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datatime: 2022-10-03 10:17:03 Author:xLaeHGvK

He dreamed he was lost in a vast cornfield. He blundered from one row to the next, and the sun glinted off the watches he was wearing-half a dozen on each forearm, and each watch set to a different time.

But when you got a story idea, no one gave you a bill of sale. There was no provenance to be traced. Why would there be? Nobody gave you a bill of sale when you got something for free. You charged whoever wanted to buy that thing from you-oh yes, all the traffic would bear, and a little more than that, if you could, to make up for all the times the bastards shorted you-magazines, newspapers, book publishers, movie companies. But the item came to you free, clear, and unencumbered. That was it, he decided. That was why he felt guilty even though he knew he hadn't plagiarized Farmer John Shooter's story. He felt guilty because writing stories had always felt a little bit like stealing, and probably always would. John Shooter just happened to be the first person to show up on his doorstep and accuse him of it right out loud. He thought that, subconsciously, he had been expecting something like this for years.

But when you got a story idea, no one gave you a bill of sale. There was no provenance to be traced. Why would there be? Nobody gave you a bill of sale when you got something for free. You charged whoever wanted to buy that thing from you-oh yes, all the traffic would bear, and a little more than that, if you could, to make up for all the times the bastards shorted you-magazines, newspapers, book publishers, movie companies. But the item came to you free, clear, and unencumbered. That was it, he decided. That was why he felt guilty even though he knew he hadn't plagiarized Farmer John Shooter's story. He felt guilty because writing stories had always felt a little bit like stealing, and probably always would. John Shooter just happened to be the first person to show up on his doorstep and accuse him of it right out loud. He thought that, subconsciously, he had been expecting something like this for years.

Mort turned to run, but a hand-Amy's, he was sure-seized him by the belt and pulled him back. And when the knives, glittering in the hot sun of this huge secret garden

Yeah, it'll be him, all right-the one person in the whole wide world I shouldn't be talking to with my guard down and one half of my mind feeling unbuttoned from the other half. Sure tell be him-who else?

'It'll probably taste like shit,' he said aloud to the empty house (Mrs Gavin had long since gone home), and set fire to the tip of the cigarette. It didn't taste like shit, though. It tasted pretty good. He wandered back toward his study, puffing away and feeling pleasantly lightheaded. Ah, the dreadful patient persistence of addiction, he thought. What had Hemingway said? Not this August, nor this September-this year you have to do what you like. But the time comes around again. It always does. Sooner or later you stick something back in your big dumb old mouth again. A drink, a smoke, maybe the barrel of a shotgun. Not this August, nor this September ...

He picked up the phone thinking it would be Shooter.

'It'll probably taste like shit,' he said aloud to the empty house (Mrs Gavin had long since gone home), and set fire to the tip of the cigarette. It didn't taste like shit, though. It tasted pretty good. He wandered back toward his study, puffing away and feeling pleasantly lightheaded. Ah, the dreadful patient persistence of addiction, he thought. What had Hemingway said? Not this August, nor this September-this year you have to do what you like. But the time comes around again. It always does. Sooner or later you stick something back in your big dumb old mouth again. A drink, a smoke, maybe the barrel of a shotgun. Not this August, nor this September ...

I am confident I can take care of this business, Shooter said as they advanced on him with their knives raised. I'm sure that, in time, your death will be a mystery even to us.

'It'll probably taste like shit,' he said aloud to the empty house (Mrs Gavin had long since gone home), and set fire to the tip of the cigarette. It didn't taste like shit, though. It tasted pretty good. He wandered back toward his study, puffing away and feeling pleasantly lightheaded. Ah, the dreadful patient persistence of addiction, he thought. What had Hemingway said? Not this August, nor this September-this year you have to do what you like. But the time comes around again. It always does. Sooner or later you stick something back in your big dumb old mouth again. A drink, a smoke, maybe the barrel of a shotgun. Not this August, nor this September ...

At an earlier point in his prospecting, he had found an old bottle half full of Planter's Peanuts. He doubted if the nuts would be fit to eat, but the lid of the bottle made a fine ashtray. He sat behind his desk, looked out at the lake (like Mrs G., the boats which had been out there earlier were gone), relished his old, vile habit, and found he could think about John Shooter and John Shooter's story with a little more equanimity.

It was as plain as the nose on his face ... or the round black hat on John Shooter's head.

Yeah, it'll be him, all right-the one person in the whole wide world I shouldn't be talking to with my guard down and one half of my mind feeling unbuttoned from the other half. Sure tell be him-who else?

I am confident I can take care of this business, Shooter said as they advanced on him with their knives raised. I'm sure that, in time, your death will be a mystery even to us.

Ahead of him, the corn on both sides of the row shook and rustled. Amy stepped out from one side. John Shooter stepped out from the other. Both of them held knives.

'It'll probably taste like shit,' he said aloud to the empty house (Mrs Gavin had long since gone home), and set fire to the tip of the cigarette. It didn't taste like shit, though. It tasted pretty good. He wandered back toward his study, puffing away and feeling pleasantly lightheaded. Ah, the dreadful patient persistence of addiction, he thought. What had Hemingway said? Not this August, nor this September-this year you have to do what you like. But the time comes around again. It always does. Sooner or later you stick something back in your big dumb old mouth again. A drink, a smoke, maybe the barrel of a shotgun. Not this August, nor this September ...

Yet he still felt upset, unsettled, guilty ... he felt at a loss in a way for which there was perhaps no word. And why? Well ... because...

Mort turned to run, but a hand-Amy's, he was sure-seized him by the belt and pulled him back. And when the knives, glittering in the hot sun of this huge secret garden

His last thought before drifting off was a repeat: He's not done with me yet. Oh no, not this guy. He's a repeater.

Ahead of him, the corn on both sides of the row shook and rustled. Amy stepped out from one side. John Shooter stepped out from the other. Both of them held knives.

I am confident I can take care of this business, Shooter said as they advanced on him with their knives raised. I'm sure that, in time, your death will be a mystery even to us.

Time-travellers from another age, Mort thought. He stuck one of the cigarettes in his mouth, then went out into the kitchen to get a match from the box by the stove. Time-travellers from another age, riding up through the years, patient cylindrical voyagers, their mission to wait, to persevere, to bide until the proper moment to start me on the road to lung cancer again finally arrives. And it seems the time has finally come.

At that moment Mort lifted up a Xerox of The Organ-Grinder's Boy manuscript, and there, beneath it, was a package of L & M cigarettes. Did they make L & M's anymore? He didn't know. The pack was old, crumpled, but definitely not flat. He took it out and looked at it. He reflected that he must have bought this particular pack in 1985, according to the informal science of stratification one might call-for want of a better word-Deskology.

Yet he still felt upset, unsettled, guilty ... he felt at a loss in a way for which there was perhaps no word. And why? Well ... because...

His last thought before drifting off was a repeat: He's not done with me yet. Oh no, not this guy. He's a repeater.

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