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" 'Skip Starbooks: The Final Epilogue (Part VII)' "
" 'Starbooks' "
" 'Skip Starbooks.' "
" 'Skip & Friends & Everyone Else But Kevin' "
" 'Untitled' "
" 'It was the beginning of the entirety of the final frwoa fragment of the most important work of art in the known universe now and forever known as Okuaka, and Skip Friter was too exhausted to think of a better opening tagline than this one.' "
" 'Short-term amnesia is perhaps the worst possible ailment to have when writing a story all existence depends upon. Fortunately for Skip Friter of Flutonia, he didn't, he wasn't, and his didn't.' "
" 'It was the last page of a let-down last book by an author too chicken shit to kill off his main character. He marched his pen valiantly onward toward the real life tragedy of retirement in hopes his fans would change their minds about loathing yet another book in the series. Ironically, it would be a brilliant literary firework catharsis, because shortly into the book's writing, he'd decided to to dump the task of making it a good one onto his main protagonist.' "
" '...her main protagonist.' "
" '.somebody's disgruntled kitten's main protagonist.'' "
" 'Sunk in a cumfy Starbooks seat, Skip snapped to attention, sat up straight, shook off any annoying alliteration hovering about, and adamently expected something conclusive. Skip skipped considering an inaudable monologue (or even a summary stream of thoughts introducing whatever was left of his life to whoever happened to be hovering about), skipped pondering any and all contrived explanations of what the hell had been going on just now or where the hell anything may or may not have been planning to go soon, skipped sipping his eschewed espresso, skipped surpressing his self-similar sounds eschewal (because obviously the attempt wasn't working so far), and made a mental note to always avoid any and all aliteration at all costs for the duration of his mortal life as a freelance frwoa novelist living somewhere between a definitively undisclosed period of time ago, and a quite clearly crafted lack of an estimation of what lied ahead in his future as a foreshadowed sentient mortal being. (Not that obscure literary mechanisms were the issue here.)
" 'The issue -- the astronomical crisis and source of conflict as exponentially worse than any ever written about on the shelves around him as it could be without sending him straight to hell for contrived immersive mock melodrama -- was the finishing of the fractal work of art (or "frwoa", Skip noted redundantly for modular purposes fatally nauseating to anyone cursed by fate to have been following him from the beginning), entitled whatever Skip had written down at the top of his notebook page. He couldn't remember, as he'd been looking away from it for quite awhile to forget what it was. While this worked, he unfortunately hadn't won his secret lottery- ticket plan to force himself back into the amnesia-coma he'd been in off and on for as far back as he thought he could remember with any degree of clarity. Desperate for a beginning and remembering he already had one, he looked down to save time. He expected something conclusive, but saw the same damn thing he'd already written. Coincidentally.' "
" 'Incidentally.' "
" 'Dentally.' "
" 'Dental.' "
" 'Lee.' "
" 'Two people named Dear God Is This Ever Going to Stop, coincidentally, incidentally, and Dental D. Lee, a line of dialogue in an obscure 188th billennia Earth film starring Jake Gylenhaal, Drew Barrymore, and some other people, that flumped at the box office, but gained so much of a cult following on DVD that a vague idea for news of the film's popularity fell through a freak 50 dimensional rift out from the space-time continuum, back to before space and time were fully fleshed out concepts, along with a bizarre Wikipedia article on jet engine engineering, sperm wales, daisy-petunia hybrids, and an accurate prediction of the demise of United States Fair Use Law in 2077 following the near-destruction of Earth by a race of aliens from another universe and, incidentally, coincidentally, forgetably, and narcisistically, also from a global franchise superpower fractal nonlinear reading series that had been judged so guilty by god of mangling Fair Use law beyond legislature allowing the verbatim plagiarism of of any artwork ever written in the history of mankind all the way into legalized literal weapon of mass destruction, that the most appropriate punishment was plagiarizing its fictional aliens bent on the taking over of slash destruction of planet Earth right into existence, along with some 22nd century Cliff's Notes on the poorly reviewed classic fractal nonlinear Barns & Noble / Starbucks / General Western Arts & Sciences parody/satire entitled... entitled...' "
Devoid of the feeling that any narration hovering about him was at all less haphazard or poorly written than any other possible opening narration, and hence could only win the prize of being realized or published via dead dumb luck, the most delinquent, unimportant, and non-dynamic writer in the history of the First Age of Man and of the Only Known Universe Ever Known now and then known as Okuaka, awoke from a poorly explained and defined contrived catch-all nap that eschewed any description but that mentioned to here if that was even a grammatically correct phrasing a few words ago because some writer somewhere involved in the matter was tired and had to go to bed, for real, incidentally explaining the moderate to poor transition between this paragraph and the following one and especially its increasing run-on nature not even excusable by the standard bulsh reasoning explaining away such violations of proper and common sense literary conduct and convention as genius radical innovation, because it was written after the fact rather than before due to bad planning, if the former was even a sentence in any sense of the word.
Skip sat up straight in the most fleshed out idea for a cumfy Starbooks chair it was possible for an object to be in the vague idea for the publishable dream-like universe of Flutonia. He glanced at the clock. It was 2:77. Whatever else anything around him might have been or not been--or might have had been from some frangles--it was 2:77. It wasn't 2:77 in some vague way such as it being said it mot have been 2:77 when really it's just a number some friter somewhere in the area pulled out of their ass. It wasn't 2:77 in the sense that someone somewhere made a typo and it was really supposed to be 2:55 or something like that. It was beyond a shadow of a vifa doubt, the last of 7 pieces of the 7th part of the 2nd part of the frook entitled "Writer's Bricks", which should make perfect sense to anyone in the area who hasn't read even a page of it. It was 2:77, and appropriately so, because plenty of other things were also final and far from fresh and unfleshed out. Like a list of them. Or any hint of that the existence of a list of them would have any literary or poetic significance to anyone, anywhere, especially since such a list would eventually or inversely eventually be the source of the most meaningless and non-noteworthy flow toward a line that was written by someone assuming someone someday would write an astronomically more climactic snowball vindicating roll toward it than he or she was capable or willing to even fathom.
Skip nodded in an ambiguous catharsis that had everything to do with what was written on the notepad on his lap, and nothing to do with the bad puns he'd dreamt of likening "amnesia" and "insomnia" to the film Inception, due to the fear of imploding all of Flutonia in about 14 thousand ways if anything to do with anything to do with the film was ever even thought or pondered or dreamt.
"Finally! Finally! A good beginning!"
"Excuse me, sir."
Skipped broke a bit of attention from his writing to nod rhetorically at the long- since- named starbookstaffian who'd approached him.
"Excuse me sir, we're closing soon, would you mind wrapping up whatever you're doing and bringing all these books to the register?"
Skip sighed rhetorically again, then again resentfully at the redundancy of the question and of his required response, which had both already been too redundantly rhetorical even before they'd happened the first time.
"Yes, I know, yes, I would. You've delivered your message. Now bugger off."
"I've already done so twice, arguably thrice if you include subtle mannerisms as an implied means of speech, but if you really insist on a frice, so be it. You're frice excused, now scram stat before we start plagiarizing the killer bunny slash hand grenade scene in Monty Pythona and the Holy Grail."
The starbookstaffian surpressed a fidget of annoyance. She clearly wasn't trained for this sort of thing, and where her training to deal with hostile customers was lacking, her core mandate of maintaining an unbreakably cheery demeanor defaulted. She resolved to continue politely with only a sliver of a frown breaking through at that her salary didn't quite cover the effort.
"Nothing, a really bad inside frwoa pun that only a few dyslexic Monty Python fan freers will get. I couldn't resist. Really, now, that's bad enough, so scramble before we infringe something else. You're starting to resemble Hitchhikers' Mr. Prosser more and more each mot you stand there with that stupid dazed look on your face, and and at the least, if our deadlock drones on long enough we'll forget how it started and begin to plagiarize the damn thing itself. Or Seinfeld, at the least. Seinfeld's kinda like this. Or maybe we're Will & Grace."
Already feeling sureally out of place, it was such an odd comment that the girl instinctively looked around at the couches and chairs for a door. She quickly caught herself, hoped it hadn't contributed to her stupid dazed look, then fumbled off for a manager following an uncloaked gawk at one of the more attractive woman in sight.
" 'The middle of an epilogue of a story put off past the possibility of completion is the perfect time to ponder what it would have been about if anyone had actually written it. "
" 'The Middle! by Skip' "
" 'Middles and riddles and fiddles and mice, welcome to unfinished frwoas and dice.' "
" 'Your ad here.' "
" 'Dear God, please hire a good freelance writer to replace this letter with something original and note worthy, because I'm piss sick of trying to do it myself.' "
" 'Sincerely, Skip' "
" 'Dear Skip,' "
" 'Excuse me, sir.' "
"Excuse me, sir."
Skip sighed in rhetoric defeat.
"Ah, I see my friend Ms. Outright has a bodyguard. Unfortunately, you're too late; I already harassed her, and I'm sure the damage is beyond your skill to repair. You probably shouldn't be in this line of work."
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"Feel free, but it won't have much of a purpose. You probably don't want to waste your time."
"I was told you stole a pencil today. Did you steal a pencil?"
"I'd tell you, but then I'd have to infringe a perfectly good extention of a classic obscure parody of an old cliche tagline."
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask for that pencil back."
"You can put it on your to-do list under asking me to leave. Unless it's more important. Either way you better get started. You don't have much time left for either of them. The bookstore's about to close."
"I'll give you one last chance, sir, then I'm calling security."
"Good. They will be happy to ask me to leave once you explain you were thinking of doing so yourself but didn't have the guts. I'm sure they'll forgive you. Then everyone involved will be in a good and focused enough mood for someone to actually think to ask me to leave, since nobody in the store so far has technically done so."
With nothing more hostile to risk, the man paused, glanced at the books beside Skip, then glanced over at the Writing & Publishing section, then the Reference section, then, in turn, Philosophy, Psychology, Children's Literature, Self-help, and Horror, and then glanced back down at Skip's books. He looked about to ask Skip to leave again -- as Skip seemed to be rudely nitpicking something about his grammar that was likely necessary to achieve a radically friendly polite atmosphere -- but didn't seem sure whether the lunatic was really putting his request for proper grammar above his lack of a desire to spend a night or two in jail. Perhaps appeasing him would simply get him to leave. He opened his mouth, paused, then gave the Psychology and Horror sections a good further stare, and an aura of resolution appeared around him.
"Shall I put those away for you, sir?"
"No, I'll bring them all up to the register myself, as Ms. Outright made it clear it's my job."
"She was mistaken. That's our job. I apologize for the misunderstanding. I promise you she'll be severely reprimanded."
"No need. I already took care of it, I told you."
The manager paused again. There didn't seem anything intrinsically absurd about a customer verbally reprimanding an employee that might have recieved the same level of reprimand from him if he had seen her demand a customer purchase all the books he had taken down to read. And while a customer refusing to leave the store at closing simply out of objection to the irony of a bookstore employee not usng grammar as precisely as he could did seem absurd, it was entirely in line with the habits of many influential historical figures, who's ideas and objections to the norm of society seemed absurd to those in it before the fame and mass admissions that everyone else was wrong.
With a tired sigh, the man glanced at the cafe, the door, then the Horror section again, and spoke his words with the caution of a dragon slayer asking a dragon to buy him a new fur coat.
"Sir, I have to ask you to leave."
"Skip's my name."
"Skips, you can't stay here."
" 'Skip', not 'Skips'."
"No, it's 'Skips'. You look like a 'Skips'. One more time, Skips. Either leave, or consider buying all these books. Pick one, but pick it now."
"Creative writers are the only reason you even have a bookstore at all, for without us, there'd be no books. So won't you kindly booker off because I have a completely physically impossible amoount of work to do before the police arrive. I'll pick your latter to appease you, if you really insist."
"The ones you're going to call pretty soon if I don't get out of here, which I have no intention of doing any time soon. In fact you should just plain scratch them off your to-do list entirely, as there are a million better things you could be doing instead. Such as bringing all these books to the register."
"That's it, Skips, I'm calling security." The man realized there were no police in the bookstore. "The police."
Skip gave a rhetorical nod. The manager turned to leave, then, thinking better of it, grabbed as many books as he could, then walked off profesionally in the ambiguous direction of the phones and registers."
" 'Only espresso and ritalin can cure the blank stare into and through the blank slate of paper of writer's block. Paper, when stacked, becomes bulk, and bulk, if made one, becomes brick. The moral of this nonsensical story is that if you're writer, with no talent, and no aspiration towards the art of writing, and no muse, inspiration, whim, experience, or brain cell of intelligence to give you the slightest bit of topic material or enthusiasm to aid the writing of a great universe-changing medium- barrier- breaking whatever supposing the infinitesimal chance that was your task, and that was your task -- thrust and lust and jungle must and moist upon the duck-brained blah I'm tired of your soul -- and you infinitely understandably didn't accomplish a gram of your goal by the due date for it, you would of course accumulate so many pieces of blank paper that as a whole they theoretically could be condensed into a solid brick of wood. Not that bricks are made of wood, but a very dense log is just as useful for building a house. In any case, the point is, after eons of non-productivity, any writer who's accumulated enough sheets of blank paper finally has something of substance: the raw material for a big heap of wood, which can then be used in combination with other great writer's failures to build houses, which can then be rented out to talented individuals who can actually write something of value. Bad writers are simply lumberjacks. And that's a useful use of time indeed. Especially when the houses are completed.' "
"That is absolute... complete... total... crap. But it'll have to do. There's my great frwoa." Skip paused. Skip paused a lot. Skip paused a great deal. And then he came to a decision that would likely change the universe and Flutonia forever.
And Skip began scribbling out the total !@#$ing three-second jibberish that would one day serve to do just about absolutely nothing.
But at least he'd be done with it.
And he began to write.
Skip, acutely aware of the police offer and bullet-proofed German Shepherd escorting the Starbooksmanager up the escalator, put an emphatic pinnacle period after the last sentence of the most brilliant manuscript he had or would ever write. Its length mattered not. It was brilliant, and that's all that ever counts. He was about to get up to leave, but decided attempting to flee from two mad men and a dog heading straight toward you is arguably always a bad idea.
"..you're you're going to have to come with us."
"And why's that?"
"Sir, get up."
"Alright, but only because you asked."
"I didn't." The cop stared hard at Skip, foreshadowing he wasn't about to be a very entertaining escort.
"No, I didn't say 'asked nicely', I just said 'asked'. No one's actually asked me to leave yet, even though I've gotten a vague unconfirmed feeling that that might be what someone or other was planning. In fact that fact still stands."
The burly rent-a-cop turned to the Starbooks manager.
"You did... ask this man to leave? Directly?"
The manager's eyes darted between the cop and Skip. His expression was unextinguishably static and flat.
"Before you called 911?" the cop clarified.
The manager increased the jitteriness of his darting eyes. The cop's question wasn't just sensible or typical, nor was it just expected or predictable. It was the only damn thing anyone anywhere with a gram of ability to emit words out of their mouth would have uttered at this point, whether they were all stuck in a child's cartoon show, or a scene on COPS selected for the absurdity of such a scenario actually happening in real life. There were multiple motives for the cop's asking it, but they all fell between the poles of him parroting Skip's lunatic grammatical obsession, and being pissed off at being summoned to remove a docile lunatic by force when a simple sentence humoring him would probably have sufficed, and still would now have to be tried. That the cop was beyond sure of his sanity and his right to the question said he was fiercely aware of the duality and need not explain himself, even putting aside the fact that he was the only one in the store with a gun. (Not to mention a highly trained flack-jacketed attack dog becoming more anxious to eliviate its boredom by turning rabid and mauling one of the scene's characters). Perhaps just to appease his own wit, the cop milked the effect to pass some time. Being called away from druggies and donuts mot have angered him, but while he was here, he might as well harvest a gram of entertainment from the intrinsically ridiculous scene.
"What were your exact words to this man?"
The rate of increase of the manager's eye darting lowered in preparation against its reaching maximum frequency too early. The question was partically rhetorical. No in the room gave a damn what his exact words were. The question was whether he even tried at all to humor Skip's technical obsession before callin 911, whether Skip was a lunatic, genius, or lebo. It required an answer, however, for the COPS scenario made remaining silent suspicious activity that he was doing so so that anything he said wouldn't be used against him in a court of law. There was also the scenario that the cop was as loony as Skip and ready to drag either one of them to jail if he didn't get answers he liked. The manager's hesitation and slightly sweaty forhead were already crippling testimony.
"I, uh, I looked at him, directly, and said, 'Please leave'."
"Lying," blinked Skip.
"Yes, I see that," nodded the cop.
"I, uh, I rudely told him to get out. I told him, 'Out, out, you bastard linguist! Life's but an unlit candle leaving one song behind before the virus of night takes hold like rotten raisins raging like the sunset of your soul!"
"Alright! Fine! I swore and cursed and threatened death if he didn't jump out the window and splatter his brains on the cement outside the window by the books on abnormal psychology. Happy? Happy?"
The cop turned to Skip with a subtle, harsh stare. This put a couple points in the COPS scenario. It was arguably countered with the exaggerated pseudo-sarcastic grin of mock elation the cop whipped back at the manager. He looked about to speak, then shut his mouth and stood still for a moment. Then he turned back to Skip with the eclectic duality of a cartoon character addressing a newfound kindred spirit, and the momentary COPS star fighting to glance at the camera and break the fourth wall.
"What's your name?"
There was no witty or idiotic answer. At least not in the presence of a man and animal who'd studied a spectrum of ways to render someone dead in under 15 seconds."
"Skip, if I told you to come with me, threatening to remove you forcibly if you didn't, would you do so willingly without causing any further trouble, directly or indirectly, whether or not it was your intention to cause any to begin with, and whether or not you consider it an unfair thing to tell you to do?"
Skip gave an rhetorical, infinitesimal inspection of the gun, the dog, the store clock, a dropped pencil, and the books to his side that somebody at some point in the future would have to put away. He answered without a gram of sarcasm in his tone. "I would, but I don't see the need. Is the store closed? If the store's closed, I'll gladly exit it on my own. I'm afraid I didn't check the hours before I came in, and I'm afraid no one's actually told me. Might I make a suggestion the staff do so before calling the police and their puppies?" Skip reached down and gave the cop's a dog pat. It wagged its tail a bit, then looked guilty.
The cop gave the manager a sigh that said he was too tired not to spare him an equally long lecture. While that neither he nor any member of his staff had technically told Skip the store was closed may not have doubled the ordeal, it had only now occcured to him that Skip may actual have been mentally retarded, drunk, or genuinely clueless, which the manager should have picked up on given he'd had longer to observe Skip. The cop gave a brief pause as he ran through further possibilities, discarding each one as irrelevant in light of Skip not being behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
"Skip, come with me, or my delinquent dog will be directly ordered to tear you and your manuscript to metaphorical shreds."
Skip's eyes darted upward for calculation. His response awarded the sentence the designation of one correct and appropriate for a police officer in this situation, and that any infinitesimal nitpicks would have to wait for the presence of a well-caffeinated prosecution attorney and a high quality voice recorder.
"No need to get hostile."
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