Chapter Five

   What if I told you I was going to drop all the confusing and misleading stuff and from here on in stick with one story and one -- uh oh, there's the phone.
   "Did you say that you were at the First Federal Security the day that guy shot up the place?"
   Huh? I don't remember.
   "You don't remember? Well, then you probably weren't there, because that's something I'm sure you would remember."
   Yes, I guess you're right. Although, something about it seems to, seems to...
   "Seems to -- what?"
   Resonate. I hate that word.
   "Resonate? What do you mean?"
   I don't know. I really can't describe it.
   I can't.
   "You don't even want to try to describe it?"
   "All right then. What about tomorrow?"
   What's tomorrow?
   "Tomorrow you were going to come back to Kopy Katz, remember?"
   Oh yeah.
   "But I forgot to give you the new address. It's a lot closer to you now."
   "Only one bus. And it's maybe fifteen minutes at the most."
   "Got a pencil?"
   A pen. Go ahead, shoot.
   "1553 9th. It's between Euclid and Butler. Take a number twelve bus, it stops right in front of Kopy Katz. And the hours are now eight-thirty to seven. Those are the new summer hours. Jim? You get all that? Hello?"
   Yeah, yeah, you know, I was thinking, Maureen...
   "About what?"
   About how, well, you, and me, and Kopy Katz, and the telephone, and the pencil -- or pen -- and the address and the hours and the words and the letters -- it's all...
   "What? It's all what?"
   It's all so... magical.
   Yeah. Maybe that's not the right word, but, well, maybe it is. I mean, where does all this come from? Where? Do you know?
   "You're asking me? If you don't know, how should I know?"
   But, what I mean is, here we are, talking on the phone, but, are we really talking on the phone? I mean, where's the phone? Where are you? Where am I?
   "Jim, I'm talking to you on my cream-colored Panasonic SlimLine Phone in my green and blue bedroom, sitting on my unmade bed, surrounded by boxes, and plastic packing peanuts, trying to figure out whether or not I should, tomorrow, before I leave for work, strap a machine gun to the inside of my raincoat and -- hey! Why are you making me say that?"
   I'm sorry. Preoccupied, I guess.
   "With what?"
   I'm not sure. (Listen to this! I'm getting analysis from one of my characters!)
   "I heard that -- and why not? Besides, I think of myself as something more than just one of your 'characters'."
   Sorry, Maureen.
   "So, what do you say?"
   About what?
   "About letting me speak for myself, so to speak."
   You can do that?
   "Don't act so surprised."
   Well, I mean, there's only so much you, uh, fictional characters can do. You're limited, dimensionally, like the readers.
   "You're always so obsessed with the readers, Jim. What do the readers have to do with it? Why don't you worry more about yourself, and your writing, the words, the characters, the poetry."
   The poetry? You think this is poetry?
   "No, but you have to at least try."
   Yeah, you're right. But it's so easy to get thrown off course, especially with some of these crackpots -- I had one guy who thought he was Abe Lincoln, or Napoleon, another one kept complaining about my style, which I admit, needs work --
   "Jim, you can't concern yourself with these outside distractions. You have to push ahead, get to the end, whatever it is, whenever it comes. Wherever."
   "I was being serious, Jim."
   I know. All right, I'll tell you what. I'll think about it. Give me a little time to think it over.
   "A little time?"
   Like a few weeks.
   "A few weeks? Jim, you can't take any time off, or, or... "
   Or what?
   "I don't know. That's the problem. If you leave, well, the rest of us -- everything -- disappears."
   You think so?
   "Like I said, Jim, I don't know. But talking about it is making me uneasy. Could we change the subject, please? Or pick it up tomorrow, at work? By the way, this is the longest, continuous, linear conversation I think I've ever had with you. Do you realize that? Jim? Jim? Jim?

(This ends Chapter Five, only because I can't find Jim! I'm sure he'll return for Chapter Six. At least I hope he does! -- Maureen)

Chapter Six