The Last Chapter by Lori Safranek

This story requires NO Voting. It was the lone entry in the “fan fiction” category and therefore wins by default. It is still a good story and Lori did a fine job capturing my characters…please read it and give her some love!! ©Lori Safranek 2013 – Used with permission

He was determined to get the last chapter written today, come hell or high water. This book had been lingering far too long and needed a firm boot in the ass to get it done and on its way to publication. He was deep into the fourth paragraph, finally realizing how he could resolve at least one loose thread in the plot, when the doorbell rang.

He groaned in frustration, saved his document and went to get the door. He peeked out the door’s small window but all he saw was the back of a head, a very female head with a pair of shades holding back her short brown hair. You would think a guy who writes stories about crime and bad guys would be more cautious, but he just opened the door.

“Hi, can I help you?” he asked the brunette as she turned toward him. She was probably in her 40s, thin, and wore a black leather vest over a tiny T-shirt that emphasized an awesome set of boobs. Her tight blue jeans and black boots added up to a sexy biker chick. This was a good thing, in his humble opinion. So he gifted her with one of his dazzling smiles.

The biker chick squinted at him and looked him up and down, frowning.

“You’re Tim Baker?” she asked. She didn’t sound like she believed it for one minute.

“Yeah, I’m Tim. Do I know you?”

She shook her head and rolled her eyes. Her eye rolling was expressive and nearly acrobatic. She could have made it to the Olympics of Eye Rolling, that’s how good she was.

“Yeah, you know me,” the biker chick said. “Well, can I come in or do I have to stand out here like a bum?”

Tim opened the door wider and motioned for her to come into the house. He smelled cigarettes as she walked past.

“Have a seat,” he said, gesturing toward the couch. She sat and he took the chair opposite, and they looked at one another. Tim couldn’t place this chick’s face, but he definitely knew her. She was very familiar to him, like they had spent time together.

She reached inside her vest and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Tim opened his mouth to object and she put her hand up.

“Don’t even start with me about the cigarettes,” she said. She carefully lit her cigarette and inhaled deeply. She blew a stream of smoke straight into Tim’s face and he coughed. She smiled.

“Who are you anyway?” he asked. He was not in the mood for nonsense today; he had a book to finish.

She snorted a laugh and shook her head. “Sheesh, I figured you would recognize me by now. You seem a lot smarter in your books.”

“Thanks, I think,” Tim said. “Now who are you?”

She laughed again. “Tim, don’t tell me you don’t recognize Didi.”

Tim frowned and tried to think of any chicks named Didi that he knew. Maybe someone from Houligans? Someone from Facebook? Oh, shit, not a stalker. He’d never hear the end of it from his writing buddy Armand if he had just opened the door and let a stalker in his house.

He couldn’t remember any Didi. Then it hit him like a frying pan upside his head. “Didi? You think you’re Didi?”

He laughed and said, “Listen, lady, I don’t know what this game is, but Didi’s just a character in my books . . .”

“Oh, just a character in your books, eh? Is that right, you dumb ass? What kinda book would you have without characters? You are one ungrateful jerk,” she grated the words out through clenched teeth.

Tim was still confused but he was getting a little angry. “What the hell are you trying to pull, lady?”

Didi leaned forward and jabbed her cigarette at Tim. “I want you to stop putting me in dangerous situations all the god damned time, that’s what I want. And I want Brewski left alone, too. We have other things to do than save Ike’s ass.”

“I put you in dangerous situations?” Tim was half smiling now, wondering if Armand would really go this far to pull a prank on him. Yes, of course he would. Tim stood up. “Okay, Didi, since that’s who you claim to be, it’s time for you to leave.”

Didi leaned back on the couch and crossed her arms over her very nicely built chest.

“No, Mr. Author, I ain’t leaving just yet,” Didi said with a smile. “Not till we get some things straight between us.”

Tim walked to the door and opened it. He motioned with his arm. “Out. Now. Tell Armand the joke didn’t work.”

Didi looked genuinely puzzled, but she didn’t budge. “I don’t know who this asshole Armand is, but I ain’t leaving.”

The screen door opened and in walked two of the biggest, meanest looking men Tim had ever seen. The first one was in his early 50s and reminded Tim of a younger Jack Nicholson. He wore a black leather vest and a bandanna covered his hair. He must be the male half of Didi’s biker love match. The other guy was close to 6’6” tall and muscled, with long, dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. They walked past Tim and into the house.

Didi said, “Try to convince them to leave, Timmy, I double dog dare you.”

The tall guy spoke, “Tim, good to see you.”

The biker had sat down next to Didi on the couch. He went to put his arm around her shoulders but the look she gave him stopped his arm mid-air. He sighed and pulled away from her.

Didi said, “Guys, old Tim here didn’t even recognize me, you believe that shit?”

The two men made sounds that could have been a laugh. Possibly. Or a warning. Tim cleared his throat nervously.

“I don’t really know what’s going on here, but if this is some kind of practical joke . . .”

All three of his visitors laughed.

“Damn, Timmy, you ought to recognize your old buddies Ike and Brewski,” the biker said.

Tim sat down hard on a chair near the couch. He looked at each of the three people invading his living room. Tall guy with a long ponytail. Biker type. Biker chick. Oh, good Lord. It was Ike, Brewski and Didi, sitting in his living room.

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. No way. They were characters in his books, not even based on real people. But man, that tall guy looked just like how he had always pictured Ike. And Brewski, he was the spitting image of the character that lived in the pages of Tim’s books. The girl calling herself Didi was as foul-mouthed and mean as the biker chick he created out of his own head.

“You’re not my characters,” Tim said it firmly. Ike stood with his feet slightly apart, grinning at Tim. Brewski shook his head and his smile flashed from behind his beard. Didi was concentrating on her cigarette. “It’s impossible.”

Ike shrugged. “Maybe it’s impossible, Tim, but we’re here. You’re here. And we have a bone to pick with you.”

Tim couldn’t believe his ears. “You have a bone to pick with me? If I created you, you got nothing to say about it. I make you do whatever I want. That’s part of being a writer. It’s my own little world with my rules.”

Brewski gave a deep, grumbly chuckle. “Well, listen to you, you little typist. Awful big talk from someone sitting here talking to his own characters.”

Tim shot up out of the chair. “Ok, out! All three of you, or I’m calling the cops.”

Even Didi had a nice laugh over that. Ike put one meaty hand out and pushed Tim back into the chair.

“No,” he said. “We aren’t going anywhere, Tim. You see, the four of us have a little problem.”

“A big problem, if you ask me,” Didi piped up. Brewski nodded.

“How can you have a problem? You don’t really exist,” Tim’s voice was rising in volume and pitch. “Are you all three insane?”

Ike patted him gently on the shoulder. “Calm down, Timmy. We’re not insane.”

Tim looked at him, incredulous. He shook his head. “Okay, to hell with it. What’s this problem ‘we’ have?”

“A dead body,” Didi said. She blew more smoke his way. “In my freakin’ house, by the way.”

Tim sighed. “Oh, give me a break. There is no dead body . . .”

He remembered the book he was working on. In chapter twenty-two, he did place a dead body on the living room floor of Didi’s house. The victim was an old biker friend of Brewski’s and Ike was helping them prove Brewski had nothing to do with the murder. The chapter he was working on this morning, the last chapter of the book, would explain everything and Brewski would be fine and the real murderer would be caught.

He laughed and waved his hand at Didi, as if brushing her concerns away. “Oh, that dead body. Don’t worry about that, it all turns out okay in the last chapter.”

He smiled at the trio, but no one was smiling back. “I promise. I’ve just been working on it, and it’ll be fine.”

Ike looked at Brewski, who cocked his head and looked at Didi. Her face held no expression.

“Baker, are you nuts?” she asked. “I’ve had a dead body in my house for four days. Four days, jackass. It stinks. We want to dump it out to sea and just forget about it. But every time we try, you write some crazy shit about a hurricane hitting Flagler Beach. There hasn’t even been a strong breeze since that damned guy died.”

Ike nodded. “She’s right, Tim. You dropped the ball on this one. You left the body lying in her living room, rotting away, and you won’t let us get rid of him. And you aren’t letting me use my connections to find out who did this.”

Brewski swore. “Baker, we want that body gone by the end of the day, and if you don’t do it, we are going to have us two dead bodies. And you aren’t going to be signing no more books or chatting up any more groupies on Facebook, my man.”

“Hey, I don’t have groupies!” Tim said, highly offended. “They’re fans. They like my books.”

Didi snickered. “Groupies, just like Brewski had when he was in that band back in the eighties. I put an end to that whole mess, first time I saw some teenager trying to sneak onto the tour bus.”

Brewski glowered at Didi. “You really think that had to be told? I swear, you can’t keep that trap of yours closed.”

“Bite me,” Didi said, blowing another smoke ring. Brewski growled deep in his chest.

Tim shook his head like a bear trying to escape a swarm of bees.

“Okay, okay, wait,” he said. “Forget about the groupies.”

Didi snorted. “I thought they weren’t groupies.”

Tim glared at her. She blew another smoke ring.

“For now, we have a dead body,” he continued. “I have it under control. I swear to God, I was just writing the ending and it’s all going to work out just fine. Have I ever let you down before, left you hanging?”

Didi scoffed. “Hello? There’s a dead body in my house!”

“I said forget the dead body,” Tim yelled. “Forget the friggin’ dead body!”

Brewski made some getting-up-to-kick-your-ass movements and Tim quickly back-pedaled. “I mean, I just mean, I mean, let’s just deal with this problem right now, okay? I’ll get the guy out of Didi’s house, find the killer and it’ll all be fine.”

Ike spoke up. “Problem is, Tim, you’re moving awfully slow. We have other things to do, you know. Brewski and Didi have been planning to head up to Sturgis for months now and it’s a couple weeks away. And me, I have a job to do. I need to get started on it soon.”

Tim laughed weakly. “Get this shit. I’m inconveniencing my characters. How dare I?”

Brewski sighed and started to get up again. Tim looked him in the eye and said “Dude, try me. I’ll have you dressed in drag again in the next book.”

Brewski froze, seemed to be considering his chances, and slid back on the couch. Tim took a deep breath.

“Okay, I gotta get back to writing, so I can get rid of the dead guy and you all can go to Sturgis and all that crap,” he said. “So, thanks for stopping by, but it’s time to go.”

Ike laughed and shook his head. “Nah, Tim, we’re fine right where we are. We want to make sure you get this thing resolved. And no Facebook, man, we want to see solid writing until things are cleared up.”

“Hey,” Tim said. “I’m not on Facebook that much.”

All three of his guests laughed.

Tim stood up and stalked over to his desk. “Okay, I’m gonna write. Just . . . just be quiet so I can focus.”

It was awkward, trying to write with his characters looking over his shoulder. Didi kept saying, “That’s not how you spell that. You have some shitty spelling skills, Timmy. And put a comma there. What do you have against commas, anyway? ”

Brewski had liberated a couple cold beers from the fridge. He and Ike were sitting on the couch now, drinking Tim’s beer. Occasionally, Ike would ask, “Tim, did you remember about the blood?” and Tim would say, through clenched teeth, “I’m getting there.”

Two hours passed and finally Tim typed those magical words: The End. The body had been dumped in the ocean, all the blood had been cleaned up off of Didi’s carpet and Brewski had been cleared. He pushed back from the desk and let the trio read what he had written.

“Yeah,” Ike said. “That’s a good plan. We can do that, no problem.”

Didi made a little humming noise that sounded a lot like “I don’t know” and pointed to a sentence. “You really think I could get all that blood up with just a carpet steamer? And remember he had four days to leak body fluids.”

Tim closed his eyes and took a deep breath, drawing on all his resources to find enough patience to deal with these maniacs he’d created.

“The blood will come up, and so will the body fluids, Didi,” he said. “I googled it.”

Didi shook her head. “He googled it. Sheesh.”

Ike turned to Tim and stuck out his hand. Tim shook the big man’s massive paw. “Good going, Baker. You did us proud.”

Tim, still feeling a bit lost, said “Well, gee thanks, Ike, I’m glad you like it.”

Then he realized what he had just done – thanked his own character for approving of his writing. A vein began pounding in his temple. Brewski gave him a hearty slap on the back, nearly knocking Tim off his feet.

“Good job, typist,” he said. “Next time, wrap it up a little sooner. We ain’t as young as we used to be. The stress ain’t good for us.”

He and Didi walked out the front door. Ike waved and said, “Thanks again, Tim,” and followed them.

Tim was left alone with a finished manuscript and the beginning of a rotten headache. He saved the document carefully then grabbed his car keys and went out the front door.

It had been one hell of a day. His own characters had shown up at his house, telling him what to write. It was too much. Then again, the book was done. That was always top priority.  Now, he needed a drink. Ike and Brewski had drunk all his beer. Why hadn’t he written them as recovering alcoholics? He chuckled then stopped dead in his tracks. An evil grin spread over his face. Oh, yeah, he thought, smiling broadly, Ike and Brewski were going to learn to live one day at a time in the next book. I’m a frickin’ genius, Tim thought, as he started the car and drove away.

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13 Comments

Filed under Short Story Contest

13 responses to “The Last Chapter by Lori Safranek

  1. Great story! Even when you called me an asshole, Lori

    Armand

  2. “Brewski gave a deep, grumbly chuckle. “Well, listen to you, you little typist. Awful big talk from someone sitting here talking to his own characters.”~

    I loved it, but the above line had me laughing loudly. Classic!

  3. Lori – You have made a fan with this. I loved the way your characters took issue with the life created by the author. If each of us wrote with the character’s reactions in mind, it would help us make the work more realistic and appealing. Even if there were other entries in this category i believe yours would stand above.

  4. Thank you! I’m kinda tickled by that line myself. I couldn’t have written such a story without Tim’s already awesome characters!

  5. Pingback: Ike Strikes Again | blindoggbooks

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