You already know what comes next. I’m a fiction writer. So I make stuff up out of whole cloth. (what does that mean, anyway? Whole cloth is real, so if you make stuff up out of it, why is that not real? I googled it, but it’s not all that interesting; it seems tailors used to be liars, too. They’d advertise suits made of “whole cloth” while they were actually made of pieced-together cloth. Big deal.) And I write nonfiction, and poetry, too. Nonfiction should be pretty close to the truth, and poetry, well, it can be incomprehensible. Mine isn’t, by the way—I’m not that smart. But all the great poetry lately is enigmatic (to me) but full of angst. Seething, Anyway. I told some lies the other day that made me laugh. I was walking, and started laughing and that makes dogs bark, but I found it funny, the lies. Let me explain. If I meet someone new, I always tell them some outrageous lie and ask that they keep it secret, then if it gets around, comes back to me, I know they spilled it.
This very enthusiastic guy I met told me out-of-school things that required me to answer in kind. So I said my first wife was an unrepentant tweaker and our two, or three children (it’s been said I’m out of touch with my kids) aren’t really mine. That one hasn’t come back yet, maybe because it’s just not that interesting. One that did, however, is, “Don’t tell anyone, but I killed a man in Omaha. Beat him with a barstool. I paid my debt to society, did time. But I got out early for good behavior and for singing for the governor of Nebraska.”
“That’s incredible. What did you sing?”
“Another Man Done Gone and Bully of the Town.”
“Golly. Can you sing them for me?”
“I hardly think so.”
“What prison was it?”
“Angola. I don’t know. That time back then is not very accessible. You understand.”
“Isn’t Angola in Louisiana?”
“You’re kind of a stickler for details aren’t you?”
“I don’t mean to pry…”
“See this barstool?”
That one came back to me in a strange way. The bartender at The Flamingo said, “You know the barstools here are anchored to the floor. Another beer?”
I told a whole lot of lies in a thriller novel, about New Orleans and the Marais deCygne Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. It was fun, but not much profit. I made stuff up page after page until it was tiring. Then I’d start the next day, lying again. Pages of it. It broke the million mark on Amazon, meaning that a million other books sold more than it, but it finally settled into a nine hundred thousand number for about a week. Then more books came out and it was back up there. It’s called Ruined Days and it has eighteen five star reviews. It maybe sold eighteen copies unless some of those reviewers bought it used. The poetry books have not sold as well.
Then I wrote a nonfiction book of essays. Pretty truthful, as I’m not running for office or anything where I have to be on my outwardly good behavior. It’s not published yet. Look for it in the summer of 2020. Please. It’s called “Chickens One Day, Feathers The Next.”
I’ve just been notified that my adoption papers are coming through; I’m being adopted by Bernie Sanders. I wrote to him right before the DNC screwed up his first run for President and asked that he do this. I think he’s a pretty nice person, and we’d probably get along. He also has this extra house on Lake Champlain where I could go to write. I could live there with my wife (not the first one) and my two, or is it three, kids. Plenty of room, nice light, and the lake, of course. Other than loons, it’s quiet I imagine. Motorboats in summer maybe. He’s so involved in politics and too busy to use even one home, and if he’s elected by write-in he’ll have to live in that DC swamp. Being newly adopted, he may want me to visit out there after the quarantine. I hope not. I think Bernie is rich. That would be great. It’s what I always wanted in a parent. Don’t forget to buy my books. That’s it. I’m done for now. My pants are on fire.
Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Five more books since. A 5- time Pushcart nominee, his fiction, essays and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Southern Humanities Review, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. (Until shelter in place order) Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com. Follow him on Twitter @NoirBut.