In life, there comes a time you must face your insecurities.
In The Gutter, they just leap off the page.
In The Gutter, they just leap off the page.
A Defective Story by Wayne Scheer
Rock Mason pushes his lanky body away from his desk and plops his size thirteens on the battered desk littered with papers, coffee cups, and two ashtrays piled high with cigarette and cigar butts.
From his shirt pocket he pulls out the fattest, ugliest stogie this side of Havana, bites off the end, and spits it across the room. A glob of saliva drips from his lips to his chin, hangs there like a trapeze artist, and drops to his desk, forming a Florida-shaped stain.
The sign on the door reads: Private Investigator
He sucks on the cigar and turns toward his file cabinet. "You got something in there worth investigating?" He stares at it menacingly. "This is what it has come to. I talk to my goddamn file cabinet."
A couch with rumpled bed sheets and a blanket occupy the part of the office he’s been sleeping in."Damn women." He puts down his cigar and folds the sheets and blanket. "Just when you think you've found one." Returning to his desk, he reaches into a drawer for a bottle of Pepto Bismol and drinks deep, shaking the bottle to get the final drop. "Ahh, the most important meal of the day."
There's a knock on the door.
"I dare you," Mason says.
In walks the kind of broad wet dreams are made of. When his eyes finally reach her face, he sees a smile that would have made Adam beg for apple pie recipes.
Rock's mother had taught him to stand when a lady entered the room, but if he did right then he would have embarrassed himself. He motioned for her to sit down. "What do you go by, doll face?"
"Fanny," she whispers. "Fanny La Moore."
He stares at his cigar as if it had grown a couple of inches.
Rock begins to speak, but stops. He looks to Fanny, who is silent.
Rock shakes his head. His face has turned red. He stares at Fanny who has tears in her eyes.
No longer able to restrain themselves, they giggle like two school children.
"The writer has no idea where he's going with this," Rock says. "All he has are stupid names, bad dialogue, and descriptions that would even embarrass Kinky Friedman. This guy wouldn't know a plot if it bit him on the ass."
Fanny rips off her blond wig and reaches down the top of her dress to pull out foam-rubber padding. "This stuff is giving me a rash."
Rock turns to a mirror hanging on the wall opposite his desk and blows a perfect smoke ring into it.
Wayne Scheer coughs as the smoke from his cigarette settles onto his white hair and beard. "Ah, come on, you guys. Give me a break."
"Give me a character," Fanny says. "I look like I belong on the cover of a 1950's paperback."
"And I'm tired of sitting around in this crummy office," Rock shouts. "For God's sake, man, have me do something."
"Like what?" Wayne asks.
"How the hell should I know? You're the author. Don't you have a file cabinet full of plots?"
"If only," Wayne says, getting up from his desk and pacing. "Let's see. Fanny, you're married to an old geezer, but you're in love with a stud personal trainer. You signed a prenup and you'll get nothing unless you catch the old guy cheating on you. You want to hire Rock to set up your husband with a bimbo and—"
Rock slams his fist on the desk. "You call yourself a writer? Is that the best you can do?"
"Now, now, Rock," Fanny over-articulates. "Maybe that is the best he can do."
Wayne pushes aside a half-folded blanket and crumbles on the couch. "Look, guys. I'm not having a great day. My wife left me for a poet from Iowa."
"Is he in the Writer's Workshop?" Rock asks.
Wayne looks up. "Yeah. What difference does that make?"
"Because they have some talented people there. I could see the attraction."
"Damn," Wayne says. "Why can't you be more understanding? I created you."
Wayne takes a deep drag on his cigarette and lets the smoke out slowly. His eyes widen. He dashes to his computer and starts banging at the keys like a madman.
With that, Fanny walks behind him, massages his shoulders, and kisses his neck.
"Now that's more like it," Wayne says as his fingers continue dancing over the keys.
"No." Fanny pulls away. "I don't do nude scenes."
“Hey, you two. What about me?” Rock asks. “I'm just sitting here playing with my cigar.”
Wayne looks up and smiles before returning to his keyboard.
The office door swings open. An old man waving a handgun sees Rock sitting behind his desk. “So you're the one my Fanny is seeing behind my back?” The old man fires three shots into Rock, turns, and runs off.