Once upon a noontime soggy, While I dithered, stunned and groggy, Over many a curious item of social market lore— As I boggled, nearly dizzy, Suddenly I wondered, “Is he— Is he really knocking loudly on my chamber door? Some old kibbitzer,” I muttered, “Knocking on my chamber door: Milo Bung, and nothing more.”
Here I opened wide the chamber door.
In stepped, with many a flirt and flutter, my old classmate, a direct descendant of Æthelred the Unready and fourth cousin to Slats Grobnik.
“Milo!” I complained. “What brings you here?”
“Fine way to greet an old friend,” he harrumphed.
“Well, look, old friend, I’m really busy.”
“You—busy?” He said it like it was an oxymoron.
“Trying to dope out which buttons to push in my email server to set up automatic delivery of my reader magnet through the double opt-in gizmo.”
His eyes grew wide. “I arrived in the nick of time. You could hurt yourself on stuff like that, without supervision.”
“It’s the price we artists pay.” I sighed. “Was there something you wanted?”
He grinned and nodded. “An autograph. It’s not every day a guy knew a famous author from way back.”
With a becoming blush of modesty, I pointed out, “Price of Passage won’t be published until August 23. We’re not even taking pre-orders yet.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“You know,” I said, “so I can sign your copy.”
“Oh,” Milo said, “don’t bother yourself about that.” He rummaged in his ratty old Sorbonne hoodie and pulled out a wrinkled cocktail napkin. “Just put your Hancock right here.”
I gave him the fish eye. “What about the book?”
“I’ll tape this to the inside cover,” he said. “Gotta strike while the iron is hot. If I wait till August 23 and stand in line at your launch party, I’ll get an inferior specimen.”
“Writer’s cramp,” he explained. “Just sign here.” He thrust the napkin and a black Sharpie into my hands.
In a moment of weakness, I complied.
“Thanks,” Milo said, and skedaddled.
Now I can get back to banging my head on my laptop. One must suffer for art.
Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer
Author of Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)