Change of Image

Clint Gage

  • Strange – 5 Pages –

For one man it was his office. For the other, it was just another place to vent. Books line the entire office wall. The man behind the desk was immaculately dressed. The other looked like a grunge fan. His clothes were beyond worn.

“What the FUCK are they doing to me!” The young writer, in the natty clothing, paced the length of the office.

“Calm down…it’ll be okay…it’s just…” The agent tried calming him down.

“These are my words they are messing with!”

“It’s just a book,” the agent tried to calm down his client.

“This is my book,” the writer exclaimed.

“Of course, it is…and, it is a fantastic book.”

“It’s just another bestseller?” The writer challenged his agent’s brush off.

“Baby, that’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

“Sure it is…It’s not that important…What do you want from me?”

“Well!”

“Well what?” He waited for an answer, “WHAT?”

“Its not like you’ve come out with any new books…” the agent hemmed.

“Because, they keep changing my words…My words…MY WORDS! Can you understand that?” The hip writer took a moment to size up his agent, “No, you wouldn’t understand that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You just sit there and live off of my words…Living off the commission.”

“You think that’s why I’m here? Is that all you think of me?” The agent leaned back in the chair and stared at his client disbelieving what he had just heard, “you really think that all I want is the goddamn ten percent?”

“Why else are you here?”

“I keep hoping that maybe…maybe, you’ll get off your ass and write a sequel. I keep waiting.”

“Why bother after the changes they made in the last one?” The writer
slumped into a nearby chair.

“How many rejection letters did you get before I gave you a shot?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You struggled for years! Hell, you lived in a forsaken desert of despair.”

“It was awhile,” the writer agreed reluctantly.

“YEARS! You wallowed in obscurity until I made you what you are.” The agent stood up and stared out his office window, “There are thousands of writers out there. But, after I found you there was only one. You…And, your book changed the world.”

“Then you let them change it.”

“Publishers will do that.”

“No one understands,” the writer caressed his scarred wrists.

“I’ve been here, trying.”

“You sit down and create something, hoping they enjoy it. And, then you watch them destroy it so quickly. They just rip it apart,” The writer mumbled to himself.

“Are we talking about the book?”

“Yeah,” the writer was clearly distracted.

“Are you okay?”

“Who cares anymore?”

“You’re a great writer,” the agent tried to calm his client down.

“It was an epic novel…It took me…sometimes, it seems like forever to write.”

“It was amazing.”

“You write vivid characters hoping to inspire just one person. Then they change the words and people jump on a bandwagon demanding more.” The writer leaned back in the chair. And added with a touch of spite, “fuck them all…they act like they own me.”

“They feel a certain right after purchasing your novel.”

“I’m sick of all of them. I’m sick of calls in the middle of the night asking for the answer,” the writer paused. “If I had the answers I would have put them in the book.”

“The publisher wanted a happier ending.”

“I gave him a happy ending.”

“Why did you have to kill the hero?”

“To show the world what happens to a hero,” the writer was still angry.

“Come on? That can’t be true.”

“No, it isn’t.” The writer paused and looked up at his agent, “Do you really want to know?”

“Of course.”

“I was trying to show mankind that one man could make a difference.”

“You’re at the top of the charts…you showed them that,” the agent was still worried about his clients mental health.

“No one gets it…no one understands.”

“What’s it all about?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I thought I just answered that question, of course.”

“It’s about mankind’s need to take care of itself.”

“Well, you know what they said.”

“What?”

“Not enough sex,” The agent sat back down and shrugged his shoulders.

“Why is sexual activity needed in every novel?”

“It sells,” the agent answered and then added, “Sex or violence. Both are preferred.”

“I’ve got violence in there. Hell the opening is all war. And, what about some of those early relationships?”

“Not enough detail.”

“Detail is for pornography…not for a novel.”

“Porno sells. I don’t have to remind you that your book isn’t.”

“ITS A BESTSELLER!” The writer stood up throwing his hands in the air.

“It was. Not anymore.”

“No one cares anymore,” The writer was clearly despondent.

“Times are changing.”

“Times have always been changing.”

“I concede the point…The difference now, is that you do not have a best selling novel…nor, do you have a sequel for me.” The agent was beginning to get to the point.

“What do you want?” The writer paused, “I can’t shit an epic!”

“It’s not like I’m asking for a miracle…just another book.” The agent was clearly frustrated by the prospect of selling the same book for another year. “No one cares about epics…give me a good sleazy story…and you’re right back on top.”

“Maybe, I don’t belong on top,” the writer looked down at the floor and accepted his fate. Both men sat in silence.

“I want to know what your plan is?”

“I don’t believe in plans.”

“This is why we’re having this conversation,” the agent attempted to make eye contact.

“Can we sell the movie rights?”

“Maybe, they’ll want to change it into an action film…Maybe, get a big star and lots of guns, some explosions.”

“Is there money in movies?”

“Oh yeah…”

“Really?”

“Maybe, we could get you directing?” The agent asked an open-ended question.

“I could do that.”

“Real money is in acting or producing. But, you could make a good chunk of change with the rights.”

“I’m not much of an actor…but, I got a great sense of humor…Maybe, a comedy?”

“Comedy…Yeah, we could make that work. With nudity?”

“I can do that…sleaze sells right?”

“You’d have to move to Los Angeles,” The agent said.

“I like the sound of that. Sounds like my kind of town.”

“Well, the name doesn’t mean quite what it sounds like,” the agent laughed.

“Let’s do it.”

The writer walks out of the room smiling. The Agent sighs and pulls out his cellular phone. He dials and waits for an answer.

“Hey baby! How’s the coast…. Great…listen I got this writer I’m going to send over. He’s a little washed up in publishing, but he can work miracles…Really! Listen, I would appreciate it if you would give him some of your time. Show him the ropes…. Great…thanks,” the agent leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a moment. The door opened and his secretary walked in and smiled. The Agent looked up to face her. “What’s up?”

“I’ve got…Mr. of Nazareth waiting.”

“SHIT! Father and son in the same day? What did I do to deserve this hell?”

“What should I tell him?”

“Send him in.”

The Secretary turned to walk away…then stopped and turned around.

“What?” The agent asked.

“Was that really God?”

“Yeah…”

“He looks good for a man his age.”

Christ barged in; his anger is displayed all over his face.

“I am sick to death of living in my father’s shadow! I have needs!” Christ paced back and forth, “do you know how frustrating it is when you make things happen, you are the reason that people get what they get in this world, but they blow you off…some kid just asked for my autograph. He thought I was a member of some new grunge band.”

“I understand. Come on, we’ll talk.”

“Was that my dad?”

“Yes it was.”

“Demanding son of a bitch. Isn’t he?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“Your Dad ever ask you to be nailed to anything?” Christ barked.

“What can I do for you?”

“I need a change in image. I need to shake things up a little.”

“One word,” the agent smiled, “porno?”

Christ returned the smile and added, “Two words…Mary Magdalene.”

“I’ll get the paperwork.”


Originally Posted 11/15/2003

More Strange Stories…

Clint Gaige

He is a published poet, essayist and novelist. Nominated for 2 Pushcart Prizes, and 5 books. He has also been a script doctor and screenwriter for over 15 years. As a filmmaker, he has directed a number of short films, a full length film and 2 television series. Most recently, he is the head writer/co-creator of Shotgun Mythos and the Co-Creator/Collaborator of Classroom Moments. He has directed nearly 100 episodes of television.

http://www.ClintGaige.com

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