"To Write the Wrong" by Rob Imes

"To Write the Wrong"
by Rob Imes

(Written in late 1985 or early 1986)

"Y'know, Dave! -- I think -- now, really! -- that if someone could write down things that happened to them as they happen -- like a journal, I suppose -- but not just their thoughts -- but -- "

Dave waved his hands over their pack of Chicken McNuggets in a desperate attempt to control Gregory's mad rambling. "Wait! -- wait! -- WAIT! -- Shut UP for a second!!"


"Now then," Dave leaned across the table, staring his friend straight in the eye. "What was that again??!"

Gregory smiled -- amused at Dave's struggle to perceive profound concepts of the mind. "I said:" whereupon he repeated -- more or less -- what he had said above, until, "but not just their thoughts, but what they say, how they act, observations! the workings of fate! characters that are actually original! -- (can you believe it?) -- and -- get this -- plots that are fresh and new because they're taken from real life ... which is always fresh and new!! -- ain't that great??!!?"

Apparently not, for Dave then spoke in great detail as to why history books, autobiographies, biographies, and documentaries are written.

But Gregory impatiently interrupted his friend's sermon in mid-sentence...

"Gregory, from Herodotus to C-"

"LISTEN, Dave! LISTEN!! -- I'm not talking biographies or documentaries or even late-night news! I'm talkin' STORIES! Change names of people, places -- who cares? -- Dave, why do the masses make up the greatest mythologies? -- "

Dave sighed.

"They make up all the mythologies, Greg."

" -- so what? -- they're still good, right?? So, anyway, howcum dirty old people with their teeth fallin out and rotting brains sit together around the campfire and invent 'King Arthur' or The Iliad or somethin -- and guys like you an me -- we do it for a LIVING, BLAST IT!! I sit over in misery for months writing a novel that just SUCKS!! -- the plot STINKS! -- the writing's GARBAGE! -- the characters're deader than, AW HELL, I don't KNOW -- DAMMIT! -- I went to COLLEGE for this!! -- I'm a PROFESSIONAL!! -- I don't get this at all, Dave! -- Crud, it jus' ain't FAIR, y'know??!!"

"mellow out, man...!" Dave replied cooly -- worried that they would get kicked out of the restaurant again. The last time they were in, Gregory had a nervous breakdown right on the spot and they were thrown out, Dave not even finishing his paid-for meal. An utter waste. "Now.. you okay, dude? Hey!" He grabbed his seemingly lifeless husk. "You okay?"

Greg came around. "Yeah. I'm okay. What did.. what did the doctor say again?"

"Breathe in; remember?"

"Yeah. right." He slowly took in a gust of air and released it through his nose.

"Twelve of 'em."

"Yeah...! I know!"

"Jus' tryin' to help."

Dave finished off the rest of the nuggets and stared out the window at the bright, blue summer sky as Greg completed his exercizes.


"Yeah... where to now?" Greg said with a slight smile.

"I gotta get back to the offices and hand in my script. Amy wasn't in when I went over earlier."


"Want a lift?"

"Which? -- mobile or spiritual?"

"Both. Come on! -- I'll drive!"

They exited the building and hopped in Dave's jeep outside. They drove along in silence until Dave dropped Greg off at his house.

"Hey... Greg."

"Don't say it, Dave. I've flipped, haven't I?"

"Nah... I was jus' thinkin' th - "

" I went to COLLEGE, Dave. -- I finished High School! -- and now, I'm a writer -- something I always wanted to beas a kid! -- it doesn't wear like it should, though, y'know? I wanted to write real good stuff then. Something I could really be proud of. Y'know, I recently did some erotica material under a pen name. I never would have done such a thing as a kid."

"Sure ya would've."

"No! -- I wouldn't! -- maybe YOU would've ... HA HA ... SURE, YOU! ... but no .. not me ... I wanted to write wholesome material. Something I could show my parents and make them proud of me. I was so innocent then. I wanted to be up there with the masters that inspired me. They could say: William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Gregory T. Baxter! ... and now look at me. Ruin. Not financially speaking -- though I wish I was doing better at that -- but mentally. Am I really doing what I want?"

"What DO you want, Greg? -- to write Romeo and Juliet II, The Sequel or what??!"

"Forget it! -- Look, I'll catch you later."

"Awright, sport! See ya around!"

The jeep drove down the quiet suburban street as Greg got a brainstorm. "I'll do it!" he thought to himself. "I'll write life as it happens. That's the way they originally did it, didn't they? Sure! Let's get to it, Greg!!"

Two minutes later, he was sitting on his front porch, a brand-new pen in hand and fresh pad of paper resting in his lap. The blank sheet challenged him, so he looked around for stories. As always, things were pretty dull. Two houses down, a guy lacking shirt washed his car and Greg watched the suds float down the curb and into the sewer where children built a dam of branches, sticks, and grass to save the defenseless suds from their terrible fate. Elsewhere, two men talked. Somewhere else, some kids played with action figures on a porch. Dull stuff like that.

Right when he was about to repeatedly bang his head against the driveway for even thinking up such a stupid idea as this silly "real life" business. His wife, Miranda, pulled up in a Trans Am with a guy. Miranda was her usual dismal self, but THIS GUY had a bright sparkling smile, a military-style mustache and a playboy look to him. Playboy waved ciao with a standard "pick you up at eight," and the Trans Am roared off into the horizon. Miranda's smile faded, however, when Greg is discovered on the porch: uncombed hair, mustard-stained sock ("How does that always get there?" she ponders), a slogan-spoken beach-bum shirt, glittering, strands of food-accompanying teeth, and other abnormal deformities.

"What the hell are you doing?" she barked, stepping over the disgrace blocking her way.

"Hi! -- I just got the greate--"

"Oh, I don't have the time to listen to YOU, you peevish creep. Did you fix lunch??"

"Hm? -- oh, nah! me an' Dave went to Mickey D's and pigged out. -- You eat?"

The slamming front door cuts short her reply -- if, indeed, a reply was even given.

"Ah well! guess not!" Across the street, the two men discuss current family matters. "Hate to eavsdrop -- euh! so what!" As they talk, he writes.

"Linda and Mabel -- you know them don'tcha?"

"Yeah... down at the --"

"Grill's square..."


"Well, anyhow..."

"Try'n to rem -- I knew it, y'know!"

"Right! -- well, l'see -- it was like this: Linda and Mabel came over ta the garage... dinky kinda place, y'know? -- I was sitting there try'n to convince Rusty that the Cubs're gonna win it this year an' then -- "

"Hm? -- what's that? -- the Cubs! -- Get outta here!"

"Oh! So ya disagree, eh? Listen!"

It was at this point that Greg crumpled the page into a little ball and sent it sailing onto his neighbor's lawn.

"I've had it! -- I'm bored to tears with this! -- literally bored to tears! -- sob!" He cradled his head in his hands. "What did I expect? -- 'Yeah, mugsy! There's gonna be a hit tonight at the Tower warehouse!' -- yes! yes! that's exactly what I thought. Exactly! oh, pity me, -- pity me -- poor soul..."

He went inside and took a nap in his room. He awoke at eight o'clock that night and tried again.

"Next time," he thought, "I've got to be quicker and latch onto the words better. Man! What a good book, though, I could make out of Life!"

Footsteps sounded in the hallway and he reached for pen and paper to record what would one day be a classic novel, to be enshrined among the great works, preserved for posterity ...!

Miranda and the playboy guy -- smiling still -- stepped into the room. Pen clutched tightly in hand he prepared for speech and wrote it down when spoken.

"Greg. I have something to say."

Playboy touched her shoulder.

She looked at him and they smiled. She continued, "Greg. I'm leaving you. I'm moving to Morocco with Hernando."

Possessed with the fury of the written words, he had no idea what she was saying.

Hernando spoke up: "We must go soon, my love."

"I'm coming. I first, though, must do something I've always wanted to do. I have a gun in my hands. And I'm going to kill you, Greg."

Finishing that line, Greg stopped and her words sank in.

"Wha -- ? What -- ? Hernando -- ? Morrocco -- ? Leaving me -- ? -- Waitasec! -- kill me! -- what're ya -- ?"

Too late.

Greg's body slumped in the bed as a pool of cherry-red blood leaked from his stomach, and a nifty Trans Am took off into the night, and a piece of paper, stained with blood, silently drifted to the floor.

A simple piece of paper -- meant to record life -- had now recounted death...

Copyright 2002 by Rob Imes.