“How do you clean your floor?” I swaid. That’s right, swaid. I was swaying slightly as I said it because free wine had happened to me.
“Novak!” I swhouted.
“If you haven’t got a vac then how do you clean your floor?”
“Ha!” Excellent. Things were going excellently. I’d plucked up the courage to approach BJ Novak at the big literary thing and I’d made an excellent first impression. I drank more wine. “In the UK we call Hoovers ‘vacs’.” I wiped my chin with the back of my hand.
“Okay!” said BJ Novak with a smile but then he ruined it by raising his trade-mark eyebrows to his attractive companion. He didn’t think I’d see. I didn’t like that. Celebrities think they’re all that. No time for the little guy. I turned to my companion, Carol and winced. I turned back to BJ Novak.
“Loved the calendar one you did, the one about the calendar.” I drank more wine.
“Okay!” said BJ Novak again, for, like, the millionth time. Actually I’d said one of them. He’d said it more than me, though, for sure. “Look, it was good to meet you…”
When it was apparent he wasn’t going to finish his sentence I nodded.
“Jamie P Barker.”
“Oh, you’ve an initial! Are you a writer too?”
“I am. I do short stories too. In fact you could say you’re living my dream which doesn’t seem fair.”
“Well, hey, I’ll check out your stuff. Nice to meet you Jamie P Barker and…” He was looking at Carol.
“She’s called Stephanea.”
“Stephanea.” said BJ Novak smiling at Carol. Ha, sucker! Her name’s Carol!
“She looks nice when she’s done up,” I lied.
BJ Novak nodded and then he was walking away but leaning into his companion talking. Talking about me. Talking about how he was sorry to have met me, probably. Talking about how people like me are the worst thing about behind a big-shot star like him. I exploded. “NOVAK!” I shouted.
He turned. “Look, this is a fancy place, I don’t want any trouble,” he said with his palms raised.
“You’ve come to the right place then,” I said with narrowed eyes. “I mean the wrong place,” I said, correcting myself. “You’ve come to the wrong place if you don’t want trouble because there’s going to be some.”
BJ Novak shook free of his attractive companion and stormed up to me and I screamed and closed my eyes because I thought he was going to punch me. After a few seconds I dared opened them. He was in front of me. He looks like a big Malcolm in the Middle. “You wanna do this?”
“Yeah, I do. At that table,” I said pointing to a table. He nodded. The crowd of literary people started chanting Write! Write! Write! Write! and formed a rambunctious circle around us when we sat.
“Genre?” asked BJ Novak powering up his dinky MacBook.
“All of them,” I replied as I turned on my HP piece of shit that Carol had been carrying. Mine takes ages to come on. Doesn’t even go straight to Windows. Goes to a user page first. I keep meaning to change that, as I’m the only user, but I don’t know how. I guess it’s in the Control Panel. It still wasn’t on and BJ Novak was already typing. Shit. It takes ages for Open Office to open on mine and the desktop was still showing egg-timers where icons should be. Somebody behind BJ Novak leant over his shoulder and squinted at his screen and then hollered a yeah! and pumped his fist and then raised his arms to get double high fives from others in the partisan crowd. Others shouted USA! My laptop was trying to sign into Google Back-up. Fuck! Why does it do that?
“Ten minutes left!” Said a referee. Don’t know where he came from. I cursed Hewlett-Packard and then closed my eyes. I could plan, at least, so the time wasn’t wasted. I had something. A kernel. Something about Goldilocks. The one from the three bears. Something about her OCD and how it didn’t just affect her experiences in the woods. How it was also fucking up her life in the city. The egg-timers had gone! I could start Open Office! I rolled my head around on my tense neck and stretched my fingers and glanced up at the people behind Novak who were sort of throwing fake punches with each key-stroke BJ Novak made.
Open Office was open!
“Goldilocks folded the towel in her apartm-“
Fucking battery went. “Fucking battery went!” The fucking battery had gone. “The fucking battery’s gone.” I looked under the table for a plug socket but of course there wasn’t one. Even if there had been time was nearly up. But there wasn’t one. It was a table in the middle of a room. “Fucking battery!” BJ Novak just smiled calmly, closed his dinky MacBook and sauntered over to the printer that was already dispensing copies of his short story. People gathered near him and he handed them out like he was Jesus. “Fucking battery.” I said. The room fell quiet as each person got their copy and began to read. There were chuckles. A few laughs and then the fastest reader finished. That person began kissing the paper. Not a good sign, for me. The room grew louder oppositely to how it had quietened as more people finished. And the chant went up. BJ! BJ! BJ! BJ! A few literary women hoisted BJ Novak into the air and he was carried out of the room on a wave of applause and arms. And then it was just me and Carol in the room. “The battery! The fucking battery. I could have had him, Carol. I could have beaten him and had his life and his girlfriend!”
“I don’t think that was the prize.”
“Not now Carol.” I slumped back in the chair and then leant down to the side and picked up a sheet of paper. I started to read it, at first shaking my head. Then I smiled and then I threw back my head and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Jamie P Barker by BJ Novak
“How do you do clean your floor?” I swaid. That’s right, swaid. I was swaying slightly as I said it because free wine had happened to me.
“Novak!” I swhouted.
“If you haven’t got a vac, how do you clean your floor?”
“Ha!” Excellent. Things were going excellently. I’d plucked up the courage to approach BJ Novak at the big literary thing and I’d made an excellent first impression. I drank more wine. “In the UK we call Hoovers ‘vacs’.”