Monday, January 23, 2012

"Deadlines and Soul Stealing" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

I was hip-deep in the middle of frantic writing fueled by coffee and Mr. Sketch grape markers when "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana blared from beneath a small pile of notes on my desk.

My cellphone.

I fished it out from the pile and put it on speaker. "Go away!" I said. "I have a deadline!"

"Thief!" cried the voice on the other end.

I recognized it.

Tammy Farmer. Book blogger. Who, along with cohort Holly Dell, ran the urban fantasy blog Midnight Readings.

"What are you talking about, Farmer?" I said. "And make it quick. I'm on a schedule."

"You stole that line," Farmer said with a slight drawl. "Jim Butcher had it on a t-shirt in a Suvudu interview with Patrick Rothfuss at Comic-Con."

"I've seen that interview" I said. "Isn't Rothfuss one of the guitarists on ZZ Top? Along with George R.R. Martin?"

"Swine!" said a different voice.

Holly Dell. The other book blogger. They always traveled in pair.

Always there are two, as the wise man once put it.

"Dell," I said. "I should've known I'd hear from you, too. How are the Alaskan wilds treating you?"

"Don't change the subject," Dell shot back. "How dare you steal from The Man."

" 'The Man'?"

"Yes," said Dell. "Jim Butcher himself."

"I didn't steal anything from him," I said. "T-shirt or otherwise. I'll bet you're both still miffed I nitpicked him in that review I wrote, right?"

"You called him an indie brownie, whatever the hell that is," said Farmer.

"I said Indy also used a Browning," I said. "Dresden pointed out that Indy just used a revolver. But he also used a Browning Hi-Power in the tavern sequence. A Browning is a semi-automatic."

A few months earlier, The Oblivious Plethora had run a review I'd written of Jim Butcher's novel Turn Coat, the eleventh in the Dresden Files series. It was a good read and I'd enjoyed it but simply pointed out what thought was a minor detail.

Farmer and Dell had immediately jumped on it and had been harrassing me ever since. Calling my phone and screeching at me. Leaving vile emails with instructions on folding my laptop into sharp points and inserting it into various uncomfortable body cavities. And sending me teddy bear heads in ornately gift-wrapped boxes

"Jim Butcher is an artist!" Farmer said.

"And a god!" said Dell.

Then a high-pitched trilling wail erupted from my cellphone and I leaped from my chair.

Jove's hairy nutsac! I'd heard it right, hadn't I? Both women had just squeed.

"Did you two just squee?" I said.

"None of your business!" they chorused.

"You did, didn't you. You both squeed."

"You're changing the subject again," said Dell.

"I don't have time for this," I said. "Why are you calling me for the twentieth time?"

"You're keeping track?" said Farmer.

"Yes," I said. "In case I need to turn state's evidence."

"We're giving you a warning," said Dell. "Don't you ever contradict Jim Butcher again."

"Ever!" said Farmer.

"Or we'll hunt you down like the English pig-dog you are."

"I'll have you know I'm a journalist," I said. "And a Professional. I'm free to write what I want. And if it means contradicting Jim Butcher or anyone else, so be it."

"Jim Butcher is a saint," Farmer retorted.

"I thought he was an artist and a god?"

"He helps save the boobs!" Dell said.

"Good for him," I said. "And I see he finally went with a shorter hairstyle."

"Don't you make fun of his hair!" Dell said. "He has awesome hair."

"Sweet Mother of Dingos!" I said. "He had a mullet at one point! I've seen pictures!"

"Vicious lies," said Dell. "It was a ponytail."

"And it was charming," said Farmer.

"And we'll have you know that we are Jim's close personal acquaintances!" said Dell.

"Yeah!" Farmer put in. "We spoke to him in Lexington last July. When he was at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. He knows us."

"Wait a minute," I said. "You went to see him speak?"

"Yeah, we did," said Dell.

"What of it?" said Farmer.

"You two don't live anywhere near Lexington," I said. "Farmer's in Arizona. And Dell's in Alaska. What did you do? Fly out to Lexington?"

"Blue Grass Airport," said Farmer.

That's called 'stalking'," I said.

"You'll rue that remark!" Dell cried.

"Pootyhead!" Farmer screeched.

I'd had enough. They were questioning my integrity as a journalist. And they had disturbed me in the mighty throes of writerly creation. That, in itself, was a crime. A travesty. A transgression of the highest order.

This would simply not do. They had to be shown this was unacceptable.

Plus, they were trying to stop the signal.

No.

The signal must go on!

"Call me again," I said, "and I'll personally find you and feed you both to a pack of rabid lawn gnomes!"

There came vicious gibberings and chatterings over the phone speaker. I tried to make them out but all I could decipher was howl howl gargle howl blargh weep howl bargle yowl howl howl snorfle howl.

Then the line clicked and they were suddenly gone only to be replaced by another voice.

"Is this Doctor Jericho?" it said.

"It is," I said. "Who's this? And make it fast."

"This is Patrick Rothfuss, fantasy author and alternate guitarist for ZZ Top. I am coming to steal your soul."

I screamed and hung up.

Come back next week for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

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