Dammit, knew I forgot something.
"Don't worry boss, I think I've finally cracked it."
"Cracked what? Your psyche?"
"The column. I'm just about to start writing it."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"The column you asked me to write. The guest column for Dan."
"That was six weeks ago! You've been out here convulsing and jabbering for a month and a half. We
had to build a robot to host Does Not Compute. I come out here twice a week to knock you out with a phone book and force pre-chewed meatloaf down your throat."
"But...but, I'm John f*****g Cheese, and-"
"No, you're not! You're Michael Swaim, and this is a building fire escape!"
"You" I shouted in a rush of remembrance, "the drink! You slipped me a Brockway!"
"That's not a thing," said Jack. "I'm almost positive you're just crazy. I mean, every time I come out here you think you're a different columnist. One time you were hissing and meowing and had cut your dick off. I think you were trying to be Christina."
I'll admit, it was a hard pill to swallow. Could it really have been my own mental problems all along, like some kind of groundbreaking Christopher Nolan movie? I took a long moment to soak it all in. Here we were, Jack and I. The two of us made an unlikely pair...he, the transgendered uggo comedy editor, and me, a faux-dick with no dick and a head full of other folks' minds on one wild merry-go-round ride. Despite myself, I had to crack a sly smile.
"Wow," Jack said, "that really wasn't the reaction I expected to the dick thing. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's still here somewhere; we told janitorial not to come near you."
I couldn't even hear him. I was already inches-deep in my new column. It would be proud, and just, and about all things true and right in the world. Split personalities or not, this was one job I wasn't going to leave undone.
"Boss, I need a day. Just one more day, and you'll have your guest column, I swear it."
"I don't care. Dan's been back for a month. No one cares. If you write something, we'll run it, I guess. Anyway, I should go. I'm really not supposed to talk to you for this long."
"Why? Is my brain thing contagious?"
"Nope, just a New Years' resolution. Thanks for reminding me why we don't let you write for the site any more. And hey, when you get a chance, can you head down to the parking garage? You've been blocking me in since July. I would have had you towed, but your car is a tent with your family living in it." With that, and several seconds of him opening the door and walking out, he was gone.
But I didn't mind; I knew he had a site to run. I, on the other hand...I had a column to write. And what's more, it was going to be a column with narrative, with a real story you could sink your teeth into.
Although if you think about it, maybe narrative is just the brain's way of justifying the seemingly random actions we take every day. Maybe a story is nothing but a bit of human programming designed to impart the illusion that life has shape and meaning, rather than simply beginning and ending with few real clues along the way.
I was sure it was the kind of larger-context analysis and deep insight that would elevate my column to the status of "insta-classic," like a classic book, say