Ashley and Jeremy
“For Ashley and Jeremy,” Sidney says, then bites the pen’s clicker. “Shit, what else should I write?”
The little box with the seven promotional copies of The Face of Fear – ‘Yeah, promotional copies, that sounds official as fuck,’ – sits next to the wheels of Sidney’s wheely chair. At long last the book is done; after a month and a half of constant working, Sidney’s dream has come true. It’s not a lifelong dream, nor is it something he ever thought he wanted for himself before the idea was given to him in Bogspekti Park his first night back from college, but still it’s a dream.
“Kind’a feels like a dream,” Sidney says softly to himself. “I can’t believe I did it. I didn’t think I’d ever do anything after I flunked out of college, I thought I was a failure.”
Sidney shrugs, then signs his name darkly on the title page of his parents’ copy of his first novel.
“I was afraid I’d be trapped in that dropout mindset forever, but I looked into the face of fear.” The sheer cheesiness of what he just said brings chills to his spine. Sidney chuckles despite himself. “I looked into the face of fear… and I prevailed. For Iuqon the Mage, for Ram’rl the Unfallen, and for the endless wood of The Hillside Commons… I prevailed. And now I have my first book.”
And last, but certainly not least:
Know what? Yeah, why not. He’ll probably get a kick out of it.
“Dude’s sure got a weird-ass name,” Sidney says of Mister Kyng. “Wonder how his folks came up with that.”
Meh, they probably had a good reason; most things that happen do, after all. One by one Sidney drops the books back into their box – after taking his copy out and putting it with his Dark Tower books, of course – then picks the box up and drops it on his desk, pinning the journal to the weathered wooden surface.
“I wish you were alive, Journal,” Sidney says with folded arms. “I talked more to you about the book than to anybody else. Hell, I talk to you more than I talk to anybody else in general. I used to, at least. Not so much anymore.”
Without reason Sidney’s bare jawline begins to itch. He scratches it absentmindedly.
“I bet we’d be really good friends, Journal.”
Journal says nothing. The air is being crushed from its pages by the lightweight box of books, but that’s not what’s stopping it.
“You’d probably want me to celebrate tonight. Maybe go out in the woods and smoke some weed, just like the good ol’ days.”
Journal continues not to speak.
“You know what…” Sidney Blake says, rubbing his beardless chin as though there were a beard there. “That’s not a shitty idea. I wonder if I still have that old tent.”
Sidney crosses his room and drops to the floor. Beneath his bed is a whole hoarder’s den of stuff – sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, an electric typewriter, four boxes (two colorless, two blue with light blue animal silhouettes) containing Wildlife Explorer binders filled with four-page card-things with all sorts of nifty information about wild animals that Sidney collected as a kid, enough shoeboxes filled with full notebooks that he doesn’t care to count them, and yes, there it is, sitting a’wait in its navy blue bag, the old Ozark Trail two-’man tent that Sidney never once took into the woods to go camping.
Not yet, at least.
“I don’t think I’ve ever even slept in this thing,” as he unzips the zipper. No dust flies out like dirty bats, nor does the smell of mildew rise from within the sarcophagus. “I bet there are still cooksie crumbs in there from the old days.”
Mayhap there are, mayhap there are not; he won’t find out now, because opening the tent up in his bedroom would be asinine at best. Sidney zips the tent bag back up and takes it with him to his desk where he slides the box of books into his hands. His journal falls to the floor.
Sidney Blake looks at his journal named Journal lying there on the floor, closed and face-down. Shrugs.
“Whatever, I’ll pick it up later. It’s just a notebook.”
Indeed it is; out the door, out another door, down the stairs, and out a third door Sidney goes, books and tent in hand. He skips down his front steps, ambles smilingly to his trusty ol’ sedan, and plops his haul down on the passenger seat. Closes the door with his butt, walks around to the driver side, and starts the car before the door is closed.
“Oh wait,” Sidney says to himself, then takes his phone out of the center pocket of his hoodie. Scrolls through his contacts. Taps one, presses the green phone icon. Waits as the device rings in his ear.
“Yes, my son?”
“Hey mom, the books came today!”
“Really? That’s great, honey! Did you call Mister Kyng?”
“Yeah, a few days ago. I’m’a swing by the post office tomorrow and drop his copy then.”
A short pause. “Why not just do it today, honey?”
Sidney shrugs even though his mom can’t see it. “I don’ow. Don’t really feel like it, I guess. It’s not a big deal, he said there was no rush anyway.”
“Sidney,” Sidney’s mom says in that way all moms say the name of their sons. “Don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today.”
“Yeah’yeah’yeah, I know,” Sidney blows her off. “I wan’a drop off all the other copies first anyway. Speakin’a’which, when are you and dad going to be home?”
Ashley gasps. “Do we get a copy of your book, too?!”
“Yeah, of course,” he chuckles. “If you want one, anyway.”
“Of course we do!”
“Well that’s good,” Sidney says, “‘cause I already signed one for you guys.”
“Oh Sidney, your father is going to love it.”
“As he should!” Sidney quips haughtily. “So uh, when are you guys go’n’a be home?”
“Probably not until around sixish, it’s my turn to stay and clean all the stations and there’s a pep rally at the high school.”
“Oof,” Sidney oof s. “Pep rally on Friday the thirteenth. Talk about a day of War.”
“Nothin’, it’s from the book.”
The Mother Blake simpers with pride. “All right, Mister Author, makin’ references to your own work.”
“Well, y’know,” Sidney says, stepping back out of his car. “Listen, I uh, I think I’m go’n’a miss you guys tonight. I’ll leave the book on your bed, cool?”
“Miss us?” his mom says nervously, as though her son was about to announce, ‘Over the phone?!?!?!?’ that he’s moving out. “What do you mean?”
As he’s climbing the steps, Sidney explains how after he delivers the books he’s planning to set off for The True Commons and go for a camping trip to celebrate. “I’m go’n’a see if Keaton and Carl want to come too, for old times’ sake.”
“It’s a little chilly for camping, no?”
“Nah, definitely not,” Sidney decides as he places the first signed copy of The Face of Fear to lean on the pillows on his parents’ bed. “I still have that big camo sleeping bag from the one week dad decided to get into hunting.”
“Oh god, I remember that,” Ashley reminisces. “You guys slept out in the backyard–”
“–and a chunky raccoon pawed at the tent and dad got scared and decided against it forever and ever, oh yeah,” Sidney finishes. “Dude thought it was a bear. Will never forget that.”
“I’m go’n’a remind him of that right when he gets home tonight,” Ashley promises, more to herself than to her son. “But, anyway… well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then, Sidney.”
“Yup, see ya tomorrow, mah.”
“Congratulations on the book,” Ashley adds. “Seriously, this is a big deal. I’m really proud of you, and so is your father. You should be proud of yourself, too.”
“Thanks, mom. I definitely am.”
“It’s not often someone tries to make something of themselves in this town,” she adds again. “I don’t think there’s ever been a writer to come out of Logger’s Pond, either.”
“Not until now,” Sidney corrects. “Hey, but I got’a go, I wan’a get to the library before Tori goes home.”
“Okay sweetie, I’ll let you go. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Sidney climbs upstairs and grabs the thick and fluffy camouflage sleeping bag from under his bed, glad his mom reminded him of it, and then grabs his pillow, too. Halfway out the door he stops and eyes his weed jar, and grinder, and rolling papers, and RAW authentic tips, and that joint he rolled the night Victoria came over and he forced her to open up about her uh… interesting parents, stored safely inside the weed jar. The paraphernalia looks at him in a way very similar to the way Tori looked at him when they laid down on her bed the night of the Halloween party at her parents’ house.
“Yeah, why the fuck not?” Sidney figures. “I’ll only write my first book once; might as well celebrate it right, right?”
Evidently, that’s right. Sidney stuffs all his weed supplies into the rolled-up sleeping bag – he also pockets his pocketknife, just because – and carries his haul out to the car, shoving the sleeping bag into the space below the glove box and dropping the pillow casually onto the passenger seat.
“All right,” Sidney says as he closes the driver’s side door again. “One down, four to go.”
This has been the first subchapter of the last chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~