Fiction: Ideas, Unlimited

December 8, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

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By

Stephen Faulkner

 

 

 

  Good morning, Kaufer. You got here pretty quickly, I see.

  Your merchandise is always good, Sevento. You call to say you have a new batch to show me, so I come.

  Excellent quality as always. You’ll be especially pleased this time, I assure you.

  So you always say. It’s your standard line. But then I could use a bit of pleasing today.

  Business bad?

  Just slow enough to give me time enough to waste here, listening to you talk, Sevento. Time is money and I’m not as rich as you seem to think I am. Just show me what you have.

  You know the way of things here, old friend. We’ve been dealing with one another long enough. You tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll try to fit what I have to your needs. A word is all I need, a phrase, just something to work with.

   This is always the part that gives me trouble. It’s so hard to say….

   Well, is it for yourself or a client?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          2.

 

   This is business. A client expressed interest in – and he wasn’t too clear on the matter at all – something to do with political upheaval, I think. “Presidents and ministers of state in a death struggle of nations” is how he put it. To paraphrase him, though. Had to eke it out of him, word for word, almost.

  Nations…. Presidents…. Ministers…. Struggle…. Political upheaval….

I love the way you always break things down to their basics, Sevento. All nouns, nothing else. Verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, all thrown out the window. You could construct your own language if you wanted to. Seventian Speech, you could call it. Introduce it on the streets as a pro-drug pamphlet and the kids’ll be rapping nothing but nouns all over the place, wherever you stop to listen. All you’d need would be a way to market it and you could name your own price times ten.

   That one was in the last batch I showed you, if you’ll recall, Kaufer. It was given a different title than that but all the rest was the same. A language without verbs. You poo-poohed it as being too crazy. But let’s concentrate on your client’s request, shall we?

   Yes, let’s. You’ve been flipping through your little stack of cards all the time we’ve been sitting here flapping our gums. Anything promising?

   Maybe. You didn’t give me a lot to work with, you know.

   You say that every time and every time you’ve come up with at least something. So tell me, then, what do you have?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          3.

 

   One or two, one or two. Keep your pants on and let me see. Say let’s try this one and that and…and…and this one here. Start with these three, all right?

   Fine, whatever you say. Just read to me, I’m listening.

   All right. Hmm. Number One is this: “Thesis putting forth the theory that….”

   Uh-uh! Stop right there. Theory? Theories are much too hard a sell and you know they rarely fly. I’m not sure I want to open up that kind of worm can.

   Imagination, man! Where’s your imagination? Here it’s a theory and the fellow suggesting it is quite well respected in his field. But who’s to say that the word “theory” or “hypothesis” or anything that even smacks of unsureness has to show up in any of the publicity or promo copy? See what I’m getting at?

   You mean say it’s a fact when it’s really only a theory? Sevento, I’m surprised at you. That’s out and out dishonest.

   Then call it fiction, if you want. All you need then is a rewrite to patch in the requisite dialogue and sex, spice up the hum-drum prose. You’re an old hand at all this. You know what’s necessary to make it work.

   I see what you mean. You know, that’s been my failing in the past, my lack of vision. You’re long winded sometimes, Sevento, but you never fail to come up with the goods. And I can always count on you for helpful advice.

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          4.

 

   Just my job, Kaufer. See what other people can’t, that’s my business and motto. You want to hear the rest of this?

   Yes, please. Now you’ve got me interested. What is this guy’s theory?

   “…theory that Joshua’s Biblical “shout” which brought down the walls of Jericho was, in actuality, the timely arrival on Earth of a piece of a passing comet which destroyed the city and its impregnable walls.”

   Rather wordy for a simple outline.

  I guess he figured anything less would just be an Enquirer headline. Anyway, you get the idea. So tell me, is it a seller or isn’t it?

  I don’t know…. Bible, Jews, antiquity, religious mythology…. Jews have been something of a case of overkill the last few years with all the Holocaust stuff coming out. Know what I mean?

  I think I do but we shouldn’t be too hasty. The market is there, and a proven one, overkill or not. Your client Jewish?

   Not unless he’s an Irish Jew. Name’s O’Grady – Laszlo O’Grady. About forty or so, beefy faced guy, built like a barrel. Four martini lunches, nervous as a trapped cat. Prime candidate for a killer thrombosis before he hits fifty. I try to talk to him but why should he listen? Worries the hell out of me, that guy, I’ll tell you.

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          5.

 

   Uh-huh, I see. Let’s play it safe and put this one aside. We’ll talk some more about it later if neither of the other two strike you as what he might want.

   Fine by me. What’s the second?

   An abstract, no straight outline. Has a few of the elements you’re looking for, though.

  No prologues, Sevento. Just let’s hear it.

    “In the time it takes to tell it, you’ve lived it, died for it, made it your own. Someone has been killed for it, another has wept over it. It is not important in any solid sense and yet within it it holds the essence of life, power, tragedy, gain and loss. To have it is to wonder, to have once had it and lost it is to surrender your very being.”

  Huh? That’s it?

   Yep. All that’s here, that is.

  Author well known or a nobody?

   Less than a nobody, completely anonymous. This one came in without any cover letter, no return address on the envelope. Just these four sentences, neatly typed. Seems pretty wide ranging. “It” could be just about anything.

   Almost sounds like a middle passage in some obscure religious tract. The “it” would probably have been defined in an earlier section. Would be nice to see the whole thing.

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          6.

 

   I see “it” as a symbol, myself. The abuse of power. “Someone has been killed for it, another has wept over it.” Makes sense to me that way, when you think of power, killing to acquire it, weeping when it’s been used against you.

   No, no, you have it all wrong. It’s religion. “Live it, die for it, make it your own” and “to have once had it and lost it is to surrender your….” Your what? Sanity? No, “being,” you said. Surrender your being. Well, that’s the whole magilla right there, what he’s talking about. An overall description of religious fervor, I’d say. But it’s all too iffily put, too damned broad.

   Even for a semi-philosophical piece? I read something by one of your people that was pretty way out and it flew with flying colors. Got magazine cover lines and everything.

   You’re thinking of the old “Angelis” series a few years back. Angels in the White House, good ones and bad ones, sitting on the shoulder of the Vice President, telling him what to do, his moral struggle with the one on the left against the one on the right, made it sound like something political. Magazine articles, those. But my client now is aiming for book length, possible movie tie-in, maybe even a multi-media event or a black tie affair to kick the whole thing off. Then tee-shirts, toys, comic books, cartoons, logos on everything imaginable. This one could be a real coup for me if I can lock it all down. All I need is a workable hook, just something to start with.

  If the idea appeals, why not go with it? The guy who did the Angelis series – Fauster, wasn’t it? – was pretty good at cranking out that sort of crap.

  If you’re suggesting that I get Fauster to do any work for me at all, you can just forget it.

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          7.

 

   Why? He was good at what he did. A little flaky, I’ll admit, but what the hell?

  Because you didn’t have him sitting in your office for two interminable weeks, making himself at home. It was weird. He never got up from his desk while he worked on the thing, kept a bucket at his feet to piss in when he had to and don’t ask me how he held his bowels for all that time. Banged out the whole five part series – brilliant drivel – in two weeks flat, Saturdays and Sundays included, and all the time from about the fourth day on, I watched him sucking down nothing but Twinkies, coffee, pizza and No-Doz. I was just waiting for his gut to explode. He smoked like a chimney, never took a shit, always had this burnt-out glaze in his eyes that scared me silly. He was on staff, had come with excellent references and the “Angelis” thing was his first big assignment, one of the little “inspirations” I’d bought from you that year. As soon as the thing was in the can and sold, I fired his fat butt out of my office just so I could have some peace of mind.

   I know all about that, Kaufer. I didn’t see you for more than three months after that. Your secretary made some excuse about a vacation, and then later it was doctor appointments, dentist appointments, personal days, sick days. You really had me worried.

   I know I did and I’ m sorry. It’s just that I get so involved. Businessmen aren’t supposed to have a heart and there I went, coming close to a crack-up over some…some nutcake with constipation who thought he was writing the world’s great truth or something.

   Well, it’s all over with now. In the past. But tell me, have you heard from him since then, what he’s up to?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          8.

 

   Only indirectly. He’s in Saint Louis somewhere, doing ad copy for some schlock outfit. You know, cow manure and feed seed kind of stuff. Still telling himself the devil made me can him, I’m sure. It was just that he got me so worked up, you know? Watching him kill himself with his tunnel vision intensity. Wish I could explain that to him, but even if I could find him and sit him down for a real heart-to-heart, I doubt if I could make him understand. Real piece of work, that guy, a real….  I don’t know. Hmpf!  Well, water under the bridge and over the dam, right?

  Right. And you? You okay now?

   Yeah, sure. Look at me, will you? Getting all nostalgic about that weirdo. Eeesh! All right then, enough of that. Let’s get on with business, then, okay? What more do you have for me? I see you shuffling those three cards there like you’re a monty dealer looking for a pigeon. What’s it about? Whatcha got?

   Something a little closer to your criteria this time, I think. It’s got power and politics from more of a, let’s say more of a radical labor angle than the other two.

  Radical? Wait a minute, Sevento, I’m not sure….

  Well maybe radical is too harsh a word. More like a “push the envelope” sort of thing. Though I never really understood what push the envelope referred to. Strange saying, Isn’t it? Anyway, this stuff is more like… like hardcore unionspeak, if you get what I mean.

   Unionspeak? You mean “Workers of the world unite” kind of stuff?  “No contract, no peace”?  Strike talk and like that?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          9.

 

   Not quite. Different approach altogether.

   What then? Big Brother stuff? Come on, Sevento, don’t dally. Time is money and I’m already down to today’s last nickel.

   All right. Here’s the first: “Death to the liberators. We will not abdicate our right to be led.”

  Slogans, huh? Should be short and sweet, then, shouldn’t they? Never mind, it’s catchy. Go on.

  “We are happiest when our chains are cold on our wrists, our shackles rusting with age against our skin.”

  Still a little lengthy, but I like it.

   “Freedom is a jail. Let our prison walls be ones that we can see.”

  That’s the three of them, right? Death to liberators, cold chains, freedom is a jail. That’s all?

   Yep, the whole thing.

   Hmm. A bit odd, but short and to the point. Let me think a minute.

  I don’t think you’ll have to take too long.

   “Freedom is a jail. Let the prison walls be ones we can see…” Wild, just wild. Has any of this been copyrighted before? Is the author available?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          10.

 

   You mean you think your client will buy it? I considered this a reach but I thought I’d give it a try. To be honest, though, I never thought you’d….

   Don’t think, Sevento, m’boy, just make out the paperwork. Sale made. The usual price?

   But I thought your client was looking for heads of state, political struggle, nations in conflict, that sort of thing.

   This slogan stuff is too good to let slide. I’ll talk my client into it, don’t worry. Just tell me this: is the writer flexible?

   In what way?

   Oh, say to turn this dreck into a novel, a movie, a possible series for prime time. You know, the whole shootin’ match. What do you think? Is he able to pull it all together?

   I don’t know. This thing was all unsolicited. The guy’s a complete unknown quantity, even to me.

   Contact him, find out. Then set the deal so my firm can work with you on it. But I don’t want to have to contend with him, whoever he is. “We are happiest when our chains are cold on our wrists.” Heh. It’s nutty, but I like it. Like it, but don’t want him in my office. One Fauster was enough. If the guy’s willing to work with us, if he writes, let him write at home. If not, set the terms with him for transfer of rights so we can get started. I’ll clear the whole thing with my client. He doesn’t know what the hell he really wants anyway so he’ll be easy to convince. We square?

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          11.

 

   Yes, Kaufer. Consider the wheels already turning.

   Thank you, Sevento. What’s it been this time, about a half hour? Short time for what we’ve accomplished, eh?

   Whatever you say, old friend. I only hope that this fellow’s as easy a play as you seem to think.

  I may not know people too well, Sevento, but I know human nature. We’re not co-opting him or anything, just employing a little healthy, profitable brain-picking. I’m just glad I don’t have to talk to the guy. Well, you know me on that score.

   Yes, Kaufer, I think I do.

  All it would take would be a handshake, a few words and I’d be all his, Twinkies, pizza, piss pot, wild eyes and all. I couldn’t go through that again, Sevento. Just couldn’t.

   This one will be different. Probably is. How many Fausters are there in the world? This slogan writer’s probably just a nice ordinary fellow with a few ideas he’d like to see kicked around.

  Probably, but I’m not taking any chances. My stomach couldn’t handle it. My client’s bad enough to have to deal with. Have I told you about him? O’Grady?

   Not much. Beef eater, on the heavy side, martinis for lunch, forty or so, heart disease down the road for him. Have I missed anything?

  You wouldn’t believe.

 

 

Ideas, Unlimited          12.

 

  Be glad to listen. But before you start, would you care to lie down? I have the couch all ready for you in the next room.

   The way I like it?

   As always, Kaufer. Silk sheets, shag pillows, vibrator at the side and the heating mechanism is already warming up.

   Ah, sounds wonderful. I feel rested already. And the company?

   Just a phone call and Miss Castor will be here in just a few minutes.

   Miss Castor? The redhead? Green eyes and sweet freckles all over? Bust and butt like twins in size and firmness?

   The very one. Shall I call?

  By all means, Sevento, by all means. Ah, my old friend, you are so good to me.

  Just business, Kaufer. The old give and take. Just an honest bit of business between old friends.

 

 

 

 

 

stephen-faulkner

Stephen Faulkner

Stephen Faulkner is a native New Yorker, transplanted with his wife, Joyce, to Atlanta, Georgia. Steve is now semi-retired from his most recent  job and is back to his true first love – writing. He has recently had the good fortune to get stories published in such publications as Aphelion Webzine, Hellfire Crossroads, The Satirist, Liquid Imagination, Dreams Eternal, Temptations Magazine, The Erotic Review, Sanitarium Magazine, Impendulum Magazine and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He and Joyce have four cats and a busy life working, volunteering at different non-profit organizations and going to the theater as often as they can find the time.

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