I was sitting in my sparsely furnished apartment, trying to contemplate how I could make more money. I had just let a 21 year-old intern out the door, releasing this little boy only after he sobbed something to me about how his mother would be disappointed in him if she were still alive. I suppose you’re never too young to learn.
The kid had thought himself a social climber and, seeing as how he had nice abs and seeing as how he’d intimated to me that his thrusting was competent (funny how these boys always overstate these things), I figured a passable lay wasn’t a bad way to pass the hours. There’d always be tomorrow’s steady revenue steam at Sturgeon Books, of meetings where I’d cause my underpaid minions to cry and where all of us would plot how we could best appeal to the lowest common denominator. The book business was all about the dinero. And we were prepared to dupe the public by any means necessary.
Conviction was on my mind. Conviction and cash. Cash was the great human equalizer. I had Matt Drudge on speed-dial.
I had watched Tom Cruise jump on Oprah’s couch and I was convinced he was a killer. I was convinced that he would do something dangerous. But we couldn’t get him to write a book speculating upon how he would chop Katie Holmes with an axe. Further, he had not been tried for murder.
We needed a crook. We needed a sale. We needed another bloodbath.
So we called Robert Blake. And we knew that if we gave him a pistol and a pen, he might be counted upon to write a bestsetlling book on how he might have killed his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely.
And I knew right there and then that I could kill two birds with one stone. I raced to the street and saw my faithful intern. He was fishing in his pockets for his Metrocard, staring gloomily into the Manhattan rain for the next bus back to Queens. I told him to come back to my apartment for a proposition. There was initially some confusion. He had mentioned something about tendering his resignation that morning. But when I whispered him in peremptory terms, “This will really help your career,” his ears pricked up. And I observed that he had an erection. Okay, maybe I could kill three birds with one stone.
I told the intern to wait in the living room and called my attorney. Before ten o’clock, he had drafted an airtight release and faxed it over to me. The intern asked to read it and I told him not to worry.
“Do you know who William Tell is?” I asked.
The intern said no.
“Do you know who William Burroughs is?” I asked.
The intern shook his head.
“What’s your name anyway?”
“William,” he said.
“Well, William, how would you like to join a long list of cultural luminaries.”
I gave him an apple from my fruit bowl.
“Is this for me to eat?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “You’re going to meet with a Mr. Robert Blake in Los Angeles. And you’re going to do everything he says. It’s going to involve a pistol, but we’re going to make publishing history.”
I asked William if he had any family or friends. He told me that he didn’t, outside of a brother in Wichita who he was no longer on speaking terms with. He had only starting working at Sturgeon Books two weeks ago and he knew nobody, save the guy at the deli who made him affordable sandwiches.
William was the perfect man for this great moment in Sturgeon Books history. A man wholly without connections, a man who Robert could tinker with.
We got him on the first flight out of LaGuardia to LAX.
Six weeks later, Robert banged out If I Killed Bonnie, I Killed William Too, one of the most eloquent pieces of writing I believe we’ve ever printed at Sturgeon Books. We had even included color photographs of William’s bloody head, complete with little flecks of bone embedded in Robert’s kitchen wall. Really sensational stuff! I’m pleased to report that William was smiling all the way to the end.
There won’t be any wrongful death actions. My lawyer saw to that.
And while Robert has settled into a deeper depression over this experiment of ours, the good news is that Sturgeon Books stands to make a mint.
Conviction. It’s a great way to do business.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.