An Uninvited Guest, short story by Ernie Stricsek at

An Uninvited Guest

An Uninvited Guest

written by: Ernie Stricsek


The study smelled like mahogany and leather. A Banker’s lamp on a large desk cast a soothing glow through its green shade. Light danced along the reddish-brown walls from a crackling fireplace. Angstrom was ensconced in an easy chair more tired, worn, and wrinkled than he was. His positions in the chair would range from slumped to sitting upright to leaning forward with elbows on his thighs. Deep in thought, he gazed at the fire, taking occasional sips of an amber liquid from a Glencairn perched on a side table.

So engrossed he initially didn’t hear the ring of his doorbell. Only the loud banging of the large brass pineapple door knocker finally roused him. Angstrom looked at his watch. “What the hell, who comes calling at 10 p.m.?” He looked over his shoulder, squinting in the direction of his front door. He couldn’t see the door; it was two rooms away, but he thought by looking hard in its direction, the wretch who was creating a racket at such a late hour would leave.

“Angstrom! Open the door! I know you’re in there. I see the flickering light of a fire! Open up!” The brass knocker beat a tattoo on the front door.

Angstrom exhaled, long, disgusted. He pushed himself up from the comfort of the leather chair and stomped to the front door. “Do you know what time it is? Leave me alone!”

“I need to tell you something, something serious. Let me in, I won’t be long.”

Angstrom let out another long exhale, unlocked and opened the door. He guided his visitor to the study and motioned for him to sit in another well-worn leather chair near the fireplace.

Settling back into his chair, he asked, “So what is this thing of great importance to tell me at 10 o’clock in the evening?”

“Oh, you know all too well why I am here. The same reason I visited you before.”

“You’re mistaken; you have no business here.”

“I know! I know you stare at that fire for hours….” The visitor stopped for a moment and looked at the Glencairn. He tried to speak again, “You stare, um… uh. Excuse me, what’s that in your glass?”

“Just some 12-year-old Red Breast.”

The visitor licked his lips. A long moment passed. Angstrom sat motionless, eyebrows raised, “what were you going to say about my staring?”

“Good God, Man! You are indeed a scoundrel! You sit there nursing a grand 12-year-old Irish whiskey and offer me none? Where are your manners? You scoundrel!”

Angstrom procured another Glencairn and poured his visitor two fingers of the Red Breast.

“Why are you here? Go see Cameron. You can hector him.”

“Hah! I’ll never visit Cameron! The pages he writes aren’t fit to line the bottom of a birdcage! He puts words on paper without thought. ‘This is a good word. I’ll fit it here. Same with this exclamation point. Bah, writer’s block is one thing he’ll never suffer from! But you, on the other hand…”
Angstrom didn’t let his visitor finish his sentence. “Nah, your game is not going to work this time.”

“Oh, I believe it will!”

“No, this is how it starts. You show up at my doorstep. I let you in, and the next thing you know, we are talking as though we are two 19th-century Gilded Age twits. Then I start writing like a stuffy old bird. I don’t talk this way.”

A sinister smile began to form on the visitor’s face, “But Angstrom, you weren’t writing anything. You were staring at your fire.”

“I was doing some research in my mind. And there’s the second seed of doubt you plant. I begin to overthink my story and get bogged down in the details. I begin to worry if my readers will spot incorrect dates, locations, things that are out of place for the time.”

The visitor was now grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

“Finish your drink and leave. You need to go so I can begin to write about our encounter.”

The grin disappeared, replaced by a look of defeat.

“Yeah, the blockade is cleared. When you finish that whiskey, you will return where you came from.”

Angstrom was struck by his resemblance to the visitor, who was now deflating like a balloon. He never finished his whiskey; writer’s block drifted up the chimney with the fire smoke.

Angstrom’s eyes flew open. The dream of his encounter with writer’s block energized him. He quietly slipped out of bed to avoid disturbing his wife and went to the study. Flipping open his MacBook, he typed an 800-word story about overcoming writer’s block and fired it off to his editor. He reached for his notebook and furiously began to plot his next novel.

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