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.

Stillness for a beat. Then a crash. Sasquatch busted through the door, teeth gnashing, arms flailing, drool flying every which way. This was not the "Bigfoot" people usually think about. No, this was no mythical creature. This was the Seattle Sonics' mascot. He ran into Steven's bedroom with a mini basketball in each hand, standing about 5'8", weighing about 145 pounds. He jumped on top of the Futon, bounced five feet into the air, and dunked both basketballs into Steven's ceiling fan. He clung to one of the blades, swung around for momentum, and crashed through Steven's only window, feet first. Sasquatch fell three stories onto a Rhododendron bush below, breaking two ribs and losing his mask.

Not wasting any time, Steven rushed out of his room to Sasquatch's aide. But, as fast as Sasquatch busted into his room, he sped out of the backyard with comparable speed, hopping the fence to freedom. Steven didn't even attempt to chase after the beast man. Instead, he picked up the mask and threw it on. Like magic, Steven felt like he had a new power - a power to jump off of trampolines and dunk basketballs like the professional mascots of yore.

"Well, that was pretty weird," Steven said to no one in particular.


Konstantin cringed as he read his latest work. "What am I doing? What is this? Sasquatch? Give me a break. I can't believe this is what it has come to. I used to have such potential. That's what my professors all told me." Kon slammed his notebook onto the table at the Chik-a-licious Strip Club, sloshing beer onto the coaster.

"Oh come on. It can't be all bad." Peter, his oldest friend and drinking buddy, here to console him on his latest defeat, took a sip from his own mug.

"Listen. You don't know what it's like. I mean, sure, teaching doesn't pay much, but at least you got a job! I'm still living at home." Kon finished the last three fourths of his beer and re-filled.

"Hey, be careful with that. I don't want to have to hold the garbage can for you while you puke again." Peter frequently assisted his friend with his alcohol-related illnesses.

Konstantin managed a meager smile, one so burdened with worries it made Peter's neck hair stand at attention like a cat's ears. "I'll be fine. I just," a deep sigh, "I just have to keep at it. That's what they always told me. 'Keep sending those stories out there, you're bound to be picked up eventually.' What a load of shit!"

"Why don't you just go back to school? I know you hate the thought, but you could go back and learn to be a teacher - "

"No, no, no, no, no. No teacher. People have been telling me that for the last decade now; ever since I graduated. 'So, you're gonna be a teacher now?' 'No, Grandma. I'm gonna be a writer.' I used to say that with such enthusiasm, such blind hope, such cocky assurance! Now, I'm still saying that and it ceases to be cute. It ceases to be sexy. I sure do have the artist's life."

"Well, you've done poor. You can only go up from there, am I right?" Peter never was good at cheering up his friend with condescension. He quickly changed the subject. "You know what I heard today? You'll never believe it; it was the funniest thing ever. There were these two guys, I don't know if they were bums or just two old guys, but they were sitting on this bench in Certificate Park. I was walking my dog and I heard them talking, so I walked over to a nearby tree to listen in. They were having an actual argument about Monopoly."

"So, they were playing in the park? So what?"

"No, they were just arguing about the game. The one old guy, he was talking about how the thimble could kick the hat's ass. And the other guy, he was saying 'Oh no. The hat would stomp the thimble into the ground.' But, that first guy, he made a convincing argument, to my surprise. He said that, if those pieces were built to scale, the thimble would dominate in 'real life' because of the size similarity, and the fact that thimbles are metal, while hats aren't. I tell you, I could barely contain my laughter, so I had to run my dog outta there."

Kon didn't look amused. "You know what? I think I'm gonna head out. I've got some thinking to do."

"Hey, Kon! Why don't you put those old guys in one of your stories? I bet that would be funny."

"No thanks. I'm sure I can think of something. I'll see you later."

"You sure you're OK to drive?"

"No problem."


Steven heard the voices out in the hall. Those voices always woke him up, no matter how far away, no matter how quiet. He heard them laughing, he heard them jumping around, bouncing off the brick walls, shooting past the elevator, right through his wooden door, straight into his forehead. No one could nap more than an hour or two with those voices invading every possible inch of his dorm. Too late to drown them out with music, he decided to get back on his computer and write. He returned to his latest story, which he tentatively called, "(Sasquatch) career failure," and re-read what had been written the night before. He stopped at the end of page four.

"Where are you going, big guy? What am I going to do with you?"

Steven returned to his dorm earlier in the morning, but took the lack of sleep in stride with a nap. Everything looked like it would be going fine. He'd have enough time to finish his latest story by the end of the afternoon, and then have the entire evening to revise and correct. Tomorrow, stories would be due. A mad-dash for campus printers would cause a paper shortage for sure, that's why Steven printed his stories at home.

Steven took a seat on his back, on the floor, to try and conjure up ideas on how to finish his story. Just as he placed his hands behind his head, a knock at the door.

"Where have I heard that line before?" Steven asked himself. He stood up and opened. "What's up, Konstantin?"

"Hey, I was just wondering if you finished your story yet. You know, the one about me?"

"No, not done yet."

"Well, hurry up! I want to read it before you turn it in."

"You know, Kon. I've been fighting the urge to make you and Pete gay in the story."

"Dammit, Steve!" he exclaimed playfully. "You better not!"

"Oh, come on. At least you'd know it wasn't true. I'm sure you'll never meet anyone in my class; they wouldn't care anyway!"

"Listen, Steve," the smile abandoned his face. "You're not making me gay, you hear me? If you make me gay, I swear to God - "

"Kon! It's just a fucking story! Let it go. I was just kidding anyway; now leave me alone, I have to finish this!"


Usually, when Konstantin drove home drunk, he could count the streetlights on the right side of the road to know when he was home. The number was eight, but on this night, after eight, Kon knew that he had gone too far. It took him three tries before he realized that one of the lights was not working. He pulled into his parents' driveway more surly than usual. Bypassing the awkward greeting with two loving, though still distressed parents, Kon shuffled directly to his room, closing the door behind him.

Among the clutter of papers on the floor, one story stood out. This one in particular rambled on for about twenty pages, front and back, hand written, about a boy and a girl, in their early teens. It was written entirely in Instant Message form; just their conversations back and forth. Getting to know each other, little by little, but he didn't know how to finish it. Kon put himself in that place; he handed over his brain to these two characters and continued with the story. If anything would get published, Kon believed this to be it.

Forty minutes later: Kon's body lied face down on the mess of papers, ink smearing on his drool-covered face.

The next morning, Konstantin - disgusted with his total lack of a work ethic - decided he needed a deadline. A real deadline. One he would have to keep; otherwise he would die a failure. He read what had been written in the drunken haze the night before and decided to throw it all out. What had been legible had been crap. He took what he saved and spent the rest of the daytime hours typing it out. His lack of typing skills made this a most insufferable chore, but he refused meals or visitors until the chore had been completed. The entire mess of chicken scratches had accounted for fifty-five typed pages. At this point in the relationship of the characters, they were finally talking about meeting, though they lived 200 miles apart and were not yet of legal driving age. Kon decided that their meeting face to face could be written in regular prose and that would be how it would end.

"Kooooonstantin! Telephone!"


"School's out. Time to go get loaded. What do you say?" Peter sounded especially chipper this evening.

"I . . . ugh. I can't right . . . mmmph . . . now. I'm almost finished with my . . . unhhhh . . . story."

"What's the matter? You sound like you're fucking dying, man."

"I can't, I can't talk right now. If I don't finish soon - I'll talk to you later."

"Wait, what's going - "

It was becoming more and more difficult to type. The blood loss from his stomach made even the simplest of movements feel like climbing Mt. St. Helens on crutches. The sooner he could finish his story, though, the sooner he could call out for help. No one in the house had seen him all day, but they knew he was finally serious about writing, about finishing. Serious for the first time in years. Konstantin pounded out three pages, while bleeding to death, before that phone call. His spelling was growing erratic. Kon passed out at page 61, as the two characters finally met with a kiss in front of a train station.


"You killed me? Why would you do that?" Konstantin slapped the story onto the bed, unsatisfied.

"Hey, it never said you died. You just 'passed out.'" Steven protected his work against the unfounded criticism of his friend from down the hall.

"Oh come on. Let's get serious here. You killed me off and you enjoyed it! Didn't you!"

"Now that I'm sitting here talking to you, yeah! I'm enjoying it now! You know, I didn't have to even put you in this story, you know. I could have used anyone!" Steven turned in his seat, away from his never-satisfied reader. "Listen, I've got more work to do. I don't even think it's done yet."

"Are you going to bring me back to life?" Kon asked with doubt in his voice.

"No! You're gone! In fact, I'm going to make your life a complete waste. I'm going to make it so your parents send out your final story. Every response will be the same. Every response will start out with, 'We regret to inform you . . .'." A wicked smile came over Steven's face as he dismissed Kon from his room.

"Wait, hold on a minute. Before I go, let me ask you this: what are we supposed to take away from a story like that?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, what's the point? All it is is me, getting drunk, me failing as a writer, me killing myself, me still failing as a writer. What's the point of writing that at all?"

Steven thought for a moment.

"I guess, more than anything, it's a reminder to myself. I can use it as a motivational tool. Something to refer to, to remember that it could always be worse. That's the life I have to avoid; but I can't fear failure, I can't fear living at home in my late twenties. If I have to suck it up and take a job at Taco Bell, so be it. It could always be worse. And fear of failure is not an excuse to kill yourself."

"Yeah, well what about me? What about the people who won't be writers after college? What am I supposed to get from this?"

"I don't know. Who cares? Who said I wrote it for you anyway?"

"Okay! All right! Never mind, then. You coming to dinner?"

"Naw. Later. I've still got to finish this."

"Steve! I'm gonna be checking in on you! You better not plunge any knives into your stomach." Kon laughed at this, knowing it would irritate the author.

"God damn it, Kon! It's just a story. Jesus, I write about taking people hostage and murdering cheating girlfriends and becoming an alcoholic and getting hit by busses. You don't see that actually happening, do you? They're just stories. Now, leave me the fuck alone!"

Steven checked for spelling and grammar one last time before printing the story out. When he was finished, he thought to himself, "God, I really need to stop putting myself in stories. This is getting ridiculous."