I don’t even have an excuse this time, to be writing you. It’s not like he upset me. It’s not like that would be a valid excuse. He’s on a train home, arriving an hour earlier than I anticipated despite a twenty minute delay. He’s coming home to the warm embrace of my tired arms. He is coming home to celebrate an as-of-yet un-inked victory in his job hunt. I have four hours, and a messy apartment, and a glass of cold red wine. The floor is littered with crumbs, and I am alone, and I would prefer to remain that way. Inexplicably, I am thinking of you. You’ve become a goddamn ghost. Honestly, you don’t have the figure for it. You never did. I’d never describe you as gaunt.
I’ve been working on this book thing. The next great American novel, set in Vienna. Or the next great mediocre crime paperback, abandoned in the back pocket of an economy airplane seat on a flight from Vancouver to Seattle. Tossed away by the flight attendant, who says to her colleague, “Oh, my sister read this. She’s always reading that drivel.”
Thwush. Into the trash-bag it goes. Next to a crumpled sandwich wrapper. Stained with mustard. Not even recycled. Not even burned.
I am writing a book some people would love to burn.
Regardless, you should plan to see my name in every airport you deign to travel through two years from now. You should plan to see my ghost at every turn. I have ambitions. Grand ones.
None of them include actually sending you this letter.
Anyways, I rewrote this scene today. Important scene, viewing the scene of the crime. Original draft was a total yawn. Second draft, way better. Real work of genius. I called him, read him the new version, he was sitting on a delayed train listening intermittently to the announcements of his rapidly less and less impending arrival and the call kept dropping. He kept saying, “Last thing I heard was-” like he was actually listening. Allegedly, he was actually listening. But maybe his gasps of shock and awe got drowned out by the hazy phone signal and the hub-bub and the passengers shuffling into their assigned seats, and maybe the sound of my masterpiece had to contend with the gentle female voice of the announcer, reminding him softly that he was in Munich, and he was going to be stuck there for a while.
I should just call you. Unannounced. Say nothing of the time lapse, of the delayed responses. Of the unsent but sometimes publicly published letters of response and I should skip over the hello, or the context, and say,
“Hey, I rewrote the scene, want to hear the new version?”
As if you knew the old one. As if you knew what I’ve been up to. As if you had read the handful of letters I wrote but never sent.
I don’t even have your phone number.
How’s the weather where you are? How’s the whiskey? Does it still make you think of me?