National Terrible Unfinished Novel-Writing Month: Day 26

The police wouldn’t let me have my gun back. They were real mean about it, too.

“You’re just the sort of citizen in whose hands a gun becomes a massive threat to Society,” the detective said. And it made me feel pretty tough but then he said “…because someone’s probably going to knock you down, steal your gun, and then commit real crimes with it.”

That just seemed unnecessary.

But hell, I don’t need a gun to become a real, tough-guy gritty American author. I have something much more important. I have something that can never be taken away from me. I have a criminal record.

So I spent most of today getting used to walking without orange plastic sandals on my feet and rehearsing the story I’ll tell when my tough-guy gritty American NaTeUnNoWriMo novel inevitably becomes an Oprah’s Book Club selection.

“Prison changes a man, Oprah,” I’ll say, picking interestingly at a scar on my left arm that I’ll have the makeup guys put there precisely that purpose.

“You were in federal prison for nine years?” she’ll ask, eyes brimming with sympathy and a moisturizer that costs more per individual application than my best suit.

“Nine days. And it was actually the county lockup.”

“So you were in a ramshackle prison under the iron thumb of a tyrannical local sheriff, forced into labor without any of the protections that prisoners get in a properly-supervised facility,” she nods.

“They called my cell ‘the duty room’.”

“Where you were kept in terrifying isolation.”

“Right. They were already at capacity, you see, so after the second day they set up a rollaway bed for me in this big storeroom. They kept all their Christmas decorations and spare coffee filters and stuff in there. But yeah, sometimes the light would hit that big plastic Santa just right and I’d catch the reflection in my iMac’s screen and boy, it’d give me quite a scare.”

“You had a computer in there?”

“It was the county’s. I was rebuilding their entire network.”

“So you they did put you into forced labor. How shameful. Shameful.”

“Mmm.”

“What?”

“Okay. Well, when I tried to check my email on my iPhone, I noticed that they were still using WEP security. And no way was I going to send my passwords out on such a weakly-protected WiFi network. So I said something to the chief while he was in there asking me about what kind of notebook to get his kids. Next thing you know, I’d been awarded a $32,000 no-bid contract to secure their entire infrastructure. But I promised to have it finished by the time I was released, so let me tell you, those seven days were pretty stressful.”

“In your book, you said specifically that your time in prison had changed your whole outlook on life.”

“Driving away in a brand-new BMW M3 will do that.”

“My guest has been Andy Ihnatko. You don’t have to applaud or anything. Back after this.”

“Can I still say hi to my Mom?”

Hmm. Well, this is why we rehearse these things. An Oprah’s Book Club selection can really goose the ol’ Amazon standings. I just have to come across as someone with a nice, zesty experience of courage under soul-testing adversity. Like that chappie in South America.

South Africa.

Nelson…somebody.

Crap. I know it was Nelson and Winnie something. Sondra and Elvin’s twin babies were named after ’em on “The Cosby Show” and I’m given to understand that the guy had lots of other cool things happen to him, too.

Well, I can look it up. National Terrible Unfinished Novel-Writing Month isn’t even over yet. I bet I have at least two or three weeks before I have to get all of my Oprah stories straight.

Day 26. Words written: 1117.