It can be a lonely life, being a writer. Few would understand the struggles that come with searching for the perfect word, the nuance. Don’t take my word for it. Check out Darrel Potts.
“It was a dark and stormy night.” No, too trite.
“The sky was as dark as a bad dye job.” No. Laughable.
“Nightfall was gloomy and threatening.” Close enough.
Darrel sat in the corner of the Donut Dugout, scratching his head as he peered at his laptop. Glancing around to fight off eyestrain, he found himself surrounded by retired farmers, or so it would seem. Was there a vendor outside selling John Deere caps? Not likely in the miniscule town of Cornell, Illinois. He looked at the menu in front of him. “The Donut Dugout – where chowhounds meet.”
Darrel was irate. His internet service had been down for a full week. He’d sat outside his house with an old ripped up card table and his laptop, trying to pick up signals from other peoples’ homes, but decided against it when Earlene Kusky rolled down her car window and asked him if he was setting up a lemonade stand. Earlene basked in attitude like others did sunshine. Her daddy was postmaster of Cornell. “Please don’t give me special service. After all, we’re just common people,” she was known to say just a little too loudly at the slightest pretense. One day it would be when the waiter brought a basket of crackers to her table at the Fireside Inn, the only true restaurant in Cornell. They had real cloth napkins over there. The next day, it might be turning down a lid for her slurpie at the Mighty Mart attached to the Feed ‘n Seed Shop. She’d preened, strutted and sashayed past her expiration date, he thought, so Darrel went to the Donut Dugout to work. For some reason beyond his understanding they’d installed wireless. People in Cornell knew strapless, but wireless was beyond their grasp.
“Hey there, son. Haven’t seen you around here before. What’s the occasion?” Sam Erless sidled over to Darrel’s table.
“Hi, Sam. I’m just over here until my internet starts working again.”
“If’n you need a net, you know, they got a sale on ‘em over at the Feed ‘n Seed. I reckon if you’d mosey over there today you could catch you a deal….”
It’s awful to say, but a thought sprung up in Darrel’s head and he let it walk around a bit, unleashed. “I’m surrounded by cretins,” he reflected. Before he could send the thought packing, it turned into a cretin fest, oldsters coming from all four corners. To Darrel it was “Night of the Living Dead” come to life. It was harvest time: they’d come to suck out his brain.
“You know, Darrel, I never did know what you do for a livin’” Jim Caldwell asked.
Darrel felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck, but he replied, as even toned as he could get, “I’m a writer.”
“What kind of writer?” Stuart Gibson asked, going in for the kill. Darrel peered at Stuart’s ball cap with the American flag on it. It was so tattered that the thought crossed Darrel’s mind that Stuart should contact the American Legion Post 56 and ask them how to dispose of it with dignity.
“I write about interesting people, I guess you could say.”
“Uh-oh, boys, he’s going to be writin’ about us. Watch yer language,” Stuart said as he pretended to recoil in horror.
“No need,” Darrel said. He didn’t point out that he didn’t see any material that qualified.
“Tell you what,” Sam said. “ If’n I was a writer, I’d head over to talk to Fred Cook, over there at his place. You know he’s quite the entraypraynure, over there. You know, he’s got two businesses goin’? He’s die-verstified, He’s got a business that goes summer and winter. You seen his sign over there on North Main? Lawn Mower Repair and Video Rentals! Man, he’s got it covered, ain’t he? He’s the Trump of Cornell!”
“Well, fellas, thanks for the great advice, but I’m sorry to say that I have to be pulling up roots here,” Darrel said. “Muriel?” he called to the waitress, “keep the change.”
Starting his car, Darrel mused, “No use hunting down internet service. I’m drowning in a quagmire of insipid corncob crunchers.”
Yep, a writer’s got a lonely life, all right.
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