Insert Chassis Albuquerque: A minor writer, of minor standing

3 March 2017

A minor writer, of minor standing


Dear Writer,

Thank you for your email and the material which we enjoyed reading.
Unfortunately, while there is definitely something there, we feel after some very careful, protracted consideration it's not exactly what we're looking for.
Thank you for letting us consider your work and, hey, all the best in the future...!

Kind regards,
Agent


All this writing business started just the other day, when I met Charles Bukowski, you know, the guy who wrote Post Office? You might probably know him for the movie Barfly with Mickey Rourke. Well Bukowski, he wrote the book the movie was based on; in fact, he even played a bit part. But anyhow, I mentioned this chance encounter to a colleague (I was at work, which wasn’t going so well - I’d fallen asleep in the toilet and when I woke people were looking for me). They said: "Who?" They said it like that, like an owl, w-hooting, a deep, low question filled with that poison, scepticism.
"Charles Bukowski - the writer. What, you think I’m lying?"
"I think we both know you're talking a lotta shit, I mean you’ve practically made a living out of it."
"I met him."
"What’d he say?"
"Various things."
"Bukowski the writer told you various things?" they scoffed.
"It's pronounced Bu-kof-ski, not Bu-kowski - it's Polish-German."
“What did he tell you?” they insisted, exasperated - this means: To annoy to an extremely high degree but you may not need to have looked that up.
Well, really I’d told him about me, you know how I was starting out as an Indie writer, doing all the marketing, building a platform and gaining traction, the momentum of interest which is very important and none of which I’d done. Why? Stupidity mostly, lack of knowledge and because of some recent personal developments (things happened, I won't tell you what given that this information's very confidential but, let me just say, having a baby's just one way of enabling two people to highlight the others shortcomings). Oh, and of course because I'd suffered the delusional, rabid self-belief what I wrote would somehow manifest itself into the minds of readers, major online retailers would phone, cut me a deal so big I'd have to open a new bank account because my old bank was too small to keep all the money they were paying me and I'd be an overnight success 30 odd years in the making.
“So what'd he say?” my colleague insisted. They were practically yelling now.
“I got his autograph,” I told them, “and some real good advice.”
“Never buy a house on the corner, all kinds of drunks, loudmouths and groups of socially inappropriate people will hang out there...?" Clearly this was a jibe at some advice I’d previously given out to them when they’d been looking for a new property. I chose to ignore their sarcasm, sarcasm is considered to be the lowest form of wit. However, have you seen the new President's hair-do? That's the lowest form of wit and I felt better just knowing that. 
To be honest I was still a little distracted by what Bukowski had told me.
“One of the first things you need to do when setting out as a writer is immediately get yourself an assistant,” he'd told me.
“He told you you need an assistant?” my colleague said.
I nodded.
“All right, enough bullshit, Albuquerque. You know what you’re problem is?”
“You gonna tell me - or you wanna keep me in suspense?” I said.
“See all these people here, they’re all working. You know what that means right? It means you work enough you get paid. What you doing - working on a blog?”
I guess they were pissed because I’d arrived late for work that morning. I’d answered my mobile while driving.
“Just checking where you are - you coming in to work? You were supposed to be in an hour ago!” they'd yelled.
“The traffic is very bad today, I’m almost there in fact, I just need to pull over and grab a coffee…” I said.
“Jesus! You’re getting a coffee…!” they'd wondered shrilly.
“Sure, why not? And it’s illegal to drive and talk on the mobile phone - bye…!” I said, hanging up. And of course, if I hadn’t have made every effort and found traffic jams, snarl-up's, took detours, every major congested route I could think of to be late, including pulling over for that coffee, I wouldn’t of met the great Bukowski. He was getting a coffee himself, that haggard, snarled leather face of his, the long, thick curling grey hair - well, he’d looked like a hobo. But he took the time to listen to me, the cashier didn’t charge him, just nodded reverently and said, “Morning, Mr Bukowski, sir.”
“Morning, Bob,” Bukowski said.
“That’s $3-00, pal,” Bob said to me.
“He’s with me,” Bukowski said.
“No problem, on the house, sir,” Bob told me.
“What do you do?” Bukowski wondered when we were outside; he sipped at his coffee. I stared at his beard.
“I’m in retail,” I said and he grimaced.
“That’s a toxic environment, very abusive, enslavement of man by man.”
“You got any advice for me, Mr Bukowski - hey, you could check out my blog.”
"You write anything?" Bukowski asked.
"I wrote this," I said.  "And a few books, in fact one's out on sale now, The Sundial Salesman."
“You should quit that job, but even before you do that, if you wanna be a writer, get yourself an assistant.”
Then we’d parted and I got in my car and he went walking up off the road.
“You do know he’s dead, right - Bukowski?” my boss was saying.
I didn’t say anything, I wanted to but I didn’t - Bukowski wasn’t dead, Bukowski was alive. Writers like that don’t die, they live on in our heads, their anger and words and thoughts and feelings, forever. I wondered where I could get myself an assistant...