Dinner at the Wonder Bar?

Hugo Sark arrives with demands — Explanations are exchanged — The Author’s stated goals are called into question by Hugo

Hugo Sark knocked on my door at four in the morning and rushed past me demanding that I make him a “full English breakfast with extra-messy eggs, extra-thick bangers, extra-sloppy baked beans, twenty-five perfectly crisped rashers of bacon” and a large pot of coffee.

Wait! Have you read “Begin the Begin, or Hugo: An Introduction?” If not read it and come back. We’ll wait. Go on! Click the link and scram! But come back as soon as you’re done! Auuugggh!

He pointed a finger and shoved it so close to my face that I had to cross my eyes to keep it in focus. “And don’t try to offer me a cup of weak tea and boiled oyster crackers instead of what I want! I won’t stand for that!” he said.

I walked toward him, wanting to to embrace him, but he kept his arms at his sides and let his apparent hunger increase the intensity of his scowling. In response, I crossed my arms over my chest. “Why are you here? Understand, I’m pretty sure I’m glad you’re here,” I said. “But seriously. Why are you here? At this ungodly hour, I mean?”

“I drove down here to visit my mom but you know how she is about sleeping in – she won’t be rolling out of bed at least until five-thirty, six o’clock. So I figured I’d hang out here for a couple hours and then go see her.”

“Why didn’t you just leave three hours later so you could get here when you wanted to?”

He struck the wall with his open palm: a mistake. “Ow! Jesus jumpin’ over the Grand Canyon in a stagecoach! What’re these concrete walls made out of? Concrete?” he whined.

“Look who’s solving mysteries so early in the morning,” I said. “Yes, these concrete walls are made of concrete.”

“Do you want me to leave?” he asked.

“Of course not, but—”

“Because I don’t have to stick around here and be insulted by the likes of you. I can leave, you know!” he said. “And I will, right after you make me breakfast! Now get a pot of coffee brewing and sit down so I can look at you. It’ll break Mama’s heart to know you kicked me out of your house while I was waiting to surprise her with a visit.”

He knew I wasn’t going to kick him out of my house no matter what time he got there. All he wanted was for me to apologize for hurting his feelings even though I hadn’t hurt his feelings, and then he’d demand some ridiculous, oversize compensation for all the pain I’d caused him, even though I hadn’t caused him any pain at all.

“Look, you wanted to know why I was here, and I told you. Now here’s a question for you, since you want to know so much about me this morning,” Hugo said. “What are you doing up at this ungodly hour?”

“I got up to write. I get up to write every morning at around this time.”

“Don’t lie about something like that,” he said.

“I’m not lying. I’ve been working on a novel for about a month,” I said. “Mornings are my time to write. When my brain’s still fresh.”

“I seriously doubt there’s any time of day when your brain could be called fresh,” he said, scratching at the air when he said fresh.

I shrugged. “Fair enough. You’re entitled to your opinion.”

“And you are privileged enough to know my opinion. But. Anyway. What’s this so-called novel about?”

“Well, it starts out in—”

“Stop! Stop now! You know if you talk about a writing project the mojo thief’ll come and steal every bit of your juice and then you’re finished!”

“Then why did you ask me what it was about?”

“I was testing you, you half-wit,” he said. “And you failed. Now you’ve got to tear it all up, every word, every page, and start over.”

“Bullshit. I’m not doing that.”

“You’ve got to–it’s cursed, now!”

“I’m not throwing away my novel,” I said.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. You’ve tossed out enough unfinished novels to fill an extra large dumpster with flames to burn for weeks. What’s one more gonna matter?”

He was right about all that. The last novel I’d begun and saw through to the end had been written 15 years prior. Since then, every project I’d ever started had stalled out, whether I’d been chugging along and backfiring every hundred yards or sailing along a straight stretch of highway leaving a trail of dust in my wake.

To acknowledge this would not make me feel any better, so I decided to deflect his remark with an awkward pantomime of positivity: “This time I have to make it work out because I have a very specific goal in mind,” I said, rolling my eyes at myself for spouting such horrible dialogue.

“You mean you’ve been writing since you were ten years old and you haven’t had a specific goal in mind until now? When you’re almost 50?” Hugo asked. “Oy yoy yoy! I can’t believe of all the writers who could be writing me, I’ve gotta be stuck with you.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be sorry, be better!” he said. “When you write you should only have two things in mind to keep you going, all right? Number one: is this going to make me any money? Number two: will this help me get laid?”

I scowled. “Really? That’s all you think I should be considering when I write anything?”

“I should not have to be telling you this!” Hugo shouted, banging his empty coffee cup on the table in front of him. “Just like I shouldn’t have to tell you to get me more coffee when my cup is empty!”

While I refilled his cup, I said, “So I don’t need to be worried about posterity, or the reader, or–”

“Look, this thing you’re working on right now–”

Dinner at the Wonder Bar,” I said.

Hugo slammed a palm against his forehead. “Gah! DO NOT tell me the title! That’s bad luck, too.”

“But it’s only the working title, not the real title,” I said.

“You don’t know that!”

“Yes I do,” I said.

“How do you know for sure?”

“Because I decided to use my goal as the working title, not what it’s actually about.”

“Are you purposely trying to confuse me? Say that title again?”

Dinner. At the. Wonder Bar.”

“Dinner? At the Wonder Bar? Fer fuck’s sake,” he shouted, “that’s not a goal!”

“Who are you to say what is or isn’t a goal? For me?”

“It sure as hell isn’t one of the goals I told you to have.”

I shrugged.

“Explain,” he said.

“Maybe another time,” I said, hoping that he wouldn’t decide to chase me through the house and put me in a headlock before vowing to bash my face in with a shovel if I didn’t explain to him what Dinner at the Wonder Bar meant.

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