If An Infinite Number of Monkeys...



This could be my big break, thought Chad, an exclusive interview with the great Norman Gross, billionaire author and recluse, the most prolific writer in English history. Now Chad was a decent writer himself, he had a flair for the right words and phrases, and no problem churning out pages. He could not, however, get the publishing hierarchy's attention, he possessed lousy people skills and not a single connection.

But now things would be different, Chad had nailed a plum assignment for People magazine, an entire day with the literary lion in his East Hampton mansion. In addition to scoring a national byline, Chad would get to sit at the knee of a master storyteller and soak up his style and M.O., share some food and some laughs and who knows, maybe Gross's agent or publisher if Chad were lucky.

As he packed a small valise with his recording device, sweater, allergy pills, tissues, notebook and pens, Chad felt like pinching himself to see if he was dreaming.

“O-o-w!” he cried, rubbing his pale skinny bicep. That overly enthusiastic pinch was going to leave a mark but it confirmed Chad's fabulous, amazing, life-changing luck. Time to hop in the old jalopy and head for the Hamptons!

The first surprise Chad had at Norman Gross's sprawling waterfront mansion was the greasy, rumpled affect of the man who opened the door and motioned him in. The man was wildly overweight, his hair was just frightful and he reeked of garlic, tobacco and sweat. The second surprise was that this was no hygiene-challenged domestic, the man was, in fact, Gross.

“I know,” he grumbled as he led the young journalist into a sparsely-furnished room overlooking the ocean, “I've let myself go. And never quite got around to changing that photo on the dust jacket of my books. That was me a quarter century ago.”

“Well, Mr. Gross, you, uh, certainly don't look, um . . . ,” said Chad, digging himself into a deep hole. “Hey, will you look at this view!” Cheeks aflame, Chad rushed over to the picture window and beheld the majestic sun-splashed Atlantic.

“Yes, I love the water, always have,” said his malodorous host, appearing at Chad's elbow. “Instead of bathing, I go swimming in the cold briny deep, at least once a week.”

“That often?” said Chad, instantly regretting his tactless remark. No wonder he couldn't get ahead.

“How 'bout a glass of Scotch?” said Mr. Gross, blithely ignoring the fact that it was not yet ten in the morning. “And please, call me Norm.”

“Er, no thanks, um . . . Norm, alcohol gives me the runs. Do you have any sparkling water?”

“Nah, I never buy that crap, I drink my water straight from the tap,” said Norm, lumbering over to the bar and reaching for a bottle of whiskey. He filled an Old Fashioned glass to the brim with the clear amber liquid. “They say Hemingway loved his Glenfiddich neat. And if it's good enough for Papa, well, it's good enough for me.” The man downed half the glass in a single gulp.

If An Infinite Number of Monkeys... continues...
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About Pete McArdle


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Pete McArdle is clinically old, and when a bad ticker ended his long but unremarkable athletic career, he decided to wow the world with his writing. A wecent, er, recent spate of published stories has done nothing to dampen his delusions of literary grandeur. Sadly, some editors have found his work "just not right",...read more eerily echoing the sentiments of Pete's third-grade teacher re Pete.
2 comments
Discussion
  12 months ago · in response to Wanda Morrow Clevenger

    I sometimes imagine a literary-journal editor reading that line. Do they laugh? Probably not . . .
  12 months ago
Fun read. I enjoyed it immensely. This line is sweet: We donate the textbooks to schools and send the completely unintelligible crap to the literary journals.”

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