Category Archives: Prose

Writers: Play Some D&D

It’s been pretty well established by this point in my life that I am a nerd of many sorts. Theatre, sci-fi, fantasy, board games, video games, math, logic, philosophy, mythology, religion… there’s a lot of nerdy in me. So it shouldn’t come even remotely as a surprise that I have played a LOT of Dungeons & Dragons in my day.

My first introduction to the game, though it was ultimately not an accurate representation at all, was back in the summer after my 7th grade year when I was 12 years old. It was, I believe, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition… I don’t remember much of it at all, but again. Not very accurate. Still, somewhere in my room right now is the first character sheet I ever had.

Since then, I’ve played 3e, 3.5e, 4e and am currently in a group playing the D&D Next edition. I’ve been the Dungeon Master for two different (ultimately falling apart) 3.5 campaigns. I’ve played Pathfinder, Iron Kingdoms and even a d20 system a friend of mine created. I’ve done some role-playing online and have oodles and oodles of ridiculous stories to tell about the various campaigns.

Most people find the game to be instantly associated with the nerdiest of the nerdy. I suppose that’s a little fair… while high fantasy and the like have been becoming more and more acceptable over the years (just look at the successes of Peter Jackson’s interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” books, as well as HBO’s “Game of Thrones”), it’s more acceptable to observe fantasy, not attempt to live it out. D&D and other role-playing tabletop games are predicated on the notion that one designs a character with a story and interjects themselves, via that character, into a fantasy world. Granted, not every tabletop RPG is set in fantasy, but that’s where D&D began.

Even so, despite it being “super nerdy,” it has seeped into our culture just a bit. You have the people that seem to think D&D is something where people learn witchcraft and are members of the occult… As well as the people that know how laughable that is and like to point out how sessions of D&D usually go. Season 2 of the absolutely wonderful TV show “Community” has a fantastic, hilarious and kinda accurate episode titled “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” that is well worth the watch (you need Hulu Plus for that link, sadly).

The point is, though, whether you think it’s crazy nerdy and has some ridiculous stigma on it or not, if you’re a writer… I think you would do well to play this game.

I realized the other day, when writing the background for my character in the current campaign I’m playing, I’ve written more detailed character story and background for some of my D&D characters than I have for some of my characters in my stories and scripts. That’s not to say that I don’t have good backgrounds for the non-D&D characters… I just don’t tend to write them out and consider all the aspects of their previous lives. However, in D&D, I tend to tell very detailed stories about their pasts and how they came to where they are now.

It’s a really good writing exercise, especially when you limit yourself. As someone that tends to prefer the classics of poetry and art, where the product must conform to a certain style or limitation, I feel that talent, skill, creativity and thought are more thoroughly applied and utilized than in styles where slapping anything together counts. Anyone can buy three blank canvases and call it art or take random paragraphs from random books, tape them together on a page and call it poetry. But how many people can write something truly heartbreaking and moving with only 140 syllables in 14 lines of iambic pentameter and a rhyming scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG? I refer of course to the sonnet, of which some guy named Shakespeare wrote several.

It’s not easy to make something conform to limitations. But it is certainly an exercise worth trying, especially if you find your characters lack depth. Here’s my suggestion, as these are the ways I’ve found the most character work: Find some people to play D&D with. Find other writers or friends that know what they’re doing. You can do a preset campaign or let yourself/another writer write a story/world for you all to play in. But when you’re making your character, give yourself restrictions. In most versions of D&D, you can give your character flaws, which detriment your character but allow for extra benefits to balance it out. A lot of people will do this to make ridiculously powerful characters, but don’t focus on the game play so much as the character. People are flawed. How does that affect your character? Alternatively, ask your DM if you can bend certain rules, so long as you get a good story out of it.

For example, the current campaign I’m playing is in D&D Next, which is still basically in beta, so there’s a lot missing. My favorite class, the cleric, only has three domains to choose from at the moment… and none of the gods of Faerun in the domain I want to use have the right alignment for my character. I could have just changed my character’s alignment, but I decided to write a story behind it. Why would someone that disagrees with a certain deity’s way of life be a priest for that deity? And so, my story was written.

You don’t necessarily have to play D&D or any tabletop RPG to pull off this exercise. But I think D&D is a good template with a lot of creative options you may not consider… and playing the game will let you see how honest you can be to your character and keeping him or her consistent in certain situations. Plus… D&D with the right people can be LOADS of fun. 🙂 Give it a try some day.

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 8

It’s great being back in Tuscaloosa. The trivia scene here is far more exciting than in Huntsville, and it seems to mean more when the team I’m on places third. Especially in a place I actually go to and eat at.

Trivia also takes a while. Something I forgot. So… Here’s the (probably not) long awaited finale to that story that I’m going to fix some day. Here’s part 7, which will lead you to part 6, which should lead you to part 5, which should lead you to all the other parts.

And we’ll definitely have stuff to talk about tomorrow. Even if it seems like I’m ripping off of Warren Buffett (I’m not, I swear).

I paid the cab driver after I exited the vehicle. As he drove off, I walked up the driveway to Jake’s house. I paused in the middle and looked at the dark night sky, searching for help in the stars. I sighed, knowing that I could find no solace in them. I walked up the steps onto his porch, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. The white door slowly opened. Jake, looking haggard, appeared in the frame, looking at me.

Before he could say anything, I brought the case of beer I was carrying in front of my face. “Want to share?”

He grinned, grabbing my arm. “Come on in, you big dope.”

I grinned back, and walked inside the house. Jake shut and locked the door behind me. I walked into the den and set the beer on the table in the middle of the room. I then sat on the couch it was set in front of, next to the television. I glanced at the TV and saw a freeze frame picture from our movie where Austin started to run to the church. Jake had probably smuggled the film from the studio and got someone to make a VHS of it. He did that sort of thing all the time in college. I sucked in some breath. This was going to be harder than I thought.

Jake sat down in his leather La-Z-Boy, facing the TV. As he reached for a can of beer, I decided to study his appearance. Jake and I were extremely similar in many respects. Many people asked over the years if we were brothers, and we laughed every time we were asked. We were both about six feet tall, he was an inch taller than I was. I was slightly broader than he was, but nothing impressive. We both had dirty blond hair, though mine bordered on being brown. Our eyes were different colors. His were green, proof of his Irish heritage I liked to believe, where mine were a dark blue. We attended the same college, took most of the same classes, played soccer together, and we even liked the same women. Jake’s personality, however, was completely different from mine. Jake was flashy, flirty, and headstrong. Once he had an idea about something, nothing could get him off that path. Me, I was quieter than he was. I stayed to myself almost all the time before I became friends with him. Women liked me a little better in the romantic sense because I had both of my feet on the ground. Jake was charming, but I was mysteriously appealing. We had been friends since a few weeks into freshman year at college, and now, at age twenty five, we were still good buddies. It was this strong friendship that allowed me to talk to Jake about my troubles for all those years, such as how I was going to pass my chemistry final, how I was going to pop the question to Tabitha, things like that. Now I had to play Dr. Phil as our positions were reversed.

As I reached for a beer, Jake decided to start us off. “So. I know you didn’t come just to share the beer, Trent.” He sipped from his can.

I nodded, popping mine open. “You’re right, Jake. I came to express my astonishment and deep founded concern.” He raised an eyebrow. “Jake?” I asked him, hurt in my voice. “Why did you leave me alone in that parking lot?”

He burst out laughing. I grinned. As long as he knew that I wasn’t here to be the bad guy, everything would be fine. I drank some of my beer. “Seriously, Jake. Want to tell me what got you so upset?”

Jake glanced at me, and then looked intently at his can of beer. Sighing, he set it on the table. He looked straight at me. “Trent. The movie wasn’t supposed to go that way. It was supposed to be an utter failure. I had figured that people liked the fantasy world they lived in so much that any glimpse of the real world would disgust them. I wanted, more so than becoming a martyr, to teach them that the real world could be a gruesomely ugly thing. Now, I know there are times when the good guys do win. However, it can’t happen all the time. There are too many videos that encourage that type of thought.”

I sipped at my drink. “I don’t understand this anger though, Jake. Why can you not be pleasantly surprised or something? I mean, we made good money. Why can’t you be happy?”

Jake smiled, almost sadly. “Trent, you of all people should know why. Or do you not read what you write?”

I suppose the perplexed look on my face clued him in to my confusion. Sighing, he grabbed the remote for his VCR and rewound the tape a little before playing it. I heard Austin speak as he ran, narrating his thoughts to the audience.

“I knew then that I could never fit into society. I have been too far out of it for far too long. I thought that people could never change… that Kevin would always be a heartless bully and Uncle George would always be a heartless drunkard. But these people swayed like an abandoned swing in the wind. I was hopeless to figure out the driving force of the ebb and flow of human thought. If I could not please other people, then how could I please myself? If I could not please myself, then what was the purpose behind my life? I thought of all-”

Jake paused the video. I turned to face him, slowly, shocked. I opened my mouth to say something, but Jake cut me off, laughing. “No, no, Trent. I’m not suicidal. Not when it comes to my life. However, everything Austin said there are basically my feelings on the matter. I thought that I had finally figured people out, that I finally knew what drove their madness. But I was wrong. So, I’m going to stop being a producer.”

Suddenly forgetting the goals that Jake’s father set before me, I blurted out my immediate reaction. “But why, Jake? You just made a killer movie! It had more sales on the first week than a lot of blockbuster hits! I mean, you’re just gonna quit right when you figure out-”

Jake raised his hand to cut me off. “Trent. I’m quitting my job because, with my job, I have to please the public. But my idea of what the public wants is too adamant. I’m hardheaded and don’t like changing my opinions, Trent. You know that.” He smiled, and I nodded knowingly. “With a public that keeps changing, a guy that doesn’t change can’t please them. Remember “Gone With the Wind”? That was the first movie with a curse word in it. The nation was appalled, the public outraged. And now look at movies. You can find hardly any movies without cussing, sex, or blood and gore. The public opinion changes, but I don’t change with it.” He shrugged. “I’m just not cut out for it. My dad tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen.”

I drained the last of the beer from my can. “So what are you going to do now?”

Jake shrugged again. “I’ll probably go to graduate school or something. Maybe I’ll be a middle school teacher.”

I grinned wide. “So, since you can’t corrupt people when they’re old enough to watch the movies, you’ll corrupt them while they’re young and impressionable?”

He laughed. “Something like that.” We both stood up.

I grabbed a couple of cans from the box. “For the road.” I grinned.

Jake only smiled. Then, he clasped me on the shoulders, forcing me to look at him. “Trent. Promise me you’ll stay in the business? Hollywood needs someone like you, someone with insight. I think that, as long as you find the right inspiration, you can do good.” He started to chuckle after I nodded. “You know what the worst part about making this movie was? I became both the movie I wanted and the movie I hated. I was the good guy that succeeded, but my plan was to fail, so, ultimately, I was the story I was looking for. Maybe you can do a script about us.” He winked.

I smiled. “Perhaps. Sounds like a nice story, don’t you think?” We grinned at each other. I opened the door and walked onto Jake’s porch.

Before Jake shut the door, he said, “Keep in touch, okay, bud? I’ll try and drop by your house whenever I can. You know, just so you remember that you can’t get rid of someone like me no matter how hard you try.” He smiled.

I smiled. “Always, friend.” I turned away from the door, hearing it shut and lock behind me. I walked back onto the driveway and called a cab. I sat down on the concrete, again looking at the stars. I smiled. Maybe I could find refuge in them after all.

As I stared at them, I pondered. A movie about the stars? Nah… too science fiction.

The cab arrived, and I got in. Soon, the street was silent.

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 7

So, originally, I was going to talk about a comparison between the poor and corporations in relation to taxation under the idea that corporations are people. But I had a slightly longer day than usual, what with auditioning (though not wholly intending to initially) for a spot on my old A Capella group Subject to Change. Which led to a really odd moment where I realized that I, a tenor/baritone, had hit a lower note than any of the others that auditioned before I left.

That awkward moment, right?

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to be assisting my old video gaming group ABXY with their Get On Board Day table. As someone who has a rotary phone and a working typewriter he actually uses, my fondness for nostalgia should be obvious at this point. I may be gone, but you’re never rid of me, college. Mwaha.

Ahem.

At any rate, in deference to my desire to sleep and general annoyance with the surge of crap that seems to be coming out faster and faster from the GOP frontrunners these days, I give you the seventh part of that story that I seriously wrote a long time ago this was pretty much my first short story please don’t think I write that poorly now oh God.

…I mean, the seventh part of that story I meant to give you before when I thought I had computer troubles. They’re all better now. Here’s part six for you, and you can find the other parts (if you want to) from there. And, seriously, I will rewrite this some day.

Finally, the week was up. Those seven, long days made up the only week that was as important as the time we had to get the script okayed by the GG. Here Jake and I were again, going back to the GG, trying to see what kind of a dent our movie made in the American public. This was the day that Jake and I would learn our fates, instead of our movie’s. Jake, of course, would expect failure. However, I had hopes of success. Perhaps my hopes were vain attempts to grab the whisper that was my life’s dream. Even as a child, I had wanted to tell stories. With the film industry, it was possible. However, you can only feel accomplished in your goals if people enjoy what you have done for them. I could read a story to a brick wall and feel no better than before. Today was the day I would find out if I had only been writing my stories for the wall, or if I had finally made a difference in society.

For those days after Jake, Tabitha and I watched the critique of our movie, I prayed for direction for my life. Now mind you, I’m not typically a praying man. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. I prayed to anyone that would listen. I asked if my life had meant something, or if it was time for me to give up on the world, and live out my life without the tumult and clamor outside my door. It was my hope that this movie, my greatest work, was appreciated for what it was: the story of a troubled child. I hoped that the people of the world could see themselves in the story, or find a little bit of themselves in one of the characters. I hoped that perhaps people would watch the movie and see the things in their life they needed to fix. Maybe, just maybe, it had happened the way I’ve wished for it all my life. But perhaps it was too much to ask for.

Jake dropped by my house Saturday, one week after our film’s limited release. The first week that a film is in theaters is the most popular time for people to go watch. We could obtain a vague estimate of our movie’s popularity from its first week of ticket sales.

I was obviously nervous on the trip to the studio. Jake looked over me, glancing at my bouncing legs, white knuckles, and perspiring forehead. He looked back at the road. “Trent, buddy. You okay?” I glanced at him, thinking he could figure out that answer on his own. He saw me out of the corner of his eye and grinned. “Just remember, either way, it doesn’t matter as long as we taught the lesson. Of course, people aren’t going to like our teaching methods, so they’ll hand us the pink slip. But, hey! Welcome to martyrdom! We get to leave the business with a big uproar, and everyone will remember us. We, Trent, are the last great fighters of the age of realism. With us closes the chapter, leaving room for the world of fantasy to pave its ways through society.”

I glanced at him. “Are you sure you weren’t supposed to be the scriptwriter?”

He laughed, and we drove on. But I was still nervous.

We finally arrived at Miramax studios, and we were, for the third time, in the office of Jake’s father, Greenlight Guy for Miramax studios. Three is a very powerful number. I just hoped that power would sway in my favor.

Sorry, Jake. This time, I want things my way.

Mr. Bunson, already standing, looking out the window, turned to face us. “So. Mr. Smith. Jake.” We both nodded. “You’ve written a wonderful script, as I said before, Trent. And you, Jake, made it into an awesome movie. Even if it was a slightly – horrific? – view of life.”

Jake and I mumbled our thanks.

Mr. Bunson smiled. “Well, I don’t suppose you two have come to hear my opinion. Besides, it is ultimately the public, not the individuals, that makes or breaks you. Am I correct?”

I said nothing, waiting in anticipation.

Jake snorted. “You think we don’t know that? Just tell us the numbers. I’m guessing nothing more than fifty thousand for that first week. Probably less.”

Again, Mr. Bunson smiled. “Well, here. I’ll give you the papers to look at yourself.” He handed us a few sheets of paper stapled together. Jake snagged it out of his hands and flipped to the last sheet, scrolling down the page until he reached the bottom. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide. He looked up at Mr. Bunson, a look of anger fleeting past his face. Mr. Bunson only smiled. I grabbed at the papers, snatching them away from Jake, afraid that he had the look of anger on his face because the money was smaller than he thought possible.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jake turn around and storm off. Before I could go after him, however, a number at the bottom of the page caught my attention. I followed it across the page, and my eyes seemed to grow in size. I looked Mr. Bunson, not willing to believe it. He only smiled.

“Is this… real? This is what we got?” I asked, my hand shaking.

“Yes. It’s correct. There are no mistakes.”

I could hardly breathe. Within one week, we had a box office sales total of two hundred and ninety million dollars.

I was ecstatic! I had finally done it! I had created a story that people enjoyed, one people were touched by. My childhood dreams had become a reality, no matter how corny that sounds. I was so happy that I had finally accomplished something that I almost didn’t hear Mr. Bunson.

“Mr. Smith? I need those papers, so I may file them.”

I looked at the papers in my hands. In my excitement, I had crushed them. I handed them back to Mr. Bunson. “S-sorry.”

He smiled again. Was it just me, or did he smile a lot? It didn’t matter to me then. I was too happy myself. “It’s alright, Trent. However, I’m not so sure Jake feels the same way. You might want to talk to him.”

I snapped out of my euphoria. He was right. Jake seemed extremely angered that things didn’t go his way. “Um… With all due respect, sir, should you not be the one to talk to him? I mean, you are his father.”

Mr. Bunson turned away from me. I was suddenly unsure about myself. Perhaps I had hit on a sore spot, I thought. Suddenly, Mr. Bunson spoke. “Jake and I are not as… close as we used to be. Nor are we as close as I would like us to be.”

I stayed silent. A storywriter can tell when there is need for dialogue, and this was not it. This was the part that the reader learned more about the character’s thoughts and troubles. Of course, since this wasn’t a story, I just had to wait and listen.

Jake’s father sighed. “It was okay during college. What I mean to say is that, sure he didn’t talk to me as much, but I understood that. A college student is too busy with studying and partying to remember his parents. However, he told me after college that he was going to be a producer. I instantly knew that this was a terrible idea. Producers need to know how to, well, produce something the crowd will enjoy. Jake, however, cared nothing for the crowd. He had been rebelling against the public opinion for most of his life.”

Mr. Bunson turned to me. He looked much older now than he had when I first met him over two years ago. His faced seemed gaunt as he recalled for me, a friend of his son, the ghosts of his relationship with his child.

“He, of course, expected me to help him. He expected me to give him all the help I could because he was my son. I knew, however, that I couldn’t show favoritism, especially considering that the first three films he produced were horrible. There was no appeal in them whatsoever. I could not risk my job for the sake of my son. He had to be treated like everyone else. I knew that he would be angry and would feel betrayed. However, it was a lesson he had to learn. Now, he is angry because he assumes that I only let this script through for the money.”

Mr. Bunson sat down and clasped his hands together, as if he were praying for his son to see what was wrong on his own. “Trent, I need you to talk some sense into him. You are the only one he will listen to. I let the script through for two reasons. First, it was good. Secondly, I had hoped it would show him where he was wrong, but now he is running away blindly, refusing to open his eyes. If you could show him his mistakes, Mr. Smith,” he said, suddenly becoming formal, “your efforts would be much appreciated.”

I nodded. “I will try. For his sake.”

Again, Mr. Bunson smiled.

I left the building where the office was and glanced around. I sighed. “It seems,” I muttered to myself, reaching for my cell phone, “that I will be taking the cab home.”


 

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 6

Hm. If this is being posted, that’d be because I didn’t make it back home in time to write a legit post, like about how companies and industries need to seriously realize the internet is a serious force and medium (the topic I actually thought about writing yesterday before that video got posted).

I’ve been performing part 1 of the move, since I got the car back too late yesterday to bother with it then. On that note… I really hate packing.

Anyway, here’s the sixth part of that story I’ve been posting (The one I wrote in high school. I will continue to use that as an excuse for its quality. Also, I don’t feel like editing the story until I can do a proper rewrite. Reading through this one in glances… yeah, REALLY needs a rewrite. My bad.). Really, if you were interested in the rest, you could just use the search function for “Welcome To Hollywood.” Not terribly hard. I mean, neither is posting a link to at least the last part to get you on your way…

“It’s “Sunday Morning” on CBS, and here again is your host, Charles Osgood.”

After a wonderful breakfast of blueberry pancakes, which Tabitha had no qualms about cooking extras of, we all went to the den to watch “Sunday Morning” and see if our movie was on the show for a summary. Tabitha was sitting in my lap, my arms wrapped around her waist as I sat on the big recliner. Jake looked over at me from his seat on the couch and drew a tear down his pitifully fake sad face. I stuck out my tongue as if I were back in elementary school. We both laughed.

Tabitha reached behind and playfully hit me. “Now boys, behave. The show is on. Watch.”

We both went silent, grinning at each other. We then turned to watch the television. I pulled Tabitha back towards me so I had a better view.

Mr. Osgood, it seems, had already introduced the movie critic. I recognized the man, but I couldn’t remember his name. He was already talking, introducing the first movie. “Yesterday, a touch of painful realism swept through the movie theaters of America. The movie “Austin’s Story”, based off The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy”, hit theaters across the country with its limited release. Commercials for the movie gave a small glimpse of the pain of a hurting child. They were nothing in comparison to the shock that you got from watching the film. I went to see the movie myself. It is a beautifully laid out story, portraying perfectly what people in these situations would do.

In the story, Austin grew up, knowing another man as his father. His real father, a POW in Vietnam, finally makes it home seven years after he was presumed dead. Seeing his wife with another man, he kills the other man in a fight. This event begins the torment that will continue for the rest of Austin’s life. The trauma from seeing the man he thought was his father killed causes him to go blind and dumb. He is forced to live with his alcoholic molesting uncle, and endures the bullying Church Youth Group for all of six years before his mother takes him back to her house. All this torment sends Austin into his own personal hell. So, as to not spoil the movie, I will only tell you that it concludes with an unexpected twist. I would give the movie a hearty two thumbs up. For those that do not appreciate realism in their movies, this is one movie you’ll want to pass up. Now, this next movie we have seems pale in comparison to the first-”

I cut the television off with the remote. Jake and I looked at each other, success shining in our eyes. We grinned, silently congratulating each other. Tabitha looked back at us, a look of bemused wonder on her face. She probably wondered what had us so riled up.

Unfortunately, we were “riled up” for two different reasons. “Well, Jake. Seems our movie’s a success, old buddy.”

Jake’s smile disappeared. “Trent. It isn’t supposed to be a hit. It’s supposed to teach a lesson to everybody out there that real life isn’t as nice as people want it to be.”

My smile faltered. I was reluctant to go along with this whole martyrdom thing to begin with. I had worked my butt off to create a story that would reel people in, but still fit Jake’s requirement of “realism”, where the protagonist would ultimately fail. Tabitha had tried telling me that we could both find work later, but that wasn’t entirely true. I had no major skills. I was a writer. I couldn’t be a journalist, that wasn’t my type of thing. I could try being an author, but there was less of a chance that I would succeed in that job than there was if I stayed a scriptwriter. People read less and less in these times, waiting “for the movie to come out”. If there wasn’t a movie about it, it wasn’t worth reading. I would feel horrible having Tabitha go back through graduate school to get a real degree, or having her slave away at one of those cheap fast-food jobs, while I sat on my butt at home. I was about to give Jake a piece of my mind, but Tabitha knew me too well. She saw that I was about to give him an earful, so she cut me off.

“Hey, after the summary that guy gave, I’m really interested. How does it end?”

I shot her a small glare, but she looked back innocently. I sighed, and decided to answer her reply. “Well, his mother figures out that she should smash the mirror that Austin watched the murder through. He’s suddenly cured, but he still retains the effects of the turmoil of the previous 11 years of his life. He is suddenly viewed as a medical miracle, and everybody in the news business is after him. He refuses interview, so they nab his cousin, Kevin. You remember? The bully?”

She nodded. Jake decided to pick the story up where I left off. “Well, Austin hears Kevin’s bull about how he ‘always supported Austin’, and ‘was with Austin through and through’.” Jake made ditto marks in the air. “Remember, he wasn’t deaf. Unlike Tommy, Austin always heard everything. He recognized Kevin’s voice and flew at him in a rage.”

I cut him off to finish the tale. “Well, the crowd instantly sides with Kevin, yelling at Austin about how crazy he was, etcetera. Austin finally realizes that people change too haphazardly, and that he would never be able to figure them out. He had lived his life apart from the world, and he knew he could never fit in. So he ran off to the church, climbed up the bell tower, and, well…”

Jake piped in. “He jumped.”

Tabitha only blinked. Then her eyes went wide and sad. “Wow… That poor child! That’s so sad!” Her eyes teared up. “I would hurt those idiots! That makes me so mad! I just… Ooh!”

Chuckling lightly at her sudden transition from sadness to anger, I rubbed her back, while I marveled at my story’s ability to bring out such a wide range of passionate emotions from people.

Jake cleared his throat. When I turned toward him, he spoke. “You know, Trent, that was one of the things I never did really agree with in the story, but I let it stay to end it properly. You say that Austin saw how these people changed, how they couldn’t make up their minds. Well, that’s not true. People don’t change. That’s why I needed this movie to be made. Because people don’t change, and they only want to live in a stupid fantasy world, they refuse to see what real life is really like. They only want to see the good guy win. They don’t change.”

He sat back in his seat, finishing off his coffee from breakfast. I opened my mouth to argue, but I felt Tabitha grip my knee. I closed my mouth and looked up at her to see her shaking her head. I decided to keep silent.

Jake finished his coffee and set the mug on the table. He stood up, brushing his lap. “Well, Trent, I must be going. Suppose we drop by GG’s office this Saturday to see how the first week’s ticket sales went?” He smiled disarmingly.

Tabitha got off my lap, and then I stood up too. I went to Jake and shook his hand, patting his shoulder with my other hand. “That we can do, old friend.” I plastered a grin to my face.

Jake smiled back, and then addressed Tabitha. “I suppose I’ll see you later, eh, Tabby?” Only Jake and I were ever allowed to call her that.

Tabitha snorted. “You wish, Jake.” He mocked a look of hurt. She laughed and hugged him.

Jake smiled again, and opened the door. “Well, I’ll see you two lovebirds Saturday.” With that, he left, closing the door behind him. Tabitha went up and locked the door behind him.

I groaned as we heard him drive off. Tabitha hugged me from behind. “What’s wrong, love?”

I slid out of her embrace to face her. “It’s just…” I sighed. I walked towards the loveseat and sat in it. Tabitha followed me and sat beside me, leaning in and lying against me. I played with her hair as I explained my frustrations. “Well, Tabby… it’s just that I want this movie to be a success. I want to know that I actually did something right for once. That I wasn’t a total failure. But Jake… He wants to go out in flames and glory.”

I was reminded of an earlier conversation we had had, before I wrote the script. Then, I was complaining about how I was going write a script like that. Now, I was complaining about how I wanted to keep putting myself through the problems I had originally faced. I chuckled inwardly at the irony. “I mean, I don’t want to go against an old friend like that, but our interests for the movie are too dissimilar. I don’t want to be selfish, but… do you understand?”

Tabitha nodded slowly. “I understand, Trent.” She turned in, snuggling against my body. “Just don’t worry about it, hon.”

I sighed, still stroking her hair. Again, it was the public that had to decide our fate. I only hoped that, this time, they would be on my side.

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 5

Okay. So, my brain is currently resembling figgy pudding. Well, I assume as much. I’ve never had figgy pudding. Or seen it. But if it’s mushy, then my analogy stands.

Ergo, since I’m mushy-brained and since my attempted topic needs a bit more of a keen, focused mind (I’ll be making fun of politicians, so…), I’m giving another pause tonight and cheating by posting another part to my story.

I’ll make it better some day. I swear. …especially if people pay me to do so. …man, too bad I don’t have a PayPal button to point people to.

Anyways, parts one, two, three and four here. Let’s see how the movie does, shall we? This is the last short section.

Also, one other quick note… I apparently made Jake the executive producer originally. Really, I want him to be the director. When I edit this story and make it better, that will definitely change.

A couple hours later, the lights in the theater brightened once again as the credits rolled across the screen. Jake was watching the screen gleefully. “Yes! We did it! It was perfect! Hey, look Trent! There I am! Executive producer! Oh, and there you are! ‘Story written by’… that’s you, all right!”

He turned to look at me, shaking me by the shoulder. I brushed off his hand, not paying attention to him. I was more focused on the faces of the crowd. Many of them just sat there, staring at the screen in shock. Others left, whispering to each other furtively. I managed to catch some words from the louder ones. “Did you see that?” “Poor child… I would have hurt that idiot cousin of his!” “There had to be another way… Surely someone out there loved the boy. Was suicide really necessary?”

Jake finally stopped with his antics and remembered that we were there to see the reactions of the people that watched the movie with us. He looked at some of the faces and then turned to me. “So, what do you think?” He stood up and started to walk out.

I shrugged, walking after him. I had no clue what to think. I looked at the ground, worried that all our work had been done for naught.

Jake looked at me sideways. “You know, that show, “Sunday Morning”, with Charles Osgood?” He saw me nod, so he continued. “Well, it often does a synopsis for new B movies, and sometimes for a few blockbusters. They like to give a small summary, one that doesn’t give much away, to entice people, and then give it a small critique, normally only a few sentences. Definitely not Siskel and Ebert, but it’ll do. Let’s watch the show tomorrow. I bet ours will be on the show. I’ll drop by your house for breakfast, if Tabitha doesn’t mind?”

I grinned. “Of course she minds. But I think she can handle it.”

Jake put on a look of fake astonishment. “Why, Trent! You know that the women all love me!” He grinned.

I punched him in the shoulder. “Well this one’s mine, you loser.” Our good mood was obvious from our somewhat maniacal grins. We started to laugh as we walked out of the theater

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 4

Okay. So, tonight, there was a GOP debate, minus one Michele Bachmann. While I did look up some of what was said, I don’t feel like going into a huge rant about it all today. Besides, there were no major gaffes to laugh about this time (well, besides some of the candidates’ policies). So, I’ll just save that discussion for a later time, like tomorrow.

In the meantime, I continue my (amateurish and slightly ignorant high school) short story (that I will SO update one day). Parts 1, 2, and 3 here. This one is a bit short… and lacking the details of the film and writing process I hope to include one day. Hopefully, you will enjoy.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. After about two years of tedious studio work, Jake and I perfected the movie to fit the visions we both had. Jake worked especially hard on the project, as it was to be his legacy. If it went poorly, not only would he fail to deliver his message, but he would also look like a complete idiot. So he poured his very soul into making sure that the movie went flawlessly. Finally, it was finished and due to be released. We were waiting at the theater to get the first tickets in. You would assume that the scriptwriter and producer would get a discount or something for their own movie. Unfortunately, we still had to pay full price.

Jake tapped my shoulder. “Would you look at this, Trent? Seems those commercials we had did well.”

I nodded in agreement. I was pleasantly surprised, and Jake was as well, no doubt, by the number of people that had come to the debut of the movie. There were well over three hundred people at this screen alone, about three hundred fifty. Though three hundred fifty people at one screen doesn’t sound like much for the debut or limited release of a movie in Los Angeles, it was pretty good for a B movie. Taking into account that this was not the only theater in America showing our movie, I was willing to guess that it was having a decent turnout for its debut night. Nothing blockbuster, but definitely a big hit for one of our movies.

Jake had smuggled in some snacks and drinks for us. It’s all we could do, what with not getting a discount on the tickets. Have you seen the prices of candy at a theater? They’re outrageous! Maybe that was what our next movie could be about… if we were still around. Unfortunately, if Jake got what he wanted, that definitely wouldn’t happen.

Jake elbowed me in the ribs. “Hey, buddy. How many shocked looks and ‘Oh, my God!’s do you think we’ll have at the end of this?”

I nudged him back, and turned to look at him. “Shh! Don’t spoil anything for the common people!” I grinned. The lights dimmed in the theater, and the traditional messages telling us not to litter and to drink Pepsi came on.

I turned away from him to look at the screen. As the theater darkened further, I wondered how the movie turned out. Despite Jake’s wishes, I secretly hoped for a successful film. But I suspected, as the movie started, that would be too much to ask for…

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 3

Okay. So, timing caused by waking up at 5 a.m., driving to Tuscaloosa for a job interview, driving back and going almost immediately to work until about an hour ago means that I can’t write a legitimate post tonight.

My bad.

So, as always, I turn you to something I already wrote, which is in this case the somewhat juvenile high school short story I wrote. One day, I’ll clean it up. Delve deeper and get more informed with how movies are actually made. And how people actually talk. Some of this dialogue is kinda crappy.

And when I’m 40 and an accomplished playwright/journalist, I will look at the stuff I’m writing now and burn it all. Anyway, you can find part 1 and part 2 in these nifty links I’ve left you. Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll have a post about the political presidential field as it currently stands.

In about a week and a half of working almost nonstop, I had finished the script. Tabitha had to practically force-feed me my meals to get me to eat anything at all. I contacted Jake after I finished the script to my liking. He cleared the copyrights and sent my script through editing. Finally, we were ready for production. There was only one obstacle remaining.

In the movie business, to get a movie made takes years of work. To get the movie started takes about half of a year. Most of that is finding actors to play parts. However, out of that two and a half plus years, the entirety of a script’s success boils down to about a week and a day. The week after release that shows how much money you gained in box office sales, and the one day that the scriptwriter and the producer meet up with the Greenlight Guy. That day was the most important for all scripts. If it does not proceed properly, the script can never become a film.

Today was that day. The day scriptwriters dreaded, for fear of failure haunted them. The Greenlight Guy, as his name implies, is the one that determines if your script will become a movie or not. He gives it the “green light”. Original, huh? When Jake told me he was taking us for a visit to the GG of Miramax Films, I almost had a heart attack.

“You’re what? Miramax? How in God’s name are we going to get a big name company to even consider a couple of failures like us? Miramax is the biggest B film company out there!”

We were inside Jake’s car, already on the way. Of course he would wait until I couldn’t run away to tell me something like this.

He flashed one of his prize-winning grins, eyes still on the road. “Don’t worry so much, Trent! Let’s just say I… know someone.” His smile was suddenly gone and replaced with a look I couldn’t put a name to.

We arrived at the studios and told the receptionist that we were waiting to speak to the Greenlight Guy. She buzzed him and informed him of our presence. “Mr. Bunson will see you now.”

I did a double take and stared at Jake. “Mr. Bunson?”

At this point, the doors had swung open, and Jake was walking in, staring straight ahead of him. We walked up to a large oak desk, where Miramax’s GG sat, turned towards the window. “Why, hello Jake.” He turned around and smiled.

Jake stiffened up and nodded curtly. “Father.”

I stared at the GG and then at Jake. “Miramax’s GG is your dad? Why didn’t you say so?”

Jake sighed. “Just because I’m his son doesn’t mean I get a free ride.” The edge in his voice made me assume that he’d been rejected by his father before. Jake with his one-track mind would think only of the rejection, not of the fact that his movies bombed anyways. Knowing Jake and his passion for his job, that’s probably why he was so angry with his father.

I looked at Jake’s father now. He seemed to be around his early fifties. His hair was graying, and to say that he had a receding hairline was an understatement. He reminded me of a slightly pudgy Patrick Stewart.

He smiled. “That’s exactly right. The same goes for you, Mr. Smith.” He looked at me. “I presume you have the script with you?”

I gulped and nodded. “Yes sir.” I handed him the thick pile of papers. He glanced through them.

“Come back in three days. I’ll have this finished and considered by then.”

I looked at the GG. “Uh, sir, are you sure? I could just tell you-”

He waved his hand, cutting me off. “I’m sure that I will gain a better understanding of the movie if I read the script. Besides, I don’t want you to get nervous and forget something, do I?” He smiled again. “Now, I’m sure you two boys have better things to be doing.” He looked at Jake for a while, and then continued. “In three days, be back here and I’ll have my verdict.”

Jake didn’t even look at him. “Yes sir. Three days.” He then turned and walked out of the room. I stayed a while staring at his back. When I turned to glance at the GG, he was already turned away from me, reading the first page of the script. I hurried out after Jake.

By the time I arrived, Jake was sitting in the car, waiting for me. I got in and sat down silently as he revved the engine. We drove for about five miles in silence before I asked the question.

“If you’re mad at your father for something, why-”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” He gripped the steering wheel tightly. I immediately clamped my mouth shut.

He sighed. “Sorry. It’s something I don’t talk about often.” He then grinned. “Tell you what. After the first week of the movie, I’ll tell you, okay?”

I smiled nervously. “Sure, old bud.”

Three days later, I left my house, giving Tabitha a quick kiss. “Good luck, darling,” Tabby said.    I just smiled and rushed to Jake where he was sitting in his car in front of my house.

Jake looked at me. “Ready to go, old sport?”

I snorted. “Of course not. Just take us there.”

He grinned. “Yes, your majesty.”

I gave a friendly punch to his shoulder. Then we were off, driving down the path to our destiny. Well, my script’s destiny. Fortunately, I never put anything that cheesy in the script. Otherwise we’d never have a chance.

We arrived at the studios. The receptionist again informed Mr. Bunson of our presence, and we were allowed entry. We stood in front of the oak desk once again, awaiting Mr. Bunson’s decision.

Mr. Bunson cleared his throat. “Well gentleman, after reviewing the script…” He paused for dramatic effect, just as all GG’s love to do. “Well, I must say, it was quite different. I suppose, Jake, that this script’s rebellious nature was your idea?”

Jake said nothing.

“Well, not that it matters. At any rate, I think it’s a great story. However, the ending is definitely not the typical style for the movies that the public largely enjoys today. Normally, this means I’d cut it.”

I held my breath. Using normally means there’s a catch.

“However…”

I knew it! He’s going to cut us a deal!

He turned to Jake. “Jake. I’m willing to let this movie through into Miramax films on one condition. You put two hundred thousand dollars of your own money into this project. And if the movie fails, you must never produce again.”

I looked at Jake. The money was the only thing I worried about. The old man assumed that this movie was meant to bring Jake back up in the ranks.

Jake suddenly smiled. “You have yourself a deal, old man.”

I sighed in relief. It was finally time to start making the movie. We signed the necessary papers and were about to leave when Jake turned around.

“You made a mistake pops. You assumed I cared about making this movie a success. I’m going to make this movie my legacy. With this movie, I’ll shock the nation into an uproar, everyone vehemently disagreeing with the fact that it’s too realistic. Too tragic. This movie will make me a martyr. I’m going to let my career die with the age of realism. This movie is my last will and testament. And that’s where you assumed wrong.”

Jake then curtly turned around and left the room. I waited to see Mr. Bunson’s reaction, but he only smiled at me. Once again, I was left chasing after Jake.

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 2

Okay. Apparently, there’s some Iowa caucus thingy going on tonight. Whatever. I’m sure it’s completely unimportant, even if Jon Stewart has something to say about it.

Instead of something about random political trivialities (something I’d never subject you to… …yeah…), I’ve decided to go ahead and give you all the second part of my multi-part high school story that really needs some rewriting and beefing up. This is all mostly unedited, but giving simple glances I notice rather amateur mistakes that even my high school self should have been rather ashamed of. But, hey. He once turned in a 12 page report on “Lord of the Flies” that randomly used the word “shoe” instead of “show” once. What a loser that kid was, amirite?

…Ahem. At any rate, we continue on with Trent Smith the writer and his struggles. Please ignore how often he and his wife call each other love. …man, this needs some serious rewriting. Still, solid basis… I like to think. Enjoy.

I stepped up the small rise that led from my concrete porch into my home. “Tabby? I’m home, love.” I shut the red door behind me. Walking in, I tossed my jacket from my shoulder to the table in the carpeted den and sat in the huge brown leather La-Z-Boy next to it. I closed my eyes and leaned back. Suddenly I felt someone’s lips intruding on mine. I grabbed my wife’s waist and pulled her onto my lap, kissing her gently.

“So, love. What did Jake do to make you so tense as to forget dinner?” Tabitha inquired.

I sniffed the air and suddenly grabbed a hint of that tangy smell that emanated from greasy hamburger meat. “Hamburger Helper, love? You shouldn’t have.” I picked her up off my lap, allowing me to stand up. I gave her a light kiss on the lips and then looked into her eyes. With a childish grin I said, “Let’s eat!” and rushed off to the table. She gave a lopsided smile and shook her head at my childish antics, following me into the kitchen.

After we finished eating the greasy feast, I performed the time-honored tradition of putting my dishes in the sink to be washed and sitting down in front of the TV. I flipped on the junk box and immediately hit the mute button. I had a quirk of watching TV in silence. The clamor of noise from the television interrupted my need for the serenity in the house. Washing the pan in the sink, Tabby leaned toward the cutout between the den and the kitchen. “So, what happened at your meeting with Jake?”

I suddenly remembered the great burden I had been given during that conference with my old friend. I was supposed to make a story for him that would intentionally fail. It couldn’t be one of those stupid “Giant Mantis Preys On New York” movies. Those are the type of movies you go to for the sole purpose of making out with your girlfriend in the back of the theater. No, it had to be a great movie. Just a great movie that people wouldn’t like because it was too crude and too… too what? Too much of the downsides of life? No one wants to be reminded about that side of life. That’s why they go to watch these Disney movies. To be ignorantly happy. Dan Rather spoke to me on the television screen as I stared. His words became little white letters on the bottom of the screen for my benefit, his mouth moving soundlessly like a marionette, a puppet with his strings drawn by the public. Even Rather was vulnerable. He’d made his mistake and now he was going to have to go. If it could happen to him, it could happen to me in a heartbeat.

Worried by my lack of response, Tabby turned off the faucet. “Trent?” She walked into the den, drying her hands on a dishtowel. Tossing it onto her shoulder, she sat on the arm of the chair, encircling my torso with her arms, hugging my head closely to her body as I stared ahead in deep thought.

“Talk to me, love. What’s got you so troubled?” She laid her head on top of mine as if trying to hear my thoughts.

Taking in a sharp breath, I snapped out of my reverie with a jolt. Tabby sat back up, arm draped on my shoulder, looking at me, worried. I rubbed her back and briefly explained as well as I could what was going on. “Tabby, Jake’s got me writing the script for a movie idea he’s had. The movie idea isn’t something like characters and a plot. It’s more of an ideal. He wants me to write a story with almost frighteningly perfect character development. A story with a character you can feel. And then he wants me to have the character you’ve grown to love fail. Die trying. Whatever. Basically, he wants this to be his legacy, his path to martyrdom. He teaches America a lesson as he leaves the movie biz in flames. And I have no clue where to begin.”

She looked at me with sympathy in her eyes and kissed me on the top of the head. “I’m sure you’ll do fine, love. Just don’t give up on yourself. And please, don’t worry about making another failed movie. We can handle it if you lose your job. Both of us are well rounded enough to get jobs pretty easily if you do end up having to leave the movie business. You just need to relax. I’ll put on your favorite mix CD.” She got up and walked over to the entertainment center beside the television. She put a CD into the player and pressed play. She turned to me as the first song started to play and smiled encouragingly before retreating back into her territory.

I sat staring at the television screen as numerous songs played, each old song melding into a new one. “Help Me Rhonda”… “Hey Jude”… “Goodnight”… “Leader of the Pack” almost gave me something, but it wasn’t quite there. At this point, Tabby had finished the dishes and was going to bed. We always ate supper rather late. I was about to head after her when one of my personal favorites started playing. I decided to hum along with the notes, speaking with the lyrics. “Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all. But I ain’t seen nothing like him in any amusement hall. That deaf, dumb and blind kid… Sure plays a mean pinball!”

As The Who started into the second verse, I stopped and thought about the lyrics I’d just recited. I’d never really thought much of them before, but what disease would one have to get to go deaf, dumb, and blind? Suddenly I remembered… “Pinball Wizard” was one of many songs in the rock opera “Tommy”, a hit The Who made a long time back. As I recalled the plot of “Tommy”, my eyes lit up with a sudden inspiration. I had my story. I rushed into the study room where my computer sat, screen glowing. As I slid into the seat, I opened my word processor and started to type feverishly. The last thought I had before becoming totally immersed in my story was, “Good thing copyright infringements aren’t in my department… Though Jake won’t like the extra work.” I grinned. I had found my prey.

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From The Inkwell – “Welcome To Hollywood” Part 1

Okay. I may be back in town, but considering I’m working a 1 to 10 tonight (so, I’m actually at work when this will be posted… time travel is so weird) and that I’m going to go to Tuscaloosa tomorrow, I’m not going to do a big ol’ special post. I’m just going to cop out once more and give you something I wrote a long time ago.

The last time I used this segment (so, you know… two days ago), I gave some examples of my high school days poetry and mentioned a junior year creative writing class. Well, this will hearken back to that. See, we also had to write a short story in the class. While most people wrote a page or two, I wrote out a 36-page story that was only 36 pages because I was actively trying to slow myself down and stop.

Yeah.

This is a story I hope to one day go back and make better, more rich and more like the story I know it could be. …more accurate, too, since I know my knowledge of how movie making works is probably hugely incorrect. But the story (which I will post in segments, don’t worry) essentially became a mix of the basic plot of “The Producers,” “Let’s make a flop” (though I cut out the “to make big bucks” part), and the plot of the rock opera “Tommy” by The Who. Though I didn’t write out that segment even a little bit at all like I wanted to. Again, actively slowing myself down. Add in a rant I’ve actually had about some films today, and you’ve got “Welcome To Hollywood.” Again, written by a high schooler, so not as good as it should be.

And now, without further ado… here it is. “Chapter” 1.

“I’m sick and tired of movies today! They don’t show enough of the real world to people!”

I sighed, putting my head in my hands, frustrated with my partner, who was ranting about crappy cinematic diversity.

Maybe I should explain what’s going on. My name is Trent Smith. Like my last name implies, I’m pretty much an average guy. I’m a freelance scriptwriter, currently teamed up with my old college buddy Jake Bunson, a movie producer. We’re two non-descript guys, not very well known in the business. I’ve written two scripts that have been made into films, if you can even call them that. They were both huge flops. Jake has directed three movies, which also bombed. This next film is our last chance. We both figured if we were going to kill our careers, we should do it together, for old time’s sake. Right now, we’re both brainstorming for ideas. Well, not quite. Actually, I’m sitting at the conference table rubbing my temples, while Jake is pacing up and down, yanking at his dirty-blond hair.

“Trent, America today has been raised on idiotic Disney movies and so-called ‘true stories’,” he said, making ditto marks in the air. “There’s not a movie out there where the bad guy wins!”

I looked up at him disdainfully. “So?”

He stared at me. “‘So’? What’d’ya mean, ‘so’?”

I stood up, putting my hands on the table. “Jake, you know why movies are like that? Because that’s what they want!”

By “they” we both knew I meant the American masses. It’s their mob mentality that dictates which authors succeed, which restaurants go out of business, and which idiot will be sitting around with the power to screw the nation over with another pointless war. If we wanted to keep our careers, we had to control this mass of people. Easier said than done.

Jake stopped and turned to me, a glint in his eyes. I knew then that he was going to lecture me on his opinions nine ways from Sunday.

“Trent, Trent, Trent. What you don’t seem to realize is that the public always wants something. Doesn’t mean it’s right! What we need to do is teach America a lesson they won’t forget. A lesson about how cruel and how harsh reality can be. Sure, they see things on the news about murders and such, but they really don’t ever care about it. Why? Because they don’t know the person that got offed. These Disney movies that are ‘based off a true story’? You meet the main character, you get to know him well, you get to like and sympathize with him. And you know from the moment you meet him that he will succeed in whatever it is he’s going to be doing.” Jake threw his hands up in exasperation. Even though he paused, I knew to remain silent. He continued. “What these people don’t realize is that tragedy happens! There’s a guy that everybody’s heard of, everybody loves – that Shakespeare character. He knew about tragedy. Read Macbeth. Read Hamlet. Read Othello. That’s tragedy. Shakespeare sets these characters up, you get to know them well, sometimes even sympathize with their characters and BAM!” He clapped his hands for effect. “They die! At the end of the play, they’re dead! Like Romeo and Juliet, man! You pity those two kids. You feel the love they have for each other, and at the end of the play? They both die. Well! Everybody’s crying now! That’s real life! People die, sometimes even the good guys. And that’s the lesson the American public needs to be taught. That’s real life, not sugar cakes and roses for everybody.”

Jake stopped talking and grabbed a glass of water sitting on the table. He took a large swig.

I waited until he swallowed. “You done?”

He put the glass back on the table and sat in a chair, propping his feet up. “For now.” He grinned at me.

I sighed. I sighed mostly in defeat because I knew that he had an excellent point. I knew that there was no way I was getting out of this.

Damn you, Bill Shakespeare.

I looked at Jake. “Okay. Do you have a story idea, then?”

He closed his eyes, breathed in deeply, and smiled. “Why, Trent, old buddy. Of course not! That’s the job of the scriptwriter. You have the vision for the film. I just make it happen.” He stood up and turned away from me. “Which is why I need your support, Trent. I can’t make this movie without you. I need someone that can understand exactly what I want and put that on paper.” He sighed. “I’ll be frank, pal. This movie is not meant to succeed. We both know that the public goes for what it wants and trashes the rest. I feel that this movie will make us martyrs for this cause, for this long needed lesson delivered through the story you write.” He turned to face me. “So. Can you, will you do it?”

I sat back down in my chair, my knees weak. I put my face down into my cupped hands, and then drug it back up, staring up at him. “I can try.”

Jake pumped his fist in the air in victory. He walked over to me and grabbed one hand, shaking it vigorously. “We have an accord, old buddy.” He walked out of the conference room with a bit of a spring in his step.

Damn you to hell.

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