A BRIEF EXCERPT
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else,” Albert Einstein.
Charlie put on a fancy hotel robe, the kind that always felt soft and the air conditioner blew ice in the fancy hotel room that Charlie couldn’t afford. The last time Charlie sat in a hotel room that he couldn’t afford, him and a few buddies scaled the vine intertwined walls of the Chateau Marmont. They then luckily sneaked inside a vacated hotel room with two bedrooms through a left open patio door. That’s where they proceeded to squat in that room made up for kings with a bottle of Old Crow and some good cheer, whooping it up like wild weeds stretching towards the sun and dreaming the night away about how they will all be rich and famous, like young souls often do.
This was way back though, when Charlie lived with his aspiring novelist Father in Los Angeles, because his Mother was having a hard time with him. Charlie’s Mother thought that maybe Charlie’s Father could straighten him out, but if you knew Charlie’s Father, then you knew that was never going to happen.
Now years later, Charlie was being wined and dined like a rock star, though he never got up on any stage, at least not yet anyways. And who would have thought? At twenty two, he was in the fancy hotel room in New York, because of about one hundred and ninety nine notebooks that he scribbled crazily in. These were furious transcripts he had lashed and penned and wrote and pressed, all long hand and all strangely bizarre in a youthful almost punk rock kind of way, the kind of style that teenagers often throw at the world in the name of “Avant-Garde,” or whatever other moniker they give under developed art yet underneath that hard exterior there was thoughtful, insightful, strange little chunks of his hot-wired brain that were suddenly on display for the entire world to see in a most unique way. Or then again maybe not. That all remained to be seen of course, but truth was they were in that fancy hotel room for one reason. Charlie was not a literary genius by any stretch nor did he come from super rich, upper class stock. He just enjoyed writing and every day since he could first pick up a pen that’s precisely what he did. He wrote, scrawled, jotted, and drew strange sketches and then wrote and composed some more. It was always easier for him to express himself in this manner than talking. He wrote and wrote and got better and better and, as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” only with words there really was no such thing as perfect, because it was all different and done different and everyone who does it did it different. But it was the notebooks they wanted, all of them, a publishing house just uptown, a few blocks away felt the first twenty two years of Charlie’s life on this planet scrawled entirely with pencil and in very bad handwriting, sometimes not legible at all, sometimes surrounded by those very hideous drawings, stemming from those deep dark synapses somewhere off to the side, from the unabashed soul and that colorful, underground, unseen, guttural perspective that most interesting stories are birthed from, well…even Charlie couldn’t wrap his mind around why anyone would want to buy them. Someone once said Charlie’s notebooks were like a literary version of The Truman Show, the movie that is. But whatever the case, the publishing company called Simon wanted them, and it was downright embarrassing Charlie thought and he felt the jig was up.
This had to be a joke, because no one normally ever gave two shits about Charlie before and yet now there was all this ludicrous attention. It was nearly too much. When he was with others from school or his job at the Chicken Shack, he always felt alone and so he put it all down on paper, both how he saw his own life and how he wished it to be. It was Walter Middy in reverse, because it was his own life that was worth telling, not the fantasy he wished it to be, which was rather uneventful. He wanted to rest a bit after a while, but he had too much to say. He needed to create there was no other choice. It wasn’t an option as it was an addiction or compulsion.
So after Charlie finally let someone see his notebooks, to a friend named Billy, on a lark, Billy’s Father knew someone, who sent them to someone else and then four months later the phone rang and some people told him to come to New York, where he was now, more alone than ever.
Charlie’s brother Bobby was drinking again, more so than usual. Bobby always seemed to be a bad influence for Charlie and Charlie had always taken most of the blame for his shenanigans. Charlie was in a word, totally misunderstood. It was either something Charlie would get through, outgrow and become stronger about or it would be his Achilles heel. It was too early to tell. Charlie’s gentle nature wasn’t really in sync with this frantic cutthroat world, but this was how Charlie always saw Bobby: Beautifully Twisted. To Charlie, Bobby was the real voice of it all, a regular Dean Moriarty in the storyline of his life. So, Charlie again watched his brother go off on a booze cruise so to speak and thought about finally saying something, but instead he decided to join in and did some shots of top shelf Scotch. Bobby had put a couple bottles on the tab courtesy of the publishing house or it would soon be. And oh but ah! So smooth Charlie thought with a serious wince…a few minutes later Charlie also thought…And this dumb book better be as good as they say it will be or my whole life is reset, back to zero. This was the first thought. His second was, well if it isn’t any good, then who really gives a rat’s anyways, my life is already a zero. This was why Charlie tried to avoid alcohol, because early on he realized that it turned him into some kind of intense, don’t give a damn soldier on a mission even he didn’t really grasp. All in all though, Charlie thought, it was just one life, one out of billions, but it was the only life he’d ever known and one that people who knew more than him were suddenly interested in. If it didn’t happen, to Charlie and Bobby this free first class suite, with the pseudo fireplace, mini bar, free room service and the two other bedrooms was well worth the trip. Their plan soon became to take advantage of it for all it was worth, just in case, because at least they’d have that.
So Charlie poured a little more Chivas Regal into the fancy crystal glass. He flicked it and it sang. By now the good stuff didn’t taste as harsh as it once did and it definitely tasted better than the cheap beer or bottom shelf gut rot he sometimes consumed with friends on occasion in his home town of Detroit, where drinking was kind of a national past time, a sort of means to an end, a quick smile on a long chagrin, that bumpy road of a city, where quick acceleration was way more fun than the long dreadful haul. This was what he wrote on a hotel notepad, while sitting in his fancy hotel robe, sipping his top shelf liquor by the fake fireplace in June of 2016, as the fake fire lit up the dark room, and he waited for his big shot meeting. He contemplated home and where he was now, another universe away:
So I’m hitting this hooch
And it could be either good or bad
It’s too damn early to tell
No broken down cars on the side of the road
No more fist fights
No race riots
No need to worry?
Or maybe it’s precisely that very time to worry
Today is no big deal; it’s just the difference between name brand and no name, a life and no-life
I’d sell my soul to avoid another life of no life
I’d sell my soul to save yours
See, the best days I ever spent were dreaming of this day knowing that it would never come
Funny isn’t it?
Now that it’s here, I can’t wait for it to be over.
His brother said they had to go, like now, so get cracking and Charlie bounced up like a marionette doll…