Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Someone recently suggested I stop writing about relationships, since I'm obviously not very good at them. So just for today, as they say in the rooms, I'm changing subjects.

I've been looking for work; it's not easy for a man who's been self-employed for many years but
the fact is, I need the money and my free-lance sources of cash have vanished. Even eBay, which I have worked for more than a decade with varying success, has completely dried up. Funds are short and the bargain hunters who frequent on-line markets are holding on to their pennies and waiting for better times.

I write. That's what I've been doing in one form or another for the past 45 years. I've written books, magazine and newspaper articles, documentary scripts, radio shows, pamphlets and newsletters, short and long fiction. I've written obits and birth announcements, chronicled marriages and divorces; I write in French and English, have been a columnist for Canadian, Swiss and francophone North African newspapers in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. I've hosted radio shows in French and English, done television for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, founded and ran a small magazine that suffered an early death. I wrote a tourist book on Washington many years ago and worked at the Washington Post during Watergate. I wrote how-to books for Time-Life. I taught guitar, in-line skating and martial arts. I've also done carpentry, mowed lawns, been an office mover, sold magazines door to door, hawked T-shirts to tourists, translated things from French to English and vice-versa, played in bands for $50 a night and a free meal. I helped some people deliver a boat during a hurricane, sold an ounce or two back in the days, sanded floors and shingled roofs.

So you'd think it would be easy, right? After all, this is not a bad track record. It covers the intellectual and the manual, shows I'm perfectly willing to adapt to pretty much any situation

Here's the deal. There are no jobs. Writing is like practicing a long dead art form. I might as well be scratching cuneiform on clay tablets with a stylus.

This is a problem. Newspapers and magazines are laying off writers by the score. Gannett just announced it will be firing a thousand editors and reporters within the month. Journalism schools are foundering. Publishing, as a whole, is being eaten alive.

So, what to do? A particularly vapid friend suggested I become a sperm donor for people who don't want to have children.

Another forwarded the little ad illustrated. I probably speak enough Spanish to apply.

So here's the deal. I need work and I'm not proud, so if anyone reading this has an idea, please send it. I'll do, within reason, pretty much anything related to the writing field.

Here's installment 103 of Wasted Miracles. Sorry it took a while to get here....

Jennifer Jamieson gave Colin an odd look, turned to her friend but didn’t say anything. Colin felt the four of them were frozen in time. He added, “A lot of people have already died because of this. Five so far.”

“Six,” Mamadou said. “You’re forgetting Amelie.”

Still they didn’t respond, though Colin thought he saw Clare Drake stiffen.

Passengers were still flowing around them. An elderly couple asked Mamadou if his limo was available. He shook his head without taking his eyes from the two women.

Finally, Jennifer Jamieson said, “Ah Hell. What you’re looking for, it’s gone. We gave it to a woman in Freeport. She said she was a friend of Herbie’s, that he’d told her to pick it up. But we don’t know what it was. We weren’t involved in any of this.”

Clare Drake let out an exasperated sigh. “Oh, fuck it! This is ridiculous! Let’s end it, OK?” She looked at her friend. “Herbie’s dead, and even if he isn’t what the hell does it matter anyway?” She turned back to the two men. “You know what it was that we gave that woman? It was lactose and flour. Like maybe ten pounds of it. And I know because I thought it was coke, and I thought I’d try some, except that it wasn’t. So Herbie, alive or dead, well, he got taken, is what I think. There never was any dope, not now, not ever. So, what do you want to arrest us for, smuggling? Smuggling what? There was never anything to smuggle!”

Mamadou rubbed a hand across his chin, scratched his cheek. “I don’t believe you. Colin, these women are lying, they’re trying to--”

“Who did you give it to? The woman, what was her name?”

In unison, the women said, “Mollie. She said her name was Mollie.”

And to Colin, it made all the sense in the world. He started walking away when Mamadou caught his arm. “Talk to me! What is going on here? Who is Mollie? Where are the drugs?”

Colin shook his arm free. “Maybe another day, Mamadou. Not now. But I think you can believe them, Mamadou. There’s no drugs.”

“Are we all straight now?” Clare asked. “Can we all go on with the rest of our lives?”

Colin nodded, started walking away. Clare looked at Mamadou, “Since you’re here, can you take us to D.C?”

The forklift came toward them at an idle, its driver perched high in the cage. He wore a hardhat, sun glasses, orange overalls and workgloves. One arm was in a sling but he nevertheless managed to work the controls of the vehicle. As he passed the limo, he swung the forklift sharply to the right and accelerated. Mamadou heard the roar of the engine, caught the movement out of the corner of his eyes. The two women stood staring with their mouths in big oval “ohs.” Then Clare Drake screamed, grabbed Jennifer’s arm, yanked her so hard her shoes were left behind. Mamadou dove, his shoulder caught Colin in the chest. The forklift hit the limo broadside and the windshield and passenger windows exploded, showering them both with glass.

The forklift backed up, the driver slamming it into reverse. Mamadou rolled, rose to a crouch, a gun in his hand. He fired once, twice, three times. The driver’s sunglasses shattered. He jerked, threw his arms into the air. His movement threw the cage door open and he collapsed to the side, then slowly began sliding headfirst out of the cage. His shoes—they weren’t workboots but almost new Gucci loafers—somehow got wedged in the forklift pedals and he hung upside down, his head bobbing just above a giant tire. There was the sound of tearing metal as the forklift hit the limo again, lurched, its huge wheels spinning. Then it stalled.

Colin got to his feet, shook shards of glass from his hair. “Jesus!”

Mamadou shook his head. “No. The Zulu.”


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