STORY: The Troublemaker

Meanwhile, at Bloody Mary’s Bar, somebody has noticed that lately, something about the bar seems a little off. She decides to confront Andrew about it after she has finished work for the day.

“I haven’t seen your little Writer Extraordinaire around lately,” she says. “Where did she go? Don’t tell me she finished her book about Bloody Mary’s already? I want to read that when it’s finally published.”

Andrew frowns and takes the hat off his head to smooth out his hair. Unfortunately, his nervous tick betrays him to the woman who knows him best.

“I had to kick her out,” Andrew says seriously. “She was causing trouble.”

Andrew’s Mom raises her eyebrow as she thinks of the pretty young blonde who always came in dressed up, sat in the corner alone, and giggled at her notebook.

“Trouble, huh?”

“Yeah. Trouble.”

“And what kind of trouble was she getting herself into?”

Andrew purses his lips and stares at the wall with a fixed, determined gaze.

“She was interrupting other people’s conversations.”

“Just like Mad Dog does?”

“Yeah, just like Mad Dog does.”

“But Mad Dog is allowed to stay.”

“That’s because he’s Mad Dog.”

“I see,” Andrew’s Mom says slowly, nodding her head. “And what else was she doing to cause trouble?”

“She was making up stories about me.”

A little smile tugs at the corners of her mouth.

“The writer was making up stories about you,” she repeats slowly.

“It wasn’t just me. It was everybody. She was making up stories about everybody. And posting them on her website where everybody could see.”

“And did you ever talk to the writer about the stories she was writing for her book?”

Andrew looks down at the floor sadly.

“No.”

“Well, why not? You’ve had plenty of opportunities to make your voice heard. She was in here writing all the time. If you didn’t like the stories she was writing, why didn’t you say something?”

Andrew stands there silently for a moment, trying to think of something to say. Finally he just shakes his head and shrugs.

“She wrote an entire book about me,” he says quietly. “It’s not even the one about the bar. It’s an entire book she just wrote on the side, like it was nothing! Like I was nothing! And then she comes in here and treats me like I don’t even exist!”

Andrew’s Mom raises her eyebrow again.

“How long is the book?”

“At last count, it was 600 pages. She’s written more since then.”

Andrew’s Mom’s mouth drops open in shock.

Six hundred pages?!” she exclaims. “She wrote 600 pages about you and you never said a word? You didn’t acknowledge her or thank her or express any kind of concern about the content whatsoever? You just ignored her until you could invent a reason to kick her out?”

Andrew frowns again and grips the side of the bar angrily.

“Yes.”

“Is she still writing the book?”

“Yes.”

“And hanging around outside of the bar?”

“Yes.”

“So kicking her out accomplished absolutely nothing.”

“Yes.”

“And you knew she was writing about you like this the entire time?”

“Yes.”

Andrew’s Mom shakes her head and pats him on the shoulder.

“Sounds like you’ve created your own monster,” she says. “You problem is easily solved. If I was in your position, I would have confronted it right when it started. But you didn’t. You played along. You read it, you inspired it, and you played along. You’re still playing along, aren’t you?”

Andrew nods slightly but says nothing. 

“Then I guess you have no one to blame but yourself.”

Andrew grips the bar with both hands, letting his irritated expression do all the talking. Andrew’s Mom stands there silently, looking at him with a worried expression on her face.

“There’s something you’re not telling me. What’s really going on here?”

Andrew tightens his lip, still shaking his head and staring off into space with a purposeful, determined silence. Finally, Andrew’s Mom shrugs and gives up.

“Honey, sometimes I wish you could see just how unhappy you’ve become.”

She gives him one last pat on the back and turns to leave. As soon as she is gone, he picks up an empty glass and smashes it against the opposite wall. He takes a deep breath to steady himself before he gets the broom out and starts sweeping up the mess on the floor. The Line of Death returns just in time to catch him properly disposing of the broken glass.

“What happened?” Howard Hughes asks. “Was there a fight while we were outside?”

“I just broke some glass,” Andrew mutters. “It’s nothing.”

Howard Hughes looks at Andrew suspiciously.

“Are you sure?” he asks doubtfully.

“I SAID THAT IT’S NOTHING!” Andrew shouts, storming out the back door with the broken glass in hand. Everyone knows something is wrong, but nobody says a word.

The End

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