They were standing on the lawn and the driveway. He
thought he saw some sneaking around the side of the house.
They were chanting something. He hesitated to ask his wife
what it was. It sounded like “Kill, kill, kill the book.”
And were those staves they were waving? They looked like
staves. Where the hell did they get staves? Not at the
Home Depot. He couldn’t understand their level of outrage.
Their faces were distorted by a vicious mixture of anger,
hate, fear, and disgust. All he had done was write a book.
OK, so it wasn’t the greatest book ever written. It wasn’t
The Red and the Black (which, come to think of it, wasn’t
the greatest book ever written either). But it was the
best he could do at the time. He had alligator-wrestled
thousands of words into submission. He had sat down to the
computer whether he felt inspired that day or not. He had
sacrificed his nerves and strained his brain cells. “Why?”
he asked as he stared out the window at the growing crowd.
“Why?” Although it was clearly a rhetorical question, his
wife attempted to answer it. “Because,” she said, “life is
too short to read a bad book.” She brushed a tear from her
eye and added, “Especially a long one.”