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The Book I Will Write #32

The Book I Will Write by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. The Book I Will Write is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, and was recently living at the library. Now he’s been kidnapped by an organization known as The Zeppelin Society, who needs Fleming to write a letter to the FAA requesting permission to conduct a test flight of their experimental zeppelin. This latest email comes from the editor’s boyfriend, Seamus.

MY HANGOVERS ARE STARTING TO NOT BE WORTH IT

To John Henry Fleming,

I’m writing to you on Roberta Hollymore’s phone. The phone ran out of batteries, and she asked me to take it home and charge it.

Roberta’s still in jail. Every time they’re about to let her out, she causes a disturbance. Yesterday she was yelling about the food. The day before that she made one of the guards cry after he found out she was an editor and showed her one of his poems. Apparently, she memorized it, recited it for everyone who passed her cell, and made fun of it the rest of the day.

It’s an unpleasant situation, and I don’t like going back. I think she’s been telling stories in there. I’m looked at strangely by the other prisoners and guards.

Still, I’m dutiful to my ladyfriend. I’m recharging her iPhone. While doing so, I couldn’t help but notice your name prominent among her recent contacts.

Trust me, I’m not a jealous man. As a matter of fact, I have something of a reputation for sharing.

But I am a curious man. So I hope you’ll permit me to query you about your relationship with Roberta. I haven’t heard her mention your name, and if indeed she’s seeing you on the side, I feel it’s within my rights to know.

Roberta insists we don’t have a future. But that’s mainly because she insists that there is no future. I think she’ll come to her senses. Jail can be a mood-altering experience. So I’ve heard. Just visiting Roberta in jail has caused me to temporarily stop drinking. I’m sorry if this letter lacks the joie de vivre I’m known for.

In recent weeks, Roberta has made mention on several occasions of “the little prick who replaced my dog.” She says these things unprovoked and seemingly out of the blue, which makes me think that whoever this “little prick” is, he’s on her mind a lot. Could you be the gent she’s referring to?

It occurs to me that I, not you, may be the other man. In that case, I don’t mind playing the role. Outside of jail, Roberta and I have fun together. With your blessing, we might continue our entertaining journey together, a journey that has no destination outside the pleasures of the moment.

Sadly, some of the pleasures I seek Roberta has not been generous enough to share with me. Some yes, others not. Could it be that she’s awaiting your approval?

Forgive me if I’m off base. I need to call a cab and get down to the jail now. But, quickly, if I’m not far from the truth, I hope you’ll consider a favor. If you are indeed Roberta’s primary lover, and if indeed you, like me, are open to sharing, would you please give Roberta your blessing to continue? My hangovers are starting to not be worth it.

Yours in Mutual Admiration,

Seamus L.

Sent from my iPhone

 

 

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About John Henry Fleming

John Fleming's stories have appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, and Carve, among others. He is the author of The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel, and Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary. He teaches creative writing at the University of South Florida and is the founder and advisory editor for Saw Palm: florida literature and art. He blogs at johnhenryfleming.com.

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