites. All signs of anger are gone. Marty said she was pissed off. As I always say, it's better to be pissed off than pissed on. It's more temporary that way.
"Maxine!" she exclaims, "At last!"
"Suzy," I gasp as she catches me in a ninja-like death grip. Panting, I realise that it's a hug, just as she lets me go.
She sits back down at her booth, and I sit across from her. A tape recorder is on the table. I'd always suspected she loved the sound of her own voice, but this...this is just...
"It's to record the interview," she explains, catching me looking at it.
She hands me a soft drink.
"Coke?" she offers.
"No, thanks," I reply, sipping the cola, "I don't do drugs."
Suzy shakes her head at me, rolling her eyes and smiling. "You are really something, Maxine Finch."
I nod.
"Shall we get started?"
I nod again. She presses record on the tape player.

Suzy- Maxine, I've heard a lot of opinions on your new book Life is Like a Hearse: It Drives a Lonely Road, Sometimes Swerving to Avoid Squirrels. Some say it's witty, others that it's a harsh but impassioned statement on feminism, others that it's racist and insensitive. What is your personal opinion of your book? What does it mean to you?
Maxine- Oh, I quite liked it. I thought it was a good read.
S- Ok...Can you tell me what inspired the novel?
M- Oh, yes.
S- What inspired the novel?
M- Which novel?
S- Your novel.
M- Oh, I've written many novels. I'm a writer.
S- Well then, what inspired Life is Like a Hearse?
M- Tyler
S- Who is Tyler?
M- A relative of mine. Tyler Finch.
S- And how did Tyler inspire you to write Life is Like a Hearse?
M- I think he imagined it.
S- Imagined what?
M- Me writing it.
S- How do you mean?
M- With his bracelet.
S- What on earth are you talking about?
M- On earth, I'm talking about Tyler and his bracelet.
S- Maxine, I'm not sure I understand what this has to do with our interview.
M- Well, I'll explain
S- Please do.

Suzy takes another sip of cola as I recline in my seat and begin to relate to her, with only a little embellishment, Tyler's story. The recorder hums mechanically, catching it all, and later, Suzy will type it all out and publish it in a book with an introduction that I will compose several weeks later. You, the reader, will have obviously marched down to the local bookstore or visited an online store and purchased a copy of the book. For your bad spending habits, Ms. Bergman will have now received plentiful royalties, and I will have received a pittance. I hate you. Remind me to fire Marty...or arrange for him to have some sort of tragic "accident". I could have that arranged.
Anyway, the following is the core of my interview with Suzy Bergman, edited down and sorted into chapters, the X-rated bits removed, and the part with David Bowie inserted at the last moment as a publicity stunt. Enjoy.
" that PMS on your face?"
"Whatever. Don't be jealous."

- Bryce

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