The Author's Story (November 15)


Written in 1977, The Author's Story (November 15) was published in Lost Areas by Oil Books, Sugar Run, Pennsylvania.

The author is chain smoking in front of the typewriter. Crumpled pink and white paper litters the floor between himself and the wastebasket. He starts a sentence but the words won't come. The characters are out focus; the situation won't materialize. He tears the paper out of the typewriter, crumples it in his fist and throws it at the half-open door.


I walk across the dying grass. The season is changing. There is a fine mist in the air; the fallen leaves are wet and slippery. I am careful. I turn the corner of the house and approach the back door cautiously. Leaves have collected on the flagstone; they are piled up against the screen. I am picked up and returned to the driveway. No explanation is given.


The wind picks up. It rips the yellow leaves from the maple behind the house and flings them onto the wet earth. The author listens, cursing the changing season. It brings with it all the sounds of an earlier change. The washerwoman clacks on her green and white stick under the maple tree. The house shakes.

Something has me a little worried. I consult with my shrink. “Something has me a little worried,” I say. “What has me a little worried is that someone is playing a game with me.”

“Can you be more specific?” my shrink asks, sinking back into his chair.

I cannot.

“Lie back then. Close your eyes. Focus please on the interpersonal sphere of your early life, your relation to the significant others in your life.”

“I was a good, normal, healthy child,” I begin.



The author paces his small room. The crumpled paper crunches under his feet like dead leaves. Someone has broken glass and left it at the head of the staircase. The author does not know who. He didn't do it and there is no one else in the house.

The telephone rings. “Is this LI 1-2665?” a voice asks.

“It is.

“The broken glass is window glass 1/8th of an inch thick. It was originally I2x20."


I walk across the wet grass. Two people pass me, hurrying quickly toward the road. Their faces are out of focus; I would not know them again. Between them are two hands in sharp focus. I imagine the grip is cold and wet.

I turn the corner of the house cautiously. The leaves have been kicked out of the way. The back door stands ajar. I am picked up and placed back on the road. No explanation is given.


I phone my shrink from the corner phone booth. “I'm having that feeling again,” I say.

“Can you be more specific?” my shrink asks.

I cannot.

“Lie down then...”

I lie down in the phone booth. My legs stick out the door.

“How do you feel?” my shrink asks.

“Uncomfortable,” I reply.

“Good. Let us begin.”

“I was a good, normal, healthy child,” I begin, “until gradually I began to be bad, to do and say things...”

“That's enough,” my shrink says. “We'll work on it again tomorrow.”


Someone is trying desperately to open the front door. The key makes a loud grinding sound in the lock.

“Who is it?” the author asks. He is standing at the head of the stairs.

The telephone rings. “Who is it?” a voice asks.

There are dried autumn leaves on the studio floor. Someone has raked them into a large pile. The author doesn't know who. He shuffles through the leaves. His boot strikes something hard. He stoops to see what it is.

The telephone rings. “Is this LI 2-2665?” the same voice asks.

“It is.”

“Just a minute please.”

The author waits. Nothing happens.


I am walking in the road. I am trying not to look obvious. I walk slowly and look up at the clouds or down at the road. The road is slippery with the yellow leaves from the maple trees.


I hear footsteps in the leaves to my right. Someone is running across the lawn. I hear a car door slam and the car drive away. I remember something about the car. I remember the shifting of the gears. It is a four speed car.

I turn and climb the path to the front door. I am careful not to slip on the wet leaves. The front door is open. I see footprints on the rug. I knock at the open door, but when I start to call out no words come. I don't know why.

The author hurries down the stairs. An ax is embedded in the hall floor. The hall table has been cut up for kindling. There is blood on the carpet.

I enter by the back door. I walk on tiptoe across the kitchen. I do not want to make any noise. As I enter the hallway a policeman taps me on the shoulder. “Let me see your identification please, Miss,” the policeman says.

“What's the matter?” I ask quickly. “Is something wrong?”

“Just show me your ID, Miss,” the policeman says. He sounds tired.

They grill me in the living room. The police captain is bald and beefy. He draws on a large cigar and paces the room while the tired young policeman talks to me. “Tell us what you remember,” the tired young policeman says. “Please...Pretty please...Pretty please with sugar on it?”

I am aggressive. I bring my fist down on the table. “I have the right to make one call,” I say.

They let me make one call. I phone my shrink. “You have the wrong number,” the person on the other end says. It sounds like my shrink.

I try to dial again but the police captain knocks the phone out of my hand.

I escape when he stoops to pick up the phone. I run up the twisted stairs. I cut my foot on the broken glass at the top. My blood is on the rug.

There is a guard at the studio door. He is leaning back in his chair, supporting himself on two legs. He's chewing on the end of a dead cigar.

“I want to go in,” I say.

The guard lets the front legs of the chair down. “You gotta answer these questions first,” he drawls. He pulls a paper out of his shirt pocket. “One. Was you ever a good, normal, healthy child?”

“I was rotten,” I reply.

“Two. Did you get worser? Did you do things that caused alotta trouble?”

“I did.”

“Three. Did your badness get badder all the time, until eventually you come to be regarded as mad?”

“It did. I did. Yes.”

The guard pushes back on his chair and pulls his hat down over his eyes. “You scored perfect,” he says. “You can go in now.”


I open the door. The author is dead.



© Helen Thorington, 2004