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Death To A Writer
written by: Mark Kuglin
What most people would consider delusions of grandeur or wishful thinking at best, Lewis Clamp considered his due. For as long as he could remember, he knew it was his destiny to be a great writer. His every word greatly anticipated and ultimately cherished— when reading in his latest bestseller. Yet, despite all of his cockiness, Lewis was stunned when he got the phone call that informed him another one of his prized manuscripts— submitted by his writer friend and agent— had been rejected.
Prior to this rejection, each of Lewis’s previous ones had played out exactly the same way. He was momentarily stunned but his mindset quickly turned into a rage which he then channeled into his next project. However, this latest one was quite different. Within moments, it became an intensely bitter pill to swallow. He knew this manuscript was his best work— by far.
Later that day, Lewis sat on his usual stool— in an empty Pete’s Tavern— and studied his image in the mirror behind the bar. He was enraged to see his middle-aged face and emerald green eyes staring back at him— rather than seeing them on a book jacket.
His rage intensified— a moment later— when the side door to Pete’s suddenly opened and the sunshine it let in reflected a blinding light in the mirror. It was so intense, it forced Lewis to turn his head— in the opposite direction— and to look down towards the bar. As he did, he yelled, “Close the goddamn door!”
After he heard the door slam, Lewis waited a moment to allow his eyes to readjust to the semi-darkness. He then looked up in the mirror and was stunned to see that a ravishing, thirty-something, blue-eyed brunette had entered and that she had taken the stool next to him.
Embarrassed by his outburst, Lewis turned and faced her. He was about to apologize but she unexpectedly leaned in towards him and shushed him by placing her forefinger on his lips. But before Lewis could react or respond, she whispered four words— four words that would change his life— into his ear.
Upon hearing them, Lewis immediately called for his check.
Lewis and his mystery girl left Pete’s Tavern and drove to her apartment in silence. Each time Lewis tried to speak or ask a question— on the way out of Pete's and on the drive over—she quieted him with a shush and an unmistakable sexy wink.
After they arrived, Lewis escorted his mystery girl— per instructions— to her front door. However, he hesitated a moment— as she turned the key— and looked at her questioningly. She just smiled seductively and pushed the door open.
Once they were inside, she turned towards Lewis and broke the silence by saying, “My name is Crystal…All you need to know— for now— is that I’m going to make all of your dreams come true.” And with that, she reached behind her back, unzipped her dress and let it hit the floor.
Not long after they concluded their lovemaking, Lewis fell into a very deep sleep. When he awoke, he groggily rolled over and realized Crystal was gone. For a few brief moments, Lewis was concerned. However, a pair of possibilities quickly came to him. And after he had them, he rolled back over and fell asleep.
She's in the bathroom or she couldn't sleep…
When Lewis awoke— for the second time, he heard the unmistakable sound of a shower coming from the nearby bathroom. As he listened to it, Lewis laid on his back and stared up at the ceiling— for a few minutes— before finally swinging his legs over the side of the bed. As he sat up, he glanced down and realized he was still wearing the condom she’d insisted he'd use.
The sight of the condom caused Lewis to pause for a few moments and silently replay thoughts of his conquest. Thoroughly pleased with himself, Lewis stripped it off and threw it in the trash can next to the nightstand.
After Lewis finished getting dressed, he ventured out to the living room and took a seat on the couch. Nervously, he waited for Crystal to finish taking her shower. Although he was quite pleased to be the recipient of her sexual favors— and hoped there was more to come, Lewis also found himself perplexed.
What in the hell is she up to?
A few minutes later, Crystal walked into the living room and took a chair directly opposite Lewis. She then completely surprised him by saying— without preamble, “I hope you enjoyed the pot sweetener…You’ll get plenty more if you help me.”
“Pot sweetener?… What the…? ” Lewis asked with confusion before being cut off.
“We have a common enemy,” Crystal interjected with venom in her voice.
“Who?” Lewis demanded.
“Chuck Nelson, our mutual agent!” Crystal snapped back. “He’s a plagiarist!”
“Don't be absurd,” Lewis scornfully replied.
“I can prove it,” Crystal hissed back.
And with that, Crystal immediately got up and left the room. When she returned, she had four manuscripts in hand which she quickly thrust at Lewis. As he took them from her Lewis asked, “What the hell are these?”
“Our manuscripts and his versions,” Crystal retorted.
Lewis was so enraged by this revelation, it took Crystal twenty minutes to calm him down to a somewhat reasonable level. After she did, Crystal pointed out that they needed to act fast and that the only viable option— if they wanted to save all of their work— was a covert operation.
After a few minutes of deliberation, Crystal and Lewis decided they would wait until nightfall and then break into Chuck Nelson's office. Once inside, they would quickly gather their own work and then destroy all traces of his files— and their presence.
As far as Crystal was concerned, the plan went off like clockwork. However, Lewis had a vastly different experience. Everything was fine until the moment both of them stood outside Chuck Nelson's office door. It was then that Lewis sensed something was wrong. His suspicion was confirmed— a second later— when Crystal suddenly jammed a gun in his back and hissed, “One wrong move and you’re dead.”
Instantly afraid, Lewis froze in place and waited for instructions. His next one came— a split second later — and his fear intensified as he felt a needle being jammed into his back.
For the first few seconds, after Lewis regained consciousness, he had no idea what had happened. That changed and he became deeply afraid when he realized he was blindfolded, gagged and bound to a chair.
His fear intensified— a moment later— when his blindfold was suddenly removed. A split second later, his fear turned into abject terror. For at his feet lay an obviously dead but near perfect Crystal doppelgänger. The only difference, a bullet hole in the forehead.
For a brief moment, Lewis was stunned. But before he could process any of it, Crystal— who was standing directly behind him— ratcheted his terror up even further by derisively saying, “Welcome back Lewis…Let me introduce you to your companion.”
Crystal then stepped a few feet out in front of Lewis, pointed downward and said— in a faux gracious manner, “Meet Crystal Brown…She's the reason you're here.”
After a short pause— to allow Lewis to get over his shock and to regain his full attention, Crystal then mockingly added in rapid-fire, “Your books and hers aren't failures…Chuck never submitted them…You two are going to make me filthy rich.”
Hearing all of this enraged Lewis. However, the mention of the word me caused him to shoot Crystal an unintended quizzical look. “Ah, you caught that…Now you’re wondering…Where is Chuck?”
“To answer your question…He’s dead,” Crystal coldly continued. “He’s down the hall sitting on the toilet.” After another short pause— to let everything sink in, Crystal then added, “Chuck served his purpose…He got Miss Crystal here hours ago and had sex with her— just like we planned. After they finished, he shot her.”
Thoroughly pleased to see how all of this was tormenting Lewis— and by recounting her own cunning ingenuity, Crystal then added gleefully, “You should have seen the look on Chuck’s face when I shot him…It was priceless…He knew Crystal was supposed to die but he had no idea he was next.”
Upon hearing this, Lewis shot Crystal a second unintended quizzical look.
In response, Crystal shot back, “I did it while you were sleeping off our roll in the hay, you jackass!”
Thoroughly enraged, by the reminder of their encounter, Crystal then stepped forward and pummeled Lewis in the face until he blacked out.
Lewis regained consciousness— twenty minutes later— and was instantly alarmed by the sound of rapidly approaching sirens. For a brief moment, he thought he could escape. But then, Lewis heard the unmistakable sound of a voice amplified through a bullhorn.
“We have the place surrounded.”
Lewis’s trial— despite his incessant protestations of innocence— was over almost before it started. The prosecutor laid out the evidence but most of it was easily explained away by the defense— due to Lewis’s frequent visits to the office or its highly circumstantial— and very suspicious— nature.
However, one key piece of evidence— a condom found near Crystal Brown’s body— was irrefutable. This condom— the very one of Lewis’s Crystal insisted he use— sealed his fate.
Ten Years Later…
Just like every other day of his incarceration, Lewis sat brooding in his cell. He was suddenly snapped back to reality when Jenkins— an elderly prisoner from the cell across the corridor— called out, “Hey Clamp…I see your friend published your last book.” But before Lewis could respond he added, “It's called, ‘It’s Your Lucky Day’”
Upon hearing the title— the four words he’d come to hate with a passion, Lewis screamed, “Crystal…You bitch!” And then after a brief pause, he added, “Jenkins, you asshole... I shouldn't have told you anything…Why do need to taunt me!”
“I’m not,” Jenkins calmly replied and then asked. “But I am curious…After all this time, why are you still so bitter?”
“I’m a victim!” Lewis screamed. “That bitch framed me and ruined my life!”
“Can I offer a bit of advice?” Jenkins— once again— calmly asked.
“Why should I listen to someone who's in the same shithole I’m in?” Lewis angrily replied.
“It's true, we’re in the same physical place,” Jenkins replied. He then added— after a very brief pause, “However, we’re light years apart otherwise. I’ve used my time here constructively and have learned a great deal from my mistakes.”
“Just my fucking luck,” Lewis immediately snapped back. “I’m in hell and I get an asshole philosopher for a neighbor.”
Highly irritated by Jenkins’s lack of response and overall non-reaction, Lewis then sarcastically asked, “Pray to tell Jenkins…What's your wonderful bit of wisdom?”
“You need to accept that she expertly manipulated your ego— and your agent’s for that matter. You need to let it go.”
“Never!” Lewis screamed back. “I’ll never give that bitch the satisfaction!”
Upon hearing this Jenkins said— with resignation in his voice, “Then you better hope they're wrong about reincarnation.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Lewis angrily fired back.
“If they're right…You're coming back as a cockroach.”