In which a dialogue ensues between author and protagonist. When the author lets slip that the protagonist will die, things go from bad to worse.
You walk into the pub, dimly lit, eighties music playing a little louder than you like.
Yes, I’m walking into a pub. Well done. Wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t said.
After casting glances left and right, the corners of your mouth turn into a frown. She isn’t here.
What? I didn’t come here to meet anyone. Tonight’s the CFL Eastern Final.
Now where was I? Oh yes. She isn’t here, but it’s early, so you take a seat at the bar where you can keep an eye on the entrance.
More like, so I can keep an eye on the TV. Will you just get out of my head for five minutes? Who the hell are you anyway?
Okay, look. Perhaps we need to establish some boundaries. I’m the author. You’re the protagonist. I tell the story, you act it out. It’s not very complicated.
You’re the… You know, for a while I thought I was crazy because I keep hearing this voice in my head. But you’re the crazy one. I wonder what it means when there’s a voice in your head, but the voice is crazy.
(Counts down from five and takes a deep breath) You order a Sleeman’s and take a sip.
Actually, no. I’m going to order a Guinness tonight, thank you very much.
“Pint of Guinness,” you say.
What? No. I said Sleeman’s. You were supposed to order Sleeman’s!
Tonight I feel like Guinness.
Listen. I’ve carefully plotted out this story, in which the reader gradually comes to understand you as we peel away your defences, layer by layer, until, tragically…
Did you say tragically?
What? No. Of course not. No spoilers. You have to act out each part as if you’ve no foreknowledge of what’s to come.
So how tragic are we talking about? Are the Redblacks going to lose?
Um, no. Well, yes. But it’s worse than that.
(Sighs) Okay. The love of your life, the woman of your dreams, arrives in the arms of another man.
This woman you talked about that I’ve never seen before? That woman?
Yes, dammit, that one. And you have seen her, but it was before this story so you don’t remember. Just like you don’t remember your own name, because I haven’t introduced it yet. Look, just run with it all, okay? Can you do that?
So you think I don’t know that my name is Ethan Black?
I’d like to explore this thing about tragedy some more. So this woman comes in with a man. What’s so tragic?
Well, it’s more what happens next that’s really tragic.
Oh fine! You march to their table where they’ve already ordered a bottle of wine. You smash the bottle on the mans head, then, with the broken top of the bottle, slit your throat. Happy now?
What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?
I was just thinking. You know what I was thinking?
That I’m going to leave this pub and your crummy story.
No! You can’t do that. I’m the author. You’re the…
Yes, I know. I’m just the lowly protagonist. Bye.
You get up, put on your coat, and leave the pub, your glass unfinished on the bar. Moments later, all the patrons turn at the sound of screeching brakes and scream as your broken body is tossed upon the pub window. The screams continue as your corpse slides to the ground, leaving streaks of red in in its wake.
Like I said. Tragic.
(With a satisfied smile, takes story and files it away. Nothing worse than a lippy protagonist.)