The Devil in the Details

[2017 – Challenge 2!  Comedy, set in a studio apartment, involving a typewriter.]

 

Homer knows he is destined to be a Great Author.
His first assignment will be to write his own fate.


 

Homer set the used Selectric on the floor above his head, then climbed up carefully to join it. The studio’s loft was intended as a bedroom, but Homer had transformed it into a study. It had been a lot of work getting the bookcases and filing cabinets up there, but he was sure that was the way Hemingway would have done it. All truly great authors had to have a special place for writing.  Thoreau had a whole cabin in the woods.

He placed the typewriter in the center of the desk, adjusting it so that it was precisely parallel to the edge. The worn chair let out a soft thhhbbbbbt! as his weight pushed the air from the cushion. Settling his pipe in an ornate ashtray, he tilted the decanter of Glenlivet into a Waterford whisky glass and paused to admire his Writer’s Workspace. Typewriter, paper, meerschaum, and amber-filled crystal were laid out perfectly. He’d take his back-cover photo here, one arm resting casually along the edge of the desk, with the corner of the typewriter peeking out from behind his shoulder.

Homer settled his fingers on the keys and began to type:

It was a dark and stormy night

It had been a sunny day, but as Homer typed, the room was filled with the sound of water pounding on his roof. The universe was cooperating, setting the atmosphere – another Sign that he was meant to be a Great Author, not just an underutilized waiter.

Homer tap-tap-tapped the keys:

“So, your finally here,” Moira said in a horse voice.

Homer’s thoughts were interrupted by a clomping noise, and he cursed the neighbors who constantly trampled up and down the stairwell.

“Now Moira,” Dylan intoned, “there’s no use crying over spilt milk…”

“You sent me on a wild goose chase!”

A honking and fluttering from the living room drew Homer’s attention from the page just in time to see a huge brown and black bird flutter up onto the loft’s railing.

“How did you get in here?!” He leaned over the railing to see if his windows were open, and found himself staring into a pair of velvety equine nostrils.

He gaped at the horse for a moment, then turned to look at the goose still perched on the railing. He snatched his phone from the desktop and googled “horse voice.”

“Oh – h-o-a…”

But – the horse…Impossible! Could it be…? He pounded at the keys.

“Moira, you can’t ignore the elepha

“What am I thinking!” Homer tapped the Selectric’s CorrectKey, whiting out the unfinished word. He paused, then erased the entire sentence.

“Spill the beans, Moira.”

Homer turned toward the sound of tiny objects falling onto linoleum. A nondescript woman with blurry facial features stood in his kitchenette, exclaiming melodramatically over the pile of pinto beans at her feet.

“Moira!”

“Dylan?” The woman looked up at him and began to wail.

Homer rushed to her side. At the bottom of the ladder, he found himself trapped by the horse who, it turned out, occupied almost all of the carpeted living space. Homer edged along the wall and ducked under the horse’s neck. His feet skidded out from under him as he reached the linoleum. He landed in a huddled lump, one eye staring at the pile of pinto beans at Moira’s feet while the other peered through a milky puddle. Moira screamed theatrically as the horse nuzzled Homer’s face, rubbing horse-snot on his cheek.

When Homer felt sure the horse wasn’t going to bite him, he grabbed hold of its mane and used it to steady himself as he rose to his feet. He looked from the horse’s flaring nostrils to Moira and her beans, trying to decide what to do.

“I’m a writer!  I’ll write my way out, of course!”

He made his way cautiously back to the loft, his relieved sigh almost drowning out the whoopee-cushion sound of the chair. The goose stepped over to a bookshelf and glared at him as he tapped out a brilliant story in which Moira, riding her horse in Central Park, met a millionaire named Dylan who married her – and paid for her to have plastic surgery.

The wailing faded as the horse clomped out the door.

Homer didn’t know anything about geese, so he figured it would be easier to just herd the thing out of the apartment. An hour later, his shins and forearms covered in small, bloody beak-marks, he slammed the door behind the stupid bird. Who knew geese were so hostile?

He surveyed his apartment.  Apparently, the horse had walked over the coffee table, and left a steaming pile of horse-apples behind. The kitchen floor was covered in milk-and-bean soup. Goose poop dripped from the balcony rail onto the back of the sofa, and his clothes were in tatters.

He cleaned up the messes, dragged the broken furniture to the sidewalk, threw away the shredded clothes, and showered off the blood – then returned to the loft, his hair dripping little puddles as he settled into his flatulating chair and aligned a fresh sheet of paper in the roller.

The beautiful, doe-eyed starlet tapped hesitantly on the world-renowned author’s door, waiting breathlessly for a response. The door opened, and he smiled.

“Well,” said Homer, “speak of the devil!”

Homer rushed down to answer the knock at his door. A forbiddingly handsome man with a doe-eyed starlet on his arm smiled back at him, displaying a disconcerting number of pointy teeth.

“Homer, dear boy. I’ve been waiting for your call.”

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