The Moose in the Room

“Good evening,” the man said. “I’m Fine Howareyou, and welcome back to, ‘My Way, or the Hemingway,’ in which we have intimate, one-on-one discussions with woefully depressing creative types for some reason.”

“Hello,” the woman replied.

“Shut-up,” the man hissed.

“Sorry.”

“Tonight,” the man continued, only now utterly pissed, “we’re in the alley behind a clinic of some sort with our guest, Anna Moose, former hotel clerk, or resident–“

“Clerk,” she said. “I worked the front desk.”

“I don’t care,” the man said. “Either way, she’s now some fancy-pants poet something-or-other who wrote some bit of whatever about a bad day at work.”

“You don’t know who I am, do you?”

“I don’t do poetry.”

“You don’t do poetry?” Anna Moose replied.

“Anna,” the man said, not giving an assing fart about anything really. “I think the world frankly doesn’t care, but my job insists that I pretend to care to know, ‘Why poetry?'”

“I can’t do this anymore,” she replied.

“The interview or the poetry?” the man asked. “Please say it’s the poetry.”

“None of it’s true.”

“What’s not true?” the man continued, as a man is inclined to do when paid to care. “Your poem? Were you not really held hostage by domestic terrorists plotting to overthrow the local housing association if they weren’t given a quarter of a billion dollars, an Apache helicopter, and direction’s to Lincoln’s golden, precious jewel-bedazzled tomb?”

“None of it happened. Not a word.”

“It’s all a lie?”

Her head sagged, and her voice got all deadly serious all of a sudden like. “An utter fabrication. A linquisitical falsification of an otherwise uninspiring evening, almost as if the absence of purpose or meaning in my abusively, oppressively underpaid labor propelled my pen until its ink was spent and I, soaked in the afterbirth of my poeting, rolled over and fell asleep until someone caught me and reported it to the manager.”

“But, why poetry?” the man asked.

“Oh, I thought I could get away with it. I thought I could pass-off some bit of well-worded fiction.”

“But, why poetry?” the man persisted.

“Yes, yes. Alright,” she huffed. “Nobody gave a shit when it was a mostly-written blog post, a half-finished novel, or a completely half-baked, quarter-assed screenplay.”

“Seems like a long way to go to get somebody to read your work.”

“I mean, have you read Hotel: Zero? Who the Hell could possibly swallow that five-hundred page suppository unless I passed it off as some sort of introspective stream of consciousness reflexively written mid-hostage crisis?”

“Fair point.”

“I certainly didn’t think it’d ever get this far. How was I supposed to know you’d all blow it up into book deals, movie contracts, pornographic satires, and such?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not like this terrorist attack made the local news, did it? Nobody thought to do any damn research until I said anything till now. And why? Because you all had a good story to sell. Certainly sold better than this trite. You know, I have to be known for this thing either way – real, or not. You think I want that? I was supposed to be the next Victor Caramba, or Misty Weathers.”

“Who?”

She leans forward, disgust oozing from the corner of her mouth in a fashion very similar to drool. “Don’t you judge me. Don’t you sit there – in your clothes – with your job and sense of purpose and direction and sense of contribution to society – and judge me.”

“Oh, I don’t have a job,” the man corrected.

“You don’t?”

“No,” the man said. “No, this is just to get out of the house. Let’s me feel like maybe I’m accomplishing something more with my life than a brief, devalued existence as someone’s indentured servant, toiling away at some menial task or another, for an unsustainable wage and a perpetual sense of dread and anxiety that risks siphoning what little will to live I have left in me, if not for those brief, few moments where I get to host my own little show for a small audience, but much needed peace of mind and self-worth.”

Anna Moose narrowed her eyes, and choked on the bile burning at the back of her throat. “People like you make me sick.”