All in Fiction

The Throwing Muse

Here’s what’s wrong with Eric and Marie: Eric is a twenty-eight-year-old writer. He’s alright at it and lives off of it when it pays well, which is most of the time, and he’s made a comfortable space for he and Marie in their marriage in the world. But as of the past two months, and for no particular reason, Eric has the unfortunate luck to be experiencing what writers sometimes call a "block," which some claim does not really exist and others claim can be all but deadly. This is Eric’s problem.

Hope Idiotic | Part 14

CHUCK CLAIMED HE WAS ATTENDING AA MEETINGS ON A REGULAR BASIS. So each morning, Melvin stuck his nose right into Chuck’s open mouth and told him to breathe. These closed-door sessions were disguised as short, daily program meetings so as not to drum up any suspicion that something covert was going on. Not that anyone could have guessed that Chuck was allowing his superior to huff his morning breath.

Hope Idiotic | Part 13

She spent the majority of her day sitting at that wall unit writing summary judgments and answering the flurry of emails that poured in. Many of them were only one or two sentences — conversations that could have been easily had over the phone in less time and with less interruption to her train of thought. There’s nothing more distracting for a working writer than to have an email notification going off in the corner of the computer screen every other minute. When she needed a moment to think, she would lean back in her chair and look at the shelf just above her computer at the two framed photographs of her and Lou.

Hope Idiotic | Part 11

In the dining room, the party was getting more and more raucous. Music was blaring as it competed for dominance over the laughter. One sixty-year-old woman referred to one of the women in her quilting group as “a total cunt.” Gifts set aside, Lou, Michelle, Chuck and Lexi joined in.

Hope Idiotic | Part X

Two days later, Lehman Brothers Holdings collapsed, causing a massive wave of panic throughout the financial world. The Great Recession had begun. That day, with no companies to call on, Lou’s entire team was glued to streaming videos and news stories about the collapse. Lou played online Tetris.

Hope Idiotic | Part IX

Chuck regularly passed out wearing his glasses and just as regularly would lose them in the middle of the night. He’d either pull them off his face and throw them across the room or lose them in the pillows and sheets of his bed or cushions of a couch. But they weren’t in the cushions.

Hope Idiotic | Part VIII

Lou finally began making a little bit of money when he broke through to the Chi Star, a free daily paper owned by the Franklin News. It was designed to be a newspaper with training wheels in hopes that as the young readers aged, they would make the switch from the free commuter rag to a more mature newspaper subscription. It was the struggling newspaper business’ effort to survive by adapting the drug trade’s tactics; get ’em hooked for free when they’re young.

Hope Idiotic | Part VII

By mid-November, Lou had been living with Michelle for two months. She provided half of the dresser for him and cleared out space in the bathroom cabinets and her closets for him in an effort to make her place his place, too. But she refused to let him hang any photos of his friends or family. And there was no way he was putting his film trophy on display anywhere.


"Saw a car accident there in meditation today." She pointed at an indeterminate northeast locale below. Nodding up at me in the pause as if I didn't believe her. "That's right, over coffee. I always stand right where you're standing for about fifteen minutes each morning while I break off a piece of the hottest joe I can possibly do, watching an interminably slow rush hour. The frustration is… transporting.“

Hope Idiotic | Part VI

The week that Lou arrived in Chicago, Franklin News, one of the largest media companies in the nation, laid off a thousand people. In the three months he’d been back, many other companies in his field had done the same. He wasn’t picky about whom he worked for, he just needed a gig. But every newspaper, magazine, radio station, marketing firm, advertising agency and public relations agency he could find wouldn’t even meet with him.