He just sat in his desk, wicked smile plastered on his face, silently laughing at the rest of the people in his class. They'd realized they'd been had. His grade would surely suffer for this, but he kept right on smiling.

Man, These Stories Write Themselves.

Ideas pop into Steven's head and he never knows why or how or when they will come. This time, he was at home. He does not visit Tacoma very often anymore; most of his friends now live in Seattle. It had been three weeks since he last went home to visit his family. As usual, his mother was out of town for the weekend, visiting her boyfriend in Kennewick. In the last month, he had seen her a total of five times. Once on Christmas, twice the week before, twice the week after. It would probably be another two or three weeks before he would see her again. His father was asleep. Never much for the night, his father always went to bed early, even on nights before his days off. His brother was downstairs, techno music blazing on the stereo. His dad didn't seem to mind, even though thumping bass could be heard from every room in the house. Alone, in his room, with nothing but boxers, a tank top, and five days' worth of fingernail growth, Steven sat in his broken leather chair watching his favorite television show on a videocassette that his father had taped for him. That's what he does at home, whenever he's not at his computer writing. That's where he was when he got his brilliant idea.

He couldn't wait to get this idea onto paper. Problem: "when the shit goes down, you better be ready." He quickly fled into the bathroom, grabbing a copy of a student's story that he had to read. Pen in mouth, he sat and let loose. In moments, he had written the first three lines seen at the beginning of this story, on the back of this poor student's paper. This made him as giddy as a car-crash survivor. He couldn't wait to wipe, finish his television show, play a game of minesweeper, and start typing what you see here.

Suddenly, a knock at his door swept Steven away from the story.

"What?" Irritated, loud, heard over the thumping bass.

"Did you order a pizza?" Steven's brother sounded perplexed.

"Huh? No. Why?"

"You've got the Dominoes guy here and he said that a 'Steven' ordered a large pizza with pepperoni and black olives."

"Dude, tell him to piss off," he said, with the door still closed. "It's got to be some kind of prank. It's 2:30 in the morning. There's no way I'd order a pizza at this hour."

"You come out and tell him."

"God damn it, why can't you just do this for me? I've got stories to write here. You're such a lazy bastard!" Then, under his breath, he continued, "Can't ever talk to strangers, fucking loser piece of shit. God damn, just learn to open up for Christ's sake. You can't have everyone else doing all the talking for you all your God-damned life."

When he reached the door, Steven put his smile on in front of the company and said, "Hi. Sorry about this. I didn't order any pizza. Someone must have pranked you guys. As you can see," Steven opened up his wallet in front of the pizza guy, "I have no money. So, obviously, I didn't order this pizza."

Pizza man, with the nametag "Carl" smiled at the shorthaired young man in front of him. Carl stood about 6'3" with long, dark brown hair, and about three day's worth of beard growth on his face. He wore the customary Dominoes paper hat; his white Ford Escort had the Dominoes logo on top. Carl opened the pizza box, revealing not a pizza, but a handgun, and said, "As you can see, I didn't bring any pizza." He grabbed the gun and asked, "May I come in?"

Steven thought, "This tale isn't going to end well." Then, he realized, "Well, look at the man in control, of course this isn't going to end well."

"Look's like you're the boss," Steven sighed. Depressed once again.

"You look like a smart enough guy, Steven. Here's what I'm gonna do for you. I'll give you one request. You tell me something you want to do before you die, and I'll let you do it. Keep in mind, though, that you will die. There's no escaping that. That's one thing you can be very certain of."

Steven thought for a moment. He had frequently wondered what it would be like to be in this situation. He knew that a request of "not shooting me" wouldn't fly with someone so intent on having him dead. Then, he thought about what would stay his execution the longest. For some reason, the first thing that popped into his head (which now dominated over all other thoughts in his head at the moment) was watching the entire Godfather trilogy. That's a solid nine hours and one minute of life that he could cling to. This is what he proposed.

"Well, that's surely fine. I'll gladly grant you this wish. However, I noticed your brother is still awake. He's downstairs now, responsible for that awful noise filling the house. I imagine you also have a father sleeping somewhere in the house. I can't have them knowing about me, or this occurrence. Nine hours from now, it will be about 11:30 in the morning. If either of them comes upstairs, before I finish you, then I'll be forced to kill them as well. I don't want to do that, but I will if it comes to that. So, you have a choice. You can risk watching all three movies, while killing the rest of your family, or you can choose something else. Go ahead. Think it over. Take your time."

"OK," now panic started to set in. "Can we go into my room first? That way, my brother doesn't have to see you with that," Steven pointed to the gun, then continued, "and you don't have to hurt anyone else. Then, we can think this over."

Steven knew his dad didn't have to work the next day. He also knew that his dad never left the house on his days off; so he would surely find Carl walking out of his room a little unnerving, to say the least. To be safe, Steven figured he had five good hours before his father would wake up to use the bathroom. After all, he had drunk a good amount of beer the night before.

Carl took a seat on Steven's black Futon, sitting on top of his Rolling Stone magazine and his two Jimi Hendrix CDs that he brought from school. The gun sat on Carl's lap and he never took his eyes off of his target. Steven sat at his computer, back to Carl. He put his hands to his ears, trying to block out the breathing of the man ten feet behind him. When he opened his eyes, he saw his Word Document staring back at him from his monitor. "That's it!" he thought.

"I know what I want to do," he said as he faced his executioner. "I want to sit here and write my revisionist life story. Then, I can email it to my family as the last thing I ever write. I'm sure they'll love it and who knows? Maybe I can even get something published." Steven turned back around and said quietly to himself, "Yeah, maybe with my death, this will get me some real posterity."

Without waiting for a response, Steven started typing away.

Growing up a po' white youth on the hard streets of Kent, Washington wasn't all bad. Sure enough, we always had food on the table. Papa always provided well for his family. Naw, we never had any of them luxurious name brand jeans or colas. We weren't much on televisions being bigger than 13 inches. Never did have time for no cable. But, we managed to entertain ourselves well enough.

I had myself a nice little dirt hole to play in. I carved little wooden cars from the sticks I found in the alley behind my house, although, they weren't much more than rectangle blocks, with little divots for wheels. I made intricate racing scenes. Imagination is key when you're growing up in poverty.

In school, I always got the A's. My parents always had a hunch that I would be smarter than the normal member of my family. I walked, talked, read earlier than all of my other siblings, six of them total. My teachers saw the gift and they placed me into the smarty-pants classes by the second grade. I found I had a real knack for writing when I was 10, and one of my poems was printed in the town newspaper. From then on, you could never find me without a notebook and at least three pens, black, blue, and red. Different colors for different moods.

My first short story, written at the age of 12, in my seventh grade literature class, entitled, "Sports Cards and Wine," went on to win me a school wide award in the arts. The principal even gave me a certificate. Three months later, I sent in another short story, "Caged Terror," into Readers Digest and they printed it in their next issue. I won the Nomad Award at age 14 for my one act play, "Mom Saw a Murder." From that point on, high school was a breeze.

I found I was never lacking for a date. I always carried my latest published work around with me, just in case the ladies needed a reminder about whom they were meeting. By 16, I lost my virginity to a basketball cheerleader; I can't remember her name at the moment. Let's be honest here, there's really too many to count. I can't remember every single bimbo I've had affairs with.

I'll tell you this, though, my happiest day was the day Harvard sent a recruiter over to my house, at this time in Tacoma, Washington. Mr. Faith was his name. He told me that I would be getting a full ride, free room and board: the works. But, I declined. That's how much I love my family. I decided to go to the University of Washington and schlub it up in a dorm setting for four years. Best decision I ever made.

Steven stopped here. He realized that the last two pages he had written were quite possibly the dumbest two pages in the written English language. There would be no way that he would be remembered for that monstrosity. He highlighted the last two pages, deleting them, and decided to start fresh.

He couldn't help but look at the clock. That took a half hour of his life. A half hour! He's never going to see that time again. Wasted on drivel! Bah!

Steven looked back at Carl, who only sat staring at the back of Steven's head, smiling wickedly. "3am," he mocked. "Better hurry, if you want to write that masterpiece."

Steven faced front and center once again. This time with a new resolve. Problem was: there was no idea to put onto the screen. "On the floor," he thought to himself. "Sit and meditate on this for a while. Come back with something great."

"How'd you get that sore on your lip?" she asked him when he entered the door of their two-bedroom apartment.

"Well, you know how it is. I was going down on this chick and, well, let's just say this: they just don't check whores like they used to. Now, I've got this case of Herpes that will keep flaming up! I can't believe my horrible luck."

"Aww, poor baby. Let's get those clothes off and see if Bambi and I can't make you feel better . . ."

"No, better stay away from the erotic fiction," Steven thought, coming back into reality. "Once you go down the porno road, you'll never be taken seriously again.

"I can't believe I meditated for an hour and that's all I could come up with. God, if I don't finish this soon, I'm gonna be a dead man with nothing to show for my life. I feel like such a terminal Cancer patient, it's not even funny." With that thought, Steven was off and running again.

You know you're going to die within two weeks. Your doctor told you so. It's spread to your lymph nodes. You're finished, just like so many others in your family. There's no use in wasting your last moments with depression, anger, bargaining, or denial. You have to get straight to acceptance, so you can get on with living.

You walk to your refrigerator. Nothing but vegetables, chilled water, tofu, and soy milk. You decide to leave. Eating healthy for the last ten years, compulsively worrying about catching some horrible, terminal disease, all for nothing. You regret not eating more hamburgers, more greasy pepperoni pizza, more corn dogs slathered in mustard. You regret avoiding adventure. You wish you had taken your friends up on their offer to go skiing two months ago. You feel a desperate pang to go skydiving. Isn't that the activity? The one all people who are dying want to do? You've been afraid of heights all your life, but now you have nothing to lose. Free fall for thousands of feet. See how it feels to lose your bowels and your lunch at the same time. See how it feels to have your breakfast burrito smacking your exposed face at God knows how many miles per hour.

You wish you'd spent less time in front of your television and more time in church. You never really fully accepted God into your life, but now you wish you had. Your family prays for you as you think. You know it would be pointless. A lifetime of laziness, gluttony, and pride will surely do you in. Last minute repentances are done by phonies. You don't want to be remembered as a phony. You wish you'd asked out that girl from the newspaper. She seemed so nice when she took your story to the editor last Monday. You'd go to her now. You have nothing to lose. But, you don't want any pity love. You're proud, remember?

You're having evil thoughts now. You know you could get away with anything, and it wouldn't matter. You could rob a bank, you could take hostages, you could shoot the teller for pushing that God-damned button right after you told her not to! You could walk right up to your local slob of a politician, shoot him dead, and be known as the "Terminal Assassin." You could go on a killing rampage and disappear; just like in the movies! Be the next serial killer. Be the man the FBI looks for for the next decade, even though all of your killings happened in a two-week period. You could make up your own signature! Shove a pen into the victims' throats. Each one black, like your cold, lifeless heart. Hack writers will publish stories about you in the National Enquirer; pretentious musicians will write terrible songs about you.

Or, you could find just one man. You could seek out a college student, perhaps home for the weekend visiting his family. You could disguise yourself as a pizza deliveryman, walk up to his door, and hold him captive. You could grant him one wish, like some twisted genie, giving your victim a brief reprieve from his imminent death. You could sit behind him, pointing a gun at the base of his head, just waiting for this college student, this aspiring writer, to finish on his computer so you can shoot him dead and flee the scene. No, you won't grab national attention, but you will be the most notorious person this family has ever come across. Really, what's more important? Fame or centralized notoriety? In the national eye, you'll be soon forgotten. For this family, you'll be a legend!

You sit there, waiting. Your victim looks like he's almost finished with his story. You start the ritual by screwing in the silencer. No need to wake up the whole house when you've only come to kill one person. Grab your glasses from your inside jacket pocket, put them on. You see him turn his head and look back at you for one final moment. He puts the finishing touches on his story, and folds his hands on his lap. You stand. Walk over to his body. He doesn't look at you; he just holds his breath. You take aim, touching the barrel of the gun to the back of his head. Cock the hammer back.

Steven seemed pleased with the result he found. He saved the copy of his story onto his desktop and titled it "Final Story Number 3." At this time, he looked at the clock and saw 6:30 staring back at him. "One hour to spare," he said quietly, thoughtfully. Steven turned to look at Carl, to give him the go-ahead.

The room was empty. Steven shut down his computer. "That'll be enough writing for now. I've got to get some sleep," he said aloud to himself. He took his position on the Futon, pulling the blanket up to his neck. Before he passed out, he thought, "Hmm, that ended better than expected."