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April 1999

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This article is my own personal take on the mentality of the content and style of an article by Richard Smith that I read recently.

There is little point in reading my article if you are not familiar with Richard Smith's article 'Catching the author of Melissa'. It can be found in VDAT versions 1.9 and above.

Further Notes

Richard Smith has responded by demonstrating that this story was written by a ghost writer for playboy magazine, I leave it up to you to decide how much is ghost-writer and how much is Smith. I can only suggest Richard's conduct is a good indication... I myself remain unconvinced that the ghost writer was little more than an editor and convenient cover.

Green buds and brown twigs swayed in the cold wind in front of a third floor window. Inside a lone figure worked away at his computer, the only connection he had to what he wanted to be. Sure the flash car and money was nice to have but it didn't fill the emptiness, it just rattled around in the void drawing attention to itself. The respect of his position he knew was only his as long as he held the title, those people would give the same kind of begrudged respect to a monkey if it were their boss. He needed acceptance here, in this world. The computer made him anonymous except by reputation, they couldn't see his eyes or his longing, they couldn't see into his personal life. He had managed to conceal the frustration from the world, but that only made it burn within him all the more, the cold exterior arrogance the only clue to what he constantly battled against. His goal was within his reach now, a glimpse of what he longed to bask in would be his if he could just keep it together for a little while longer. He carried on tapping away excitedly, drinking in the tension that was for once in his life a positive feeling.

Suddenly, his mood changed. The wandering of his mind as his eyes played over the same words once again got around to his real passion. The rejection letters still burned into his mind, he thought how he would show them what a mistake they had made. He'd got a ticket to recognition now in this article, and he was damn well going to take it. An author wrote this, they would say, a real author. How wasted he had been writing articles he spat, but how good it was going to feel to know that 'they' were kicking themselves for letting him slip through their fingers. The fingers that had brushed aside his efforts without so much as a hint of the reason. They were going to be sorry. He knew what he had to do now. He finished the first rewrite in under an hour, but he couldn't release anything less than perfect. Over and over he read it, tweaking here, re-phrasing there. Time was short, but it had to be right. And the ending, surely it was too transparent?

"No, it's not transparent, it's not even a lie, I did know, I did know. Deep down I knew."

The voice in his head was strong, deliberate and confident, he only wished he could be like that in public.

"Yeah right, of course you did" he heard the public's echoing reply, jeering like schoolboys.

"I DID" he thought. "I know if I can convince myself of that then I can convince other people." Besides, the name was there, he had seen it, it was just that it hadn't clicked straight away. After it was pointed out to him it was so obvious, he hated himself for missing it.

"No, it wasn't obvious, it's just that the name was there a few times. Anyone could have missed it", he thought, then quickly reprimanded himself, "No, wait, I didn't miss it did I? I knew before they told me, I did know".

"Liar" said the voice again, but he'd had enough of reason.

He tried to calm down, he knew he was in danger of becoming enraged again, he always did when he was losing an argument with himself.

The wind grew louder and he turned to look out of the window. It was his first movement for five minutes. He didn't even realise how distant he had got while he was trying to subdue his conscience, he didn't even notice the passage of time. He was glad he was connected to the one thing that mattered via a computer, he could always blame that for his 'moments'.

These were the last few adjustments, this was very nearly the final copy. The objects of the article had been given personalities, and he tried in vain to describe them like a real author would. He was convinced it was good. His feeble attempts to make them seem elusive had destroyed the natural enigma that they portrayed. Instead they now seemed like a tacky ornament on a shelf, the eyes scanning that part of the scenery as quickly as possible to get to something more interesting. He re-read it, unsure for just one second. As quick as it had come, the doubt disappeared and the excitement returned, his hands moving quicker as he tried to concentrate on the positive. "Don't let it get to you, you will get your respect if you can just keep it together for a few weeks longer".

The strong voice again. He ignored the way the strong voice always sounded like it looked down on him. Sometimes he reasoned that it would stop when he was happy, that it would be him talking then, not a patronising, superior version like it was now. Now it just made him determined.

There. It was finished. He read it again on screen, then printed it off on glossy paper to appreciate it fully. That's what real authors do, he thought, and I am now one of them. This is going to be the turning point.

Two weeks later, and it's all over now. They knew. They knew that he missed it, they knew about his failed books, they knew about his life. They knew how the image was of a big corporate success, but the man behind it all wasn't worth anything. It was all in that article. It was as clear as day to everyone except him, and he'd tried so hard to do it just right. He tried so hard to con the people into thinking what he wanted them to that they had seen straight through the words and into the thoughts that created them. The female characters of the inanimate objects had shown his fantasies of a real relationship in the way he had tried to pick them apart, they had betrayed his lifetime of failure with women and his sham of a marriage. His knowledge of fine wines that he'd dropped in here and there showed through as a desperate attempt to build his upper class image. The way he'd poked fun at things he'd understood better than most because he'd been there, the penis jokes that he could sympathise with so well. Worst of all though was the lie. Why did he do it? Wasn't it enough that he had helped? Did it have to end in him naming names? Wasn't he man enough to give credit where credit was due? And besides, how could he have expected that to fool people? As if for one minute they would fall for that trick after they learned to spot it in school playgrounds. He could hear the schoolkids again.

"It was so-and-so", they said triumphantly.

"I knew that" came his snapped reply.

In his mind he frowned. He wondered why he didn't just finish off the thought, why he stopped short of making a complete admission of his world crumbling around him. His temper was making his cheeks burn. He felt the words forcing themselves out in a kind of forced sarcasm, as if they were trying to be sarcastic by themselves.

"I knew that, I was just testing you" he said aloud.

That was the last straw, the final denial of someone who knew they were not only a liar, but a liar who has been caught out. In the playground he would have turned and fled in tears, but what to do now? The scotch helped him decide, and gave him the courage to go through with it. After all, he thought, no-one will even notice the difference.

The suicide note specifically asked for the wording on the headstone, and his only relatives were distant enough to feel obliged to grant his last wishes however strange. The friends he had in life saw no point in pretending they liked him any more, now that benefit was impossible. His funeral was attended by a grand total of eight people. All that is left of him now is the article as if to be a constant torment to his soul, and an expensive but un-visited stone that reads:

R. Smith
Died May 1st 1999
Alone again
				- MidNyte

As always, I welcome ANY feedback, good or bad, as long as it is reasonable.

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